Leviticus 27

CHAPTER XXVII

Laws concerning vows, 1, 2.

Of males and females from twenty to sixty years of age, and

their valuation, 3, 4.

Of the same from five to twenty years, 5.

Of the same from a month to five years of age, 6.

Of males and females from sixty years old and upwards, and

their valuation, 7.

The priest shall value the poor according to his ability, 8.

Concerning beasts that are vowed, and their valuation, 9-13.

Concerning the sanctification of a house, 14, 15.

Concerning the field that is sanctified or consecrated to the

Lord, to the year of jubilee, 16-24.

Every estimation shall be made in shekels, according to the

shekel of the sanctuary, 25.

The firstlings of clean beasts, being already the Lord's,

cannot be vowed, 26.

That of an unclean beast may be redeemed, 27.

Every thing devoted to God shall be unalienable and

unredeemable, and continue the Lord's property till death,

28, 29.

All the tithe of the land is the Lord's, 30;

but it may be redeemed by adding a fifth part, 31.

The tithe of the herd and the flock is also his, 32.

The tenth that passes under the rod shall not be changed, 33.

The conclusion of the book, 34.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXVII

Verse 2. When a man shall make a singular vow] The verse is

short and obscure, and may be translated thus: A man who shall

have separated a vow, according to thy estimation, of souls unto

the Lord; which may be paraphrased thus: He who shall have vowed

or consecrated a soul, i. e., a living creature, whether man or

beast, if he wish to redeem what he has thus vowed or consecrated,

he shall ransom or redeem it according to the priest's estimation;

for the priest shall judge of the properties, qualifications, and

age of the person or beast, and the circumstances of the person

who has vowed it, and shall regulate the value accordingly; and

the money shall be put into his hands for the service of the

sanctuary. A vow (says Mr. Ainsworth) is a religious promise made

unto the Lord, and for the most part with prayer, and paid with

thanksgiving, Nu 21:2,3; Ps 66:12,14. Vows were either of

abstinence, such as are spoken of Nu 30:1, 2, and the vow of the

Nazarite, Nu 6:1-21; or they were to give 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, (Le 27:5, 6,) his

domestics, his cattle, his goods, &c. And in this chapter rules

are laid down for the redemption of all these things. But if,

after consecrating these things, he refused to redeem them, then

they became the Lord's property for ever. The persons continued

all their lives devoted to the service of the sanctuary; the goods

were sold for the profit of the temple or the priests; the animals,

if clean, were offered in sacrifice; if not proper for sacrifice,

were sold, and the price devoted to sacred uses. This is a general

view of the different laws relative to vows, mentioned in this

chapter.

Verse 3. From twenty years old even unto sixty-fifty shekels]

A man from twenty to sixty years of age, if consecrated to the

Lord by a vow, might be redeemed for fifty shekels, which, at 3s.

each, amounted to 7. 10s. sterling.

Verse 4. And if it be a female] The woman, at the same age,

vowed unto the Lord, might be redeemed for thirty shekels, 4.

10s. sterling, a little more than one half of the value of the

man; for this obvious reason, that a woman, if employed, could

not be of so much use in the service of the sanctuary as the man,

and was therefore of much less value.

Verse 5. From five years old] The boy that was vowed might be

redeemed for twenty shekels, 3. sterling; the girl, for ten

shekels, just one half, 1. 10s.

Verse 6. A month old] The male child, five shekels, 15s., the

female, three shekels, 9s. Being both in comparative infancy,

they were nearly of an equal value. None were vowed under a

month old: the first-born being always considered as the Lord's

property, could not be vowed, see Le 27:26.

Verse 7. Sixty years old] The old man and the old woman,

being nearly past labour, were nearly of an equal value; hence

the one was estimated at fifteen shekels, 2. 5s., the other at

ten shekels, 1. 10s. This was about the same ratio as that of

the children, Le 27:5, and for the same reason.

Verse 10. He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a

bad, &c.] Whatever was consecrated to God by a vow, or purpose

of heart, was considered from that moment as the Lord's property;

to change which was impiety; to withhold it, sacrilege.

Reader, hast thou ever dedicated thyself, or any part of thy

property, to the service of thy Maker? If so, hast thou paid thy

vows? Or hast thou altered thy purpose, or changed thy offering?

Has he received from thy hands a bad for a good? Wast thou not

vowed and consecrated to God in thy baptism? Are his vows still

upon thee? Hast thou "renounced the devil and all his works, the

pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts

of the flesh?" Dost thou feel thyself bound "to keep God's holy

will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy

life?" Was not this thy baptismal covenant? And hast thou

renounced IT? Take heed! God is not mocked: that which thou

sowest, thou shalt also reap. If thou rob God of thy heart, he

will deprive thee of his heaven.

Verse 11. Any unclean beast] See Clarke on Le 27:2.

Verse 13. Shall add a fifth part] 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 the

consecrated thing. Thus, if the priest valued it at forty

shekels, if the former owner redeemed it he was obliged to give

forty-eight.

Verse 14. Shall sanctify his house] The yearly rent of which,

when thus consecrated, went towards the repairs of the

tabernacle, which was the house of the Lord.

Verse 16. Some part of a field] Though the preceding words

are not in the text, yet it is generally allowed they should be

supplied here, as it was not lawful for a man to vow his whole

estate, and thus make his family beggars, in order to enrich the

Lord's sanctuary: this God would not permit. The rabbins teach

that the land or field, whether good or bad, was valued at

forty-eight shekels, for all the years of the jubilee, provided

the field was large enough to sow a homer of barley. The

chomer was different from the omer: the latter held about

three quarts, the former, seventy-five gallons three pints;

See Clarke on Ex 16:16. Some suppose that the land was rated,

not at fifty shekels for the whole of the years of the jubilee,

for this would be but about 3s. per annum; but that it was rated

according to its produce, fifty shekels for every homer of barley

it produced.

Verse 21. As a field devoted] It is cherem, a thing so

devoted to God as never more to be capable of being redeemed.

See Clarke on Le 27:29.

Verse 25. Shekel of the sanctuary] A standard shekel; the

standard being kept in the sanctuary to try and regulate all the

weights in the land by. See Ge 20:16; 23:15.

Verse 28. No devoted thing-shall be sold or redeemed] This is

the cherem, which always meant an absolute unredeemable grant

to God.

Verse 29. Which shall be devoted of men] Every man who is

devoted shall surely be put to death; or, as some understand it,

be the Lord's property, or be employed in his service, till

death. The law mentioned in these two verses has been appealed

to by the enemies of Divine revelation as a proof, that under the

Mosaic dispensation human sacrifices were offered to God; but

this can never be conceded. Had there been such a law, it

certainly would have been more explicitly revealed, and not left

in the compass of a few words only, where the meaning is very

difficult to be ascertained; and the words themselves differently

translated by most interpreters. That there were persons,

devoted to destruction under the Mosaic dispensation, is

sufficiently evident, for the whole Canaanitish nations were thus

devoted by the Supreme Being himself, because the cup of their

iniquity was full; but that they were not sacrificed to God, the

whole history sufficiently declares. Houbigant understands the

passage as speaking of these alone; and says, Non alios licebat

anathemate voveri, quam Chananaeos, quos jusserat Deus ad

internecionem deleri. "It was not lawful to devote any persons to

death but the Canaanites, whom God had commanded to be entirely

extirpated." This is perfectly correct; but he might have added

that it was because they were the most impure idolaters, and

because the cup of their iniquity was full. These God commanded

to be put to death; and who can doubt his right to do so, who is

the Maker of man, and the Fountain of justice? But what has this

to do with human sacrifices? Just nothing. No more than the

execution of an ordinary criminal, or a traitor, in the common

course of justice, has to do with a sacrifice to God. In the

destruction of such idolaters, no religious formality whatever was

observed; nor any thing that could give the transaction even the

most distant semblance of a sacrifice. In this way Jericho was

commanded to be destroyed, Jos 6:17, and the Amalekites,

De 25:19; 1Sa 15:3: but in all these cases the people commanded

to be destroyed were such sinners as God's justice did not think

proper to spare longer. And has not every system of law the same

power? And do we not concede such power to the civil magistrate,

for the welfare of the state? God, who is the sovereign arbiter

of life and death, acts here in his juridical and legislative

capacity; but these are victims to justice, not religious

sacrifices.

It may be necessary just farther to note that two kinds of vows

are mentioned in this chapter:-

1. The neder, (See Clarke on Le 27:2,) which comprehends

all those things which, when once devoted, might be redeemed at a

certain price, according to the valuation of the priest.

2. The cherem, those things vowed to God of which there

remained no power of redemption; they were most holy, i. e., so

absolutely devoted to God that they could neither be changed,

alienated, nor redeemed: probably because no mental reservation

had been made, as in the above case may be supposed. On this

ground the word was afterward applied to the most solemn and

awful kind of excommunication, meaning a person so entirely

devoted to the stroke of vindictive justice, as never to be

capable of receiving pardon; and hence the word may be well

applied in this sense to the Canaanites, the cup of whose

iniquity was full, and who were consigned, without reprieve, to

final extermination.

Verse 30. All the tithe of the land] This God claims as his

own; and it is spoken of here as being a point perfectly settled,

and concerning which there was neither doubt nor difficulty.

See my view of this subject "Ge 28:22", to which I do not see the

necessity of adding any thing.

Verse 32. Whatsoever passeth under the rod] The

signification of this verse is well given by the rabbins: "When a

man was to give the tithe of his sheep or calves to God, he was

to shut up the whole flock in one fold, in which there was one

narrow door capable of letting out one at a time. The owner,

about to give the tenth to the Lord, stood by the door with a rod

in his hand, the end of which was dipped in vermilion or red

ochre. The mothers of those lambs or calves stood without: the

door being opened, the young ones ran out to join themselves to

their dams; and as they passed out the owner stood with his rod

over them, and counted one, two, three, four, five, &c., and when

the tenth came, he touched it with the coloured rod, by which it

was distinguished to be the tithe calf, sheep, &c., and whether

poor or lean, perfect or blemished, that was received as the

legitimate tithe." It seems to be in reference to this custom

that the Prophet Ezekiel, speaking to Israel, says: I will cause

you to pass under the rod, and will bring you into the bond of

the covenant-you shall be once more claimed as the Lord's

property, and be in all things devoted to his service, being

marked or ascertained, by especial providences and manifestations

of his kindness, to be his peculiar people.

Verse 34. These are the commandments] This conclusion is very

similar to that at the end of the preceding chapter. I have

already supposed that this chapter should have followed the 25th,

and that the 26th originally terminated the book.

Mr. Ainsworth, the whole of whose writings are animated with

the spirit of piety, concludes this book with the following

excellent remarks:-

"The tithes in Israel being thus sanctified by the commandment

of God to his honour, the maintenance of his ministers, and the

relief of the poor, it taught them and teaches us to honour the

Lord with our substance, (Pr 3:9,) acknowledging him to be the

author of all our increase and store; (De 8:13-18; Ho 2:8;) to

honour his MINISTERS, and to communicate unto them in all good

things, (1Ti 5:17,18; Ga 6:6,)

that they who sow unto us spiritual things should reap our carnal

things, (1Co 9:11,)

and to give ALMS of such things as we have, that all things may be

clear unto us, (Lu 11:41,)

yea, even to sell that we have, and give alms; to provide ourselves

bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.

Lu 12:33."

They who forget their Maker, his ministers, and the poor, are

never likely to hear that blessed word in the great day: "Come, ye

blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; for I

was hungry, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink;

naked, and ye clothed me; sick and in prison, and ye came unto me."

READER, thou hast now gone through the whole of this most

interesting book; a book whose subject is too little regarded by

Christians in general. Here thou mayest discover the rigid

requisitions of Divine justice, the sinfulness of sin, the

exceeding breadth of the commandment, and the end of all human

perfection. And now what thinkest thou of that word, "Whatsoever

the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law?" Ro 3:19.

But who are under the law-the condemning power of the pure, rigid,

moral law of God? Not the Jews only, but every soul of man: all

to whom it is sent, and who acknowledge it as a Divine revelation,

and have not been redeemed from the guilt of sin by the grace of

our Lord Jesus Christ; for "cursed is every one that continueth

not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do

them." By this law then is the knowledge, but not the cure, of

sin. Here then what God saith unto thee: "If therefore perfection

were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people

received the law,) what farther need was there that another priest

should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called

after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there

is made of necessity a change also of the law; Heb 7:11,12.

Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have

such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of

the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the

true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man; Heb 8:1,2.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should

take away sins; Heb 10:4. But Christ being come a high priest of

good things to come,-neither by the blood of goats and calves, but

by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having

obtained eternal redemption for us. And for this cause he is the

Mediator of the New Testament, that, by means of death, they which

are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. And

without shedding of blood is no remission. So Christ was once

offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him

shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation;"

Heb 9:11, 12, 15, 22, 28. We see then that Christ was the END of the

law for righteousness (for justification) to every one that

believeth. "Unto him, therefore, who hath loved us, and washed us

from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests

unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and

ever. Amen." Re 1:5,6.

SECTIONS in the Book of Leviticus, carried on from Exodus,

which ends with the TWENTY-THIRD.

The TWENTY-FOURTH, called valyikra, begins Le 1:6,

and ends Le 6:7.

The TWENTY-FIFTH, called tsav, begins Le 6:8, and ends

Le 8:36.

The TWENTY-SIXTH, called shemini, begins Le 9:1, and

ends Le 11:47.

The TWENTY-SEVENTH, called tazria, begins Le 12:1,

and ends Le 13:59.

The TWENTY-EIGHTH, called metsora, begins Le 14:1, and

ends Le 15:33.

The TWENTY-NINTH, called acharey moth, begins

Le 16:1, and ends Le 18:30.

The THIRTIETH, called kedoshim, begins Le 19:1, and

ends Le 20:27.

The THIRTY-FIRST, called emor, begins Le 21:1, and ends

Le 24:23.

The THIRTY-SECOND, called behar Sinai, begins

Le 25:1, and ends Le 26:2.

The THIRTY-THIRD, called bechukkothai, begins

Le 26:3, and ends Le 27:34.

These sections, as was observed on Exodus, have their technical

names from some remarkable word, either in the first or second

verse of their commencement.

MASORETIC Notes on LEVITICUS

The number of verses in vaiyikra, i. e., Leviticus, is 859.

The symbol of which is ''. pe final stands for 800,

nun for 50, and teth for 9.

The middle verse is Le 15:11: And he that toucheth

the flesh, &c.

Its pareshioth, or larger sections, are 10, the memorial symbol

of which is taken from Ge 30:11:

ba gad, a troop cometh: in which beth stands for 2,

aleph for 1, gimel for 3, and daleth for 4.

Its sedarim, or Masoretic sections, are 23. The symbol of which

is taken from Ps 1:2,

yehgeh: In thy law shall he MEDITATE day and night.

Its perakim, or modern chapters, are 27. The memorial sign

which is veeyeheh, Ge 26:3: AND I WILL BE

with thee, and will bless thee.

The number of its open divisions is 52; of its close divisions,

46: total 98. The memorial sign of which is tsach, Cant.

So 5:10;

My beloved is WHITE and ruddy. In this word tsaddi stands

for 90, and cheth for 8.

VERSES 859. WORDS 11,902. LETTERS computed to be 44,989.

See the concluding note on GENESIS.

Finished the correction of Exodus and Leviticus, April 2, 1827.-A. CLARKE.

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