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.
a singular vow
A vow is a religious promise made to God, for the most part with prayer, and paid with thanksgiving. Vows were either of abstinence (Nu 6:30), or the devoting of something to the Lord, as sacrifices (Le 7:16,) or the value of persons, beasts, houses, or lands, concerning which the law is here given. A man might vow or devote himself, his children, his domestics, his cattle, his goods, etc.; and respecting the redemption of all these, rules are laid down in this chapter. But if, after consecrating these things, he refused to redeem them, they then became the Lord's property forever. The persons continued all their lives devoted to the sanctuary, the goods were sold for the profit of the temple, or the priests; and the animals, if clean, were offered in sacrifice; and if not proper for sacrifice, were sold, and the proceeds devoted to sacred uses. This is a general view of the different laws relative to vows, mentioned in this chapter.
And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
And thy estimation
i.e, At three shillings each, 7£. 10s. sterling.
And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
i.e., 4£. 10s. sterling, A little more than one-half the value of a man; for this obvious reason, that a woman, if employed, would not be of so much use in the sanctuary as the man.
And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
i.e., 3£. sterling. ten shekels. i.e., 1£. 10s. sterling
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
The male five shekels, 15s., the female three shekels, 9s. Being both in infancy they were nearly of an equal value.
And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
The old man and the old woman, being almost past labour, were nearly of an equal value; the former being estimated at 15 shekels, and the latter at 10.
But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.
And if it be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the LORD, then he shall present the beast before the priest:
And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.
as thou valuest it, who art the priest
Heb. according to thy estimation, O priest, etc.
But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.
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.
as the priest
And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.
then he shall add
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.
Though the words "some part" are not expressed, yet it is generally allowed that they should be supplied here; as it was not lawful for a man to alienate in this manner his whole patrimony: he might express his good will for the house of God but he must not impoverish his own family.
of a field
or, the land of an homer, etc., i.e, as much land as required a homer of barley to sow it. The homer was very different from the omer; the latter held about three quarts, the former seventy-five gallons three pints.
But if he sanctify his field after the jubile, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubile, and it shall be abated from thy estimation.
But the field, when it goeth out in the jubile, shall be holy unto the LORD, as a field devoted; the possession thereof shall be the priest's.
It is cherem, a thing so devoted to God, as never more to be capable of being redeemed.
And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;
Then the priest shall reckon unto him the worth of thy estimation, even unto the year of the jubile: and he shall give thine estimation in that day, as a holy thing unto the LORD.
In the year of the jubile the field shall return unto him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong.
And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
to the shekel
A standard shekel; the standard being kept in the sanctuary, to try and regulate all the weights in the land by.
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.
Heb. first born, etc. As these firstlings were the Lord's before, it would have been a solemn mockery to pretend to make them a matter of a singular vow; for they were already appointed, if clean, to be sacrificed.
And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to thine estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thy estimation.
and shall add
This was probably intended to prevent rash vows and covetous redemptions. The priest alone was to value the thing; and to whatever his valuation was, a fifth part must be added by him who wished to redeem it.
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.
This is the cherem, the absolute, irredeemable grant to God.
21 Exodus 22:20 Numbers 21:2,3 Deuteronomy 7:1,2 13:15,16 20:16,17 25:19 Joshua 6:17-19,26 7:1,11-13,25 Judges 11:30,31 21:5,11,18 1 Samuel 14:24-28,38-45 15:3,18,32,33 Matthew 25:41 Acts 23:12-14 Romans 9:3 1 Corinthians 16:22 Galatians 3:10,13
None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
which shall be devoted
That is, either that every person devoted to the service of God shall not be redeemed, but die in that devoted state, or, that such as were devoted to death by appointment and law of God, as the Canaanites were, shall be put to death.
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.
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
passeth under the rod
The Rabbins say, that when a man gave the tithe of his sheep or calves, he shut them in one fold, in which was a narrow door, to let out but one at a time. He then stood by the door, with a rod dipped in vermilion in his hand, and as they passed he counted them with the rod; and when the tenth came he touched it, by which it was distinguished as the tithe calf, sheep, etc.
These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.