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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Leviticus 27

 

 

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 2-8

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation.

When a man shall make ... Persons have at all times and in all places been accustomed to present votive offerings, either from gratitude for benefits received or in the event of deliverance from apprehended evil. And Moses was empowered by divine authority to prescribe the conditions of this voluntary duty.

The person shall be for the Lord ... - better rendered thus: 'According to thy estimation, the person shall be for the Lord.'

Verse 3. Thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver. An Israelite servant was usually valued at 50 silver shekels, a non-Israelite servant at 30 shekels (Exodus 21:32). Since the context relates to those who voluntarily dedicated themselves to the service of the sanctuary, the estimation must be that of the former. Persons might consecrate themselves or their children to the divine service in some inferior or servile kind of work about the sanctuary (1 Samuel 3:1). In the event of any change, the persons so devoted had the privilege in their power of redeeming themselves; and this chapter specifies the amount of the redemption money, which the priest had the discretionary power of reducing, as circumstances might seem to require. Those of mature age, between 20 and 60, being capable of the greatest service, were rated highest; young people, from 5 until 20, less, because not so serviceable; infants though devotable by their parents before birth (1 Samuel 1:11), could not be offered nor redeemed until a month after it; old people were valued below the young but above children; and the poor-in no case freed from payment, in order to prevent the rash formation of vows-were rated according to their means (see Michaelis' 'Commentaries,' ch. 43:, sec. 4).


Verses 9-13

And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.

If it be a beast - a clean beast; after it had been vowed, it could neither be employed in common purposes nor exchanged for an equivalent-it must be sacrificed; or if, through some discovered blemish, it was unsuitable for the altar, it might be sold, and the money applied for the sacred service. If an unclean beast-such as a donkey or camel, for instance-had been vowed, it was to be appropriated to the use of the priest at the estimated value, or it might be redeemed by the person vowing, on payment of that value, and the additional fine of one-fifth more.


Verse 14-15

And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.

When a man ... In this case, the house having been valued by the priest and sold, the proceeds of the sale were to be dedicated to the sanctuary. But if the owner wished, on second thoughts, to redeem it, he might have it by adding a fifth part to the price.


Verses 16-24

And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.

If a man ... In the case of acquired property in land, if not redeemed, it returned to the donor at the Jubilee; whereas the part of a hereditary estate which had been vowed did not revert to the owner, but remained attached in perpetuity to the sanctuary. The reason of this remarkable difference was to lay every man under an obligation to redeem the property, or stimulate his nearest kinsman to do it, in order to prevent a patrimonial inheritance going out from any family in Israel.


Verse 25

And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 26-27

Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the LORD's firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep: it is the LORD's.

Only the firstling. These, in the case of clean beasts, being consecrated to God by a universal and standing law (Exodus 13:12; Exodus 34:19), could not be devoted; and in that of unclean beasts were subject to the rule mentioned (Leviticus 27:11-12) - i:e., they were not killed at all but a pecuniary commutation was accepted.


Verse 28-29

Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.

No devoted thing ... shall be sold or redeemed. This relates to vows of the most solemn kind-the devotee accompanying his vow with a solemn imprecation on himself not to fail in accomplishing his declared purpose.

Shall surely be put to death. This announcement imported, not that the person was to be sacrificed or doomed to a violent death, but only that he should remain until death unalterably in the devoted condition. Since misconceptions exist as to the precise import of this statute, and it has been supposed to authorize human sacrifices, of which Jephthah's daughter and the surrender of seven of Saul's sons to the Gibeonites are represented as instances in conformity with the law, it may be proper to state that such a view of it is wholly inadmissible.

Parents are expressly interdicted from sacrificing their children (Deuteronomy 12:30-31; Psalms 106:37-38; Jeremiah 7:31; Ezekiel 16:20-21); the priest would have been unclean by touching a dead body, and the offering would have been odious to God (Isaiah 66:3). This passage, then, cannot relate to such a sacrifice, and it is capable of receiving a totally different interpretation.

Dr. Hales ('New Analysis of Chronology,' vol 2:, p. 320) renders it thus-`Notwithstanding no devoted thing, which a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, (either) of man or of beast, or of land of his own property, shall be sold or redeemed; everything devoted is most holy unto the Lord.' The preceding regulations were evidently designed to prevent rashness in vowing (Ecclesiastes 5:4), and to encourage serious and considerate reflection in all matters between God and the soul (Luke 21:4).


Verses 30-33

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD.

All the tithe of the land. This law gave the sanction of divine authority to an ancient usage (Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22). The whole produce of the land was subjected to the tithe tribute-it was a yearly rent which the Israelites, as tenants, paid to God, the owner of the land, and a thank offering they rendered to Him for the bounties of His providence (see Proverbs 3:9; 1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6).

Verse 32. Whatsoever passeth ... This alludes to the mode of taking the tithe of cattle, which were made to pass singly through a narrow gateway, where a person with a rod, tipped in ochre, stood, and counting them, marked the back of every tenth beast, whether male or female, sound or unsound. Tithes which were due under the Levitical priesthood, and were necessary to support the expensive institution of the Mosaic economy, were of great antiquity, (see Genesis 14:1-24). 'The only difference which the laws of Moses produced in these gifts was to make some of them no longer free-will offerings, but regularly appointed payments for the service of religion. Up to the date of the exodus, all unbloody sacrifices were probably made, not in obedience to an express law, but as marks of the worshipper's piety, in positions of great good fortune, or as vows during adversity. But when the service of Yahweh was legally enforced, it became necessary to oblige the people to support it, Many of the previously existing sacrificial gifts became now a kind of tax; while others were added, proper to the new phase of religion and the consecrated ministry of it. The tithes were paid to support the tribe of Levi; and the Lord claimed the first-born of beasts and the first-fruits of the earth' ('Israel after the Flesh,' pp. 38, 39).


Verse 34

These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children

These are the commandments ... The laws contained in this book, for the most part ceremonial, had an important spiritual bearing, the study of which is highly instructive (Romans 10:4; Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 12:18). They imposed a burdensome yoke (Acts 15:10), but yet in the infantine age of the Church formed the necessary discipline of 'a schoolmaster to Christ.'

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Leviticus 27:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/leviticus-27.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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