Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
2-8. When a man shall make a singular vow, &c.--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 persons shall be for the Lord, &c.--better rendered
thus:--"According to thy estimation, the persons shall be for the
Lord." Persons might consecrate themselves or their children to the
divine service, in some inferior or servile kind of work about the
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 twenty and sixty, being capable of the greatest
service, were rated highest; young people, from five till twenty, less,
because not so serviceable; infants, though devotable by their parents
could not be offered nor redeemed till a month after birth; 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.
9-13. if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the
Lord--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 an ass 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 a fifth more.
14, 15. when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the
Lord, &c.--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 thought, to redeem it,
he might have it by adding a fifth part to the price.
16-24. if a man shall sanctify unto the Lord some aprt of a field of
his possession, &c.--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
for 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
26, 27. Only the firstling of the beasts--These, in the case of
clean beasts, being consecrated to God by a universal and standing law
(Ex 13:12; 34:19),
could not be devoted; and in that of unclean beasts, were subject to
the rule mentioned
(Le 27:11, 12).
28, 29. no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of
all that he hath, . . . 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.
29. 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 till death unalterably in the devoted
condition. The preceding regulations were evidently designed to
prevent rashness in vowing
and to encourage serious and considerate reflection in all matters
between God and the soul
30-33. all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the
land--This law gave the sanction of divine authority to an ancient
(Ge 14:20; 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
32. whatsoever passeth under the rod, &c.--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, dipped in ochre,
stood, and counting them, marked the back of every tenth beast, whether
male or female, sound or unsound.
34. These are the commandments, &c.--The laws contained in this
book, for the most part ceremonial, had an important spiritual bearing,
the study of which is highly instructive
Heb 4:2; 12:18).
They imposed a burdensome yoke
but yet in the infantine age of the Church formed the necessary
discipline of "a schoolmaster to Christ"