The law concerning vows, Of persons and animals. (Verse 1-13.)
Vows concerning houses and land. (Verse 14-25.)
Devoted things not to be redeemed. (Verse 26-33.)
Conclusion. (Verse 34.)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 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.
3 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.
4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
The words “thy estimation” are used nine times in just eight verses. The priest had the responsibility to estimate what you should offer based on your ability to pay.
An Israeli knew what the payment was for a particular offering and if he couldn’t afford to pay it, he would present himself before the priest and state his case for a reduced estimation.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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:
12 And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.
13 But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.
This is where wickedness was evident in the priesthood in Jesus’ day because he took a whip to the priest for making his father’s house a house of merchandise and instead of it being a house of prayer it became a den of thieves trying to “estimate” more than should have been required by the priest.
As one priest began to become corrupt and get gain from his action’s others would soon follow and any priest who wasn’t living as good as the rest was seen as not being blessed instead of being honest and Jesus was sickened by this practice that had perverted the right way of offering unto the LORD and turned it into a racket.
14 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.
15 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.
If someone wanted to set apart (sanctify) his house unto the LORD for his use possibly as a place for the study of the scriptures, then he could receive from the priest a fair price for the use of it from the priest and after an agreed amount of time had ended for the lease of the house the owner could redeem it or buy it back for himself.
16 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.
17 If he sanctify his field from the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand.
18 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.
[abated – diminished in intensity or amount; lessened]
19 And if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be assured to him.
20 And if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.
21 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.
22 And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;
23 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.
24 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.
25 And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
26 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.
[Gen 4:4, Exod 13:12, Exod 34:19, Num 18:17, Prov 3:9]
27 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.
28 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.
29 None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
30 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.
31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
32 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.
33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
34 These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-13 – Zeal for the service of God disposed the Israelites, on some occasions, to dedicate themselves or their children to the service of the Lord, in his house for life. Some persons who thus dedicated themselves might be employed as assistants; in general they were to be redeemed for a value. It is good to be zealously affected and liberally disposed for the Lord’s service; but the matter should be well weighed, and prudence should direct as to what we do; else rash vows and hesitation in doing them will dishonour God, and trouble our own minds.
Verse 14-25 – Our houses, lands, cattle, and all our substance, must be used to the glory of God. It is acceptable to him that a portion be given to support his worship, and to promote his cause. But God would not approve such a degree of zeal as ruined a man’s family.
Verse 26-33 – Things or persons devoted, are distinguished from things or persons that were only sanctified. Devoted things were most holy to the Lord, and could neither be taken back nor applied to other purposes. Whatever productions they had the benefit, God must be honoured with the tenth of, if it could be applied. Thus they acknowledge God to be the Owner of their land, the Giver of its fruits, and themselves to be his tenants, and dependants upon him. Thus they gave him thanks for the plenty they enjoyed, and besought his favour in the continuance of it. We are taught to honour the Lord with our substance.
Verse 34 – The last verse seems to have reference to this whole book. Many of the precepts in it are moral, and always binding; others are ceremonial, and peculiar to the Jewish nation; yet they have a spiritual meaning, and so teach us; for unto us, by these institutions, is the gospel preached, as well as unto them, Hebrews 4:2. The doctrine of reconciliation to God by a Mediator, is not clouded with the smoke of burning sacrifice, but cleared by the knowledge of Christ and him crucified. We are under the sweet and easy institutions of the gospel, which pronounces those true worshippers, who worship the Father in spirit and truth, by Christ only, and in his name. Yet, let us not think, because we are not tied to the ceremonial rites and oblations, that a little care, time, and expense, will serve to honour God with. Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith, worshipping God with the more cheerfulness and humble confidence, still saying, BLESSED BE GOD FOR JESUS CHRIST.