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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 27

 

 

Verses 1-34


Vows and Tithes and their Redemption

1-29. Law of vows and their redemption.

The making of vows is a very ancient and universal practice connected with prayer. In order to secure his desire the suppliant adds a vow to his prayer. Vows may be either positive or negative. A man may promise either to devote something to God, or to abstain from some comfort or necessary of life. Instances of the latter, vows of abstinence, are to be found in Numbers 6:1-21; Numbers 30; 1 Samuel 14:24; Psalms 132:2-5, and of the former in Genesis 28:20-22; Judges 11:30-31; Numbers 21:1-3. The present chapter deals with positive vows. The votive offering may be a human being (Leviticus 27:2-8), an animal (Leviticus 27:9-13), a house (Leviticus 27:14-15), or a piece of land (Leviticus 27:16-25).

2-8. Human beings vowed to Jehovah must not be offered to Him in sacrifice. They must be redeemed, a certain sum of money being paid into the sanctuary as an equivalent.

2. Singular vow] a special vow devoting himself or any of his family to God.

3. Fifty shekels] about £6 10s: see on Leviticus 5:15.

9-13. If a man dedicates an animal and wishes to redeem it, he must pay its estimated value and one-fifth more.

9. Whereof men bring an offering] i.e. one of the sacrificial animals, a bullock, sheep, or goat.

10. See Malachi 1:14.

11. As it is unlawful to sacrifice unclean animals they must be redeemed and the equivalent value plus a fifth paid into the sanetuary.

14, 15. The redemption of a dedicated house follows the same rule.

16-25. The redemption of a dedicated piece of land is complicated by the law of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). Its value is reckoned according to the amount of seed required to sow it (Leviticus 27:16), and a reduction made in proportion to the number of years till the next Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 27:18). The owner may redeem it at this price plus one fifth. If he does not, it goes to the sanctuary at the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 27:20-21). But if the dedicant of the land has himself bought it from a third person, then at the Jubilee it reverts to the latter, and the dedicant must recompense the sanctuary by paying its redemption value calculated as before (Leviticus 27:22-24).

16. Homer] ten ephahs, or nearly eleven bushels. The value of barley is here stated to be about £6 10s.

23. In that day] The estimated value of a purchased piece of land must be paid in a lump sum. The estimated value of a hereditary possession, it would appear, was paid in yearly instalments. This practically meant that, till the Jubilee, the dedicant paid to the sanctuary a yearly rent of one shekel per homer of seed that he used.

26-29. Exception to the Law of Bedemption of Vows.

26. Firstlings, which already belong to God (Exodus 13:2), cannot be vowed again without mockery.

27. Firstlings of unclean animals must be redeemed in the usual manner. In Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20 the law is that such must either be redeemed with a lamb or killed. The law seems to have varied at different times.

28. Devoted things are those consecrated to God by an extreme form of vow, the ban or curse, requiring their destruction or inalienable devotion to the sanctuary: see Numbers 18:14; Deuteronomy 13:17; Joshua 6:17, Joshua 6:21; 1 Samuel 15:3, 1 Samuel 15:9, 1 Samuel 15:20. This form of vow is specially laid upon the spoil of conquered nations. The NT. equivalent is the 'anathema' or excommunication: see Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 Timothy 1:20.

29. Devoted of men] see Exodus 22:20, where the Hebrew is 'shall be devoted.' There the 'devotion of men 'is the solemn judicial penalty of idolatry. This was probably the only ground of devoting human beings. The case of Jephthah's daughter is doubtful: see Judges 11:30-40.

30-33. The Law of Tithes and their Redemption. Tithes belong to God as the real owner of the land: see on Leviticus 25:1-7. They are a kind of rent paid by the people as His tenants. Being already God's, tithes cannot be made the subject of vows. Tithes of agricultural produce may be commuted for their money value plus one fifth (Leviticus 27:31). The tithe of cattle cannot be redeemed (Leviticus 27:32-33).

32. Passetti under the rod] of the owner as he counts his cattle. Every tenth beast as it comes, whether good or bad, is to be set apart as belonging to God: cp. Leviticus 25:10. The tithes were given to the Levites for their maintenance, and they in turn tithed their own tithes: see Numbers 18:20-32.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 27:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/leviticus-27.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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