Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 6th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 27

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2514. B.C. 1490.

Laws concerning persons sanctified to God, Leviticus 27:1-8 . Concerning cattle, Leviticus 27:9-13 . Concerning houses and lands, Leviticus 27:14-25 . An exception concerning firstlings, Leviticus 27:26 , Leviticus 27:27 . Concerning what was devoted, Leviticus 27:28 , Leviticus 27:29 . Concerning tithes, Leviticus 27:30-34 .

Verse 2

Leviticus 27:2. Shall make a singular vow The Hebrew may be rendered, Shall separate, or set apart a vow; that is, shall, by solemn promise; separate any thing from a common to a sacred use. For vows were religious promises made to God, for obtaining some blessing or deliverance from some evil or danger, and were accompanied with prayer, and paid with thanksgiving. The words, however, יפלא נדר , japhli neder, may be properly translated, as here, Shall make a singular, or hard, or eminent vow. And this is to be understood, not of things, but of persons, which he devoted to the Lord. Although vows of this kind were not usual, yet there want not instances of persons who devoted either themselves or their children, and that either more strictly, as the Nazarites and the Levites, (1 Samuel 1:11,) and for these no redemption was admitted, but they were in person to perform the service to which they were devoted; or more largely, as some who were not Levites might yet, through zeal for God, or to obtain a blessing which they wanted, devote themselves or their children to the service of God and of the sanctuary, though not in such a way as the Levites, which was forbidden, yet in some kind of subserviency to them. And because there might be too great a number of persons thus dedicated, which might be burdensome to the sanctuary, an exchange is allowed, and the priests are directed to receive a tax for their redemption. A book of rates is, accordingly, provided here, by which the priests were to be guided in their valuation. 1st, The middle-aged, between twenty and sixty, were valued highest, the males at fifty shekels each, and the females at thirty, (Leviticus 27:3-4,) women being generally inferior to men in strength and serviceableness. 2d, The rate of the youth between five years old and twenty was less, because they were then less capable of doing service. 3d, Infants under five years old were capable of being vowed to God by their parents, as Samuel was, but were not to be presented and redeemed till they were a month old; that, as one sabbath passed over them before they were circumcised, so one new moon might pass over them before they were estimated; and their valuation was but small, Leviticus 27:6. Samuel, who was thus vowed to God, was not redeemed, because he was a Levite, and designed by his parents to be lent to the Lord as long as he lived, 1 Samuel 1:28. Therefore he was employed in his childhood in the service of the tabernacle. 4th, The aged are valued at a less rate than youth, but greater than children, Leviticus 27:7. And the Hebrews observe, that the rate of an aged woman is two parts of three to that of an aged man, so that in that age the female came nearest to the value of the male. 5th, The poor were to be valued according to their ability, Leviticus 27:8. Something they must pay, that they might not be rash in vowing to God; for he hath no pleasure in fools, Ecclesiastes 2:6; yet not more than their ability, that they might not ruin themselves and their families by their zeal.

Verse 9

Leviticus 27:9. If it be a beast it shall be holy, &c. A second sort of things vowed to God are beasts. With respect to which the law is, that the very individual beast was to be disposed of by the owner according to the first intention of his vow, whether to be sacrificed upon the altar, or given to the priests, or sold for the use of the sanctuary, the price to be applied to the repairs of the house of God, or to purchase the usual sacrifices. This is what we are to understand by its being holy, as appears from Leviticus 27:10. The design of this law was to preserve a reverence toward things once consecrated, that they might not return to common uses.

Verse 10

Leviticus 27:10. He shall not alter it, nor change it Two words expressing the same thing more emphatically; that is, he shall in no wise change it, neither for one of the same nor of another kind: partly because God would preserve the sanctity and reverence of consecrated things, and therefore would not have them alienated; and partly to prevent abuses of them by those who on this pretence might exchange what had been vowed for the worse. It and the exchange That is, both the thing first vowed, and the thing offered and given in exchange. This was inflicted upon him as a just penalty for his levity in such weighty matters.

Verse 11

Leviticus 27:11. Unclean Either for the kind or for the quality of it; if it were such a one as might not be offered. In the case of any unclean beast; that is, which was not allowed to be offered in sacrifice, such as a horse, camel, &c., it was to be valued by the priest, and then the owner had liberty to leave the beast at the priest’s disposal, or to redeem it by paying the price set upon it, with a fifth part more. This served as a proper check to men’s levity and fickleness in making vows and religious resolutions. It put them in mind not to be rash in opening their mouths to God, and made them feel the inconvenience of repenting of their vows.

Verse 14

Leviticus 27:14. When a man shall sanctify his house By a vow; for of that way and manner of sanctification he speaks in this whole chapter. This is the third case, and was to be regulated by the same law as the last- mentioned. It was to be justly valued by the priest; and if the party chose rather to pay the price than part with the house, he was to submit to the law made in the foregoing case.

Verse 16

Leviticus 27:16. Shall sanctify some part of his field This intimates that it was not lawful for a man to vow his whole field or estate, because God would have no man’s family made beggars to enrich his sanctuary. The design of consecrating a part to God, was to procure his blessing upon the rest of their possessions. Thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof That is, it shall be valued according to the quantity of seed required to sow it. A homer of barley-seed shall be valued at fifty shekels That is, so much land as a homer of barley would sow was to be rated at fifty shekels, or about five pounds seventeen shillings; and so, proportionably, for greater or less quantities of ground so devoted. There is a great difference between this measure and that which occurs Exodus 16:16; this is written homer, and that ghomer. Now, a ghomer was but the tenth part of an ephah, as we learn from Exodus 16:36; whereas the homer, which is the measure here spoken of, was ten ephahs, Ezekiel 45:11. By this we may explain that threatening in Isaiah 5:10, The seed of a homer shall yield an ephah; that is, ten bushels shall yield but one.

Verses 17-18

Leviticus 27:17-18. If he sanctify his field from the year of jubilee That is, if the vow has been made immediately after the jubilee, then the land requiring a homer of barley-seed is to be valued at fifty shekels, as before mentioned. If after the jubilee That is, some considerable time after, then the priest was to deduct from the above rate of fifty shekels, either more or less, according as more or fewer years remained till the next jubilee. For no land could be alienated for a longer period than forty-nine years, that is, from one jubilee to another, except in the case after mentioned. If he will not redeem the field If the owner choose rather to part with his land than redeem it at the price which the priest hath set upon it, and the priest, upon his refusal, have sold it, or rather let it, till the next jubilee, to another man; then he that vowed it shall be excluded from all future privilege of redemption; and, when the jubilee is come, the land shall return to the priesthood for ever. For preventing ambiguity, instead of, If he have sold the field, it ought to be rendered, If the priest have sold, as in the Arabic version; or, If it be sold to another, as in the Vulgate; for the he cannot refer to the owner or vower of the land, as our version makes it, since the vower had no power to sell the land after he had consecrated it, but it was to be sold or let by the priest or treasurer of the sanctuary, who converted the price thereof to a holy use.

Verse 21

Leviticus 27:21. When it goeth out That is, out of the possession of the other man to whom the priest sold it. The possession shall be the priest’s For his maintenance. Nor is this repugnant to that law, that the priests should have no inheritance in the land, Numbers 18:20; for that is only spoken of the tribe of Levi in general, in reference to the first division of the land, wherein the Levites were not to have a distinct part of land, as other tribes had; but this does not imply that some particular lands might not be vowed and given to the priests, either for their own benefit, or for the service of the sanctuary.

Verses 22-23

Leviticus 27:22-23. Not of the fields of his possession His patrimony or inheritance. Thy estimation That is, the price which thou, O Moses, by my direction, hast set in such cases. To the jubilee As much as it is worth, for that space of time between the making of the vow and the year of jubilee: for he had no right to it for any longer time, as the next verse tells us. As a holy thing As that which is to be consecrated to God instead of the land redeemed by it.

Verse 25

Leviticus 27:25. The shekel of the sanctuary About 2 Samuel 6:0 d.

Verse 26

Leviticus 27:26. No man shall sanctify it By vow; because it is not his own, but the Lord’s already, and therefore to vow such a thing to God is a tacit derogation from, and a usurpation of, the Lord’s right, and a mocking of God by pretending to give what we cannot withhold from him. Ox or sheep Under these two eminent kinds he comprehends all other beasts which might be sacrificed to God, the firstlings whereof could not be redeemed, but were to be sacrificed; whereas the firstlings of men were to be redeemed, and therefore were capable of being vowed, as we see, 1

Samuel Leviticus 1:11.

Verse 27

Leviticus 27:27. An unclean beast That is, if it be the firstborn of an unclean beast, as appears from Leviticus 27:26, which could not be vowed, because it was a firstborn, nor offered, because it was unclean; and therefore is here commanded to be redeemed or sold. It shall be sold And the price thereof was given to the priests, or brought into the Lord’s treasury.

Verse 28

Leviticus 27:28. No devoted thing That is, nothing which is absolutely devoted to God with a curse upon themselves or others if they disposed not of it according to their vow; as the Hebrew word implies. Most holy That is, only to be touched or employed by the priests, and by no other persons; no, not by their own families, for that was the state of the most holy things.

Verse 29

Leviticus 27:29. Devoted of men Not by men, as some would elude it, but of men, for it is manifest both from this and the foregoing verses, that men are here not the persons devoting, but devoted to destruction, either by God’s sentence, as idolaters, Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 23:15; the Canaanites, Deuteronomy 20:17; the Amalekites, Leviticus 25:19; 1Sa 15:3 ; 1 Samuel 15:26; Benhadad, 1 Kings 20:42; or by men, in pursuance of such a sentence of God, as Numbers 21:2-3; Numbers 31:17; or for any crime of a high nature, as Judges 21:5. But this is certainly not to be understood, as some have taken it, as if a Jew might, by virtue of this text, devote his child or his servant to the Lord, and thereby oblige himself to put them to death. For this is expressly limited to all that a man hath or which is his; that is, which he hath a power over. But the Jews had no power over the lives of their children or servants, but were directly forbidden to take them away, by that great command, thou shalt do no murder. And seeing he that killed his servant casually by a blow with a rod was surely to be punished, as is said, Exodus 21:20, it could not be lawful wilfully to take away his life upon pretence of any such vow as this. But for the Canaanites, Amalekites, &c., God, the undoubted Lord of all men’s lives, gave to the Israelites a power over their persons and lives, and a command to put them to death. And this verse may have a special respect to them, or such as them.

Verse 30

Leviticus 27:30. The tithe There were divers sorts of tithes, but this seems to be understood only of the ordinary and yearly tithes belonging to the Levites, as the very expression intimates, and the addition of the fifth part in case of the redemption thereof implies.

Verse 32

Leviticus 27:32. Under the rod Either, 1st, The tithers’ rod, it being the manner of the Jews in tithing to cause all their cattle to pass through some gate or narrow passage, where the tenth was marked by a person appointed for that purpose, and reserved for the priest. Or, 2d, The shepherd’s rod, under which the herds and flocks passed, and by which they were governed and numbered. See Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37.

Verse 34

Leviticus 27:34. These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai This has reference to the whole book. Many of these commandments are moral; others ceremonial, and peculiar to the Jewish economy; which yet are instructive to us, who have a key to the mysteries that are contained in them. Upon the whole, we have cause to bless God that we are not come to mount Sinai, that we are not under the dark shadows of the law, but enjoy the clear light of the gospel. The doctrine of our reconciliation to God by a Mediator, is not clouded with the smoke of burning sacrifices, but cleared by the knowledge of Christ, and him crucified. And we may praise him that we are not under the yoke of the law, but under the sweet and easy instructions of the gospel, which pronounces those the true worshippers that worship the Father in spirit and in truth, by Christ only, who is our priest, temple, altar, sacrifice, purification, and all.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 27". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/leviticus-27.html. 1857.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile