William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Leviticus Chapter 27
Leviticus 27:1-8These were special acts of devotedness to Jehovah through the priest, but according to his valuation who was king in Jeshurun and thus type of Messiah.
The chapter is a remarkable example of that divine inspiration, which underlies Scripture for the profit of faith, but above the ken of the wise and prudent who dare to judge God's word under the plea of historical and literary investigation, totally blind to their guilty unbelief and profanity. But the single-eyed believer delights to observe that Lev. 25 looks on to the true and full day of Jubilee when Jehovah will make good His rights over the land on behalf of His people its failing tenants. Then Lev. 26 sets out the sad ruin of His guilty people under the first covenant because of their disobedience and apostasy; but also restoring mercy under the second when they accept the punishment of their iniquity, and He remembers His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the land. Lastly comes this appendix of special or voluntary vows which turns on His absolute title when all on man's part had failed, and He acts through Him who shall there build the temple of Jehovah, bear the glory, and sit and rule upon His throne; when He shall be a priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both (Zechariah 6:13).
The vows here brought together consist, first of persons, male or female; secondly of beasts so devoted; thirdly of house or field, and this brings in the Jubilee, and proves the chapter to be in its precisely right and necessary place. The rest of the chapter states the distinction between persons or things thus devoted from those that were simply sanctified, with certain exceptions already established by His law. These verses 1-8 deal only with the persons.
" 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When a man devoteth by a vow, the persons [shall be] for Jehovah by thy valuation. 3 And thy valuation shall be of the male from twenty years old even to sixty years old: even thy valuation shall be sixty shekels of silver after the shekel of the sanctuary. 4 And if for a female, then thy valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5 And if from five years old even to twenty years old, then thy valuation of the male shall be twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels. 6 And if from a month old even to five years old, then thy valuation of the male shall be five shekels of silver, and for the female thy valuation [shall be] three shekels of silver. 7 And if from sixty years old and above, if a male, then thy valuation shall be fifteen shekels; and for the female ten shekels. 8 And if he be poorer than thy valuation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his means that vowed shall the priest value him" (vers. 1-8).
Jehovah would have seriousness in His people in making a vow. There was no demand on His part in this case, as in the firstlings of man and beast, etc. There was a whole tribe, the sons of Levi, already consecrated to the religious service of Jehovah; but He accepted the desire of any individual for devotedness to Himself, and laid down directions for Moses to value them on a certain scale of valuation, which varied according to their age and sex (vers. 1, 2).
The first estimate took account of the time when service was most prized from twenty years to sixty years old, the male at fifty shekels of silver, the female at thirty. This would mean of our money (say) six pounds five shillings, and three pounds fifteen shillings respectively (vers. 3, 4).
The next estimation for each is from five years of age to twenty, and is rated at twenty shekels for the male, and ten far the female, or two pounds ten shillings, and one pound five shillings (ver. 5).
Then the extreme point for males and females from a month to five years has the valuation of five shekels for the one, and three for the other, or twelve shillings and sixpence, and seven shillings and sixpence (ver. 6).
Next for the oldest class, from sixty years and above, for the male fifteen shekels or one pound seventeen shillings, and the female ten shekels or one pound five shillings (ver. 7). There the scale for the aged female rose nearest to the male, where man might be disposed to despise.
As Jehovah did not require these vows, He did not make them irrevocable. The persons thus devoted might be redeemed; and the foregoing scale of valuation was therefore provided. The use to be made of the redemption price is referred to in 2 Kings 12 as "the money of the persons for whom each man is rated." This, with other contributions fixed or voluntary there stated, the priests were to take in the days of the temple for repairing the breaches of the house wheresoever any breach was found.
But in its considerate equity there was another provision given in ver. 8, "And if he be poorer than thy valuation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his means that vowed shall the priest value him." It was due to Jehovah that something should be paid, that the exemption from his obligation might not be a light thing, or God mocked by heedlessness. Yet there must be no harshness; only gracious care that the debt to God might not oppress the poorest of His people.
BEASTS OR HOUSE DEVOTED
Leviticus 27:9-15But things also animate or inanimate might be set apart to Jehovah, as here we have animals and a house.
" 9 And if [it be] a beast of which men offer an offering to Jehovah, all that they give of such to Jehovah shall be holy. 10 They shall not alter it nor change it, a good for a bad nor a bad for a good; and if he at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy. 11 And if any unclean beast, of which they do not offer an offering to Jehovah, then he shall present the beast before the priest; 12 and the priest shall value it, between good and bad: according to thy valuation, O priest, so shall it be. 13 And if they will in any wise redeem it, then they shall add a fifth thereof according to thy valuation.
" 14 And when anyone halloweth his house, that it may be holy to Jehovah, the priest shall value it, between good and bad: as the priest shall value it, so shall it stand. 15 And if he that halloweth it will redeem his house, he shall add the fifth of the money of thy valuation to it, and it shall be his" (vers. 9-15).
A necessary difference at once appears between beasts clean or unclean, as there was no question of the firstborn of man and of cattle already claimed from the sons of Israel as Jehovah's (Exodus 13:2), at least the males (12, 13). The firstling of an ass if not ransomed with a lamb must have its neck broken; as the firstborn of man among their sons with a price. For the firstborn of Israel the tribe of Levi was substituted as we know from Num. 3; but as its number did not suffice to represent all the firstborn, the rest who were over and above those ransomed by the Levites were redeemed by the ransom-money of five shekels apiece according to the shekel of the sanctuary. Thus in every way Jehovah associated with Himself His people so liable to forget their high relations, grounded on different figures of redemption.
The first principle laid down impressed on the Israelite that if he gave to Jehovah a clean beast, one presentable for sacrifice, it was to be thenceforward "holy" (9). It could not be bought back. Even if defective or bad in any way, he could not alter, nor change it for an unblemished beast, neither good for bad nor bad for good. All this should have been weighed before offering it; and if the offerer altered his mind, he must learn that God did not. If it was real concern for Jehovah's honour, he might bring another good beast; but the original animal and the exchange must remain holy to Jehovah (10).
There was more allowance where there was no such close link with Jehovah as with animals fit for sacrifice to Him. If an unclean beast were presented, he should present it to the priest, and the priest should value it whether it be good or bad; and as he valued it, so should it be. If one wished to recall the unclean beast, it was open to him with a fifth added to the estimation, as a trespass or forfeit, because of his lack of due gravity in what was thus connected with Jehovah (11-13).
It is substantially the same with the latter case, where one hallowed his house to Jehovah. The priest valued it good or bad; and at his valuation, so it was to stand. But if the Israelite did not stand to his purpose and wished to redeem, Jehovah made no difficulty, but impressed a reproof on his fickleness by requiring a fifth over its estimated value; and thus he might have his house back.
We see the same guard against second thoughts in the book of Psalms, though in a more general form and the converse too, where there was no such devotion to Jehovah. It is part of what is shown to please Jehovah and suits the hill of His holiness, that if a man have sworn to his own hurt, he does not change. He who is by grace steadfast in word and deed, abhorring evil end cleaving to good, shall never be moved even in a world of vain show. But we soon find out how fickle we are, when we are seriously given up to do the will of God. As long as it is only a theory of duty, we are to spare and let ourselves off easily. And we prove that it is sure to be no better with others till they have Christ as their life, and self is thoroughly judged before God. The Holy Spirit then helps us in power to glorify God, whatever it may cost us, and it is our delight thus to please Christ.
THE DEVOTED FIELD SANCTIFIED TO JEHOVAH
Leviticus 27:16-25There were two cases in the hallowing of the field, which are here distinguished, a field of the Israelite's possession, and a field which he bought. Descent or purchase involved a marked difference.
" 16 And if a man hallow to Jehovah out of a field of his possession, thy valuation shall be according to the seed thereof: the homer of barley seed at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he hallow his field from the year of jubilee, according to thy valuation it shall stand; 18 but if he hallow his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain until the year of the jubilee, and there shall be a reduction from thy valuation. 19 And if he that hallowed the field will in any wise redeem it, he shall add the fifth of the money of thy valuation unto it, and it shall be assured to him. 20 But if he do not redeem the field, or if he sell the field to another man, it cannot be redeemed any more; 21 and the field when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy to Jehovah as a field devoted: the possession thereof shall be the priest's. 22 And if he hallow to Jehovah a field that he hath bought, which [is] not the field of his possession, 23 the priest shall reckon to him the amount of thy valuation unto the year of the jubilee; and he shall give thy valuation on that day, holy unto Jehovah. 24 In the year of the jubilee the field shall return to him of whom it was bought, to him to whom the possession of the land [belonged] 25 And all thy valuations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel" (vers. 16-25).
God will not allow His people to forget that the land of Canaan is His peculiarly, as they were to whom He gave it in possession. This was of their special favours. Israel were His people as no other nation could be then, and their land too was His that He might secure it to them for ever, unless they apostatised, for which He drove them out and made them the slave and butt of their enemies' malice and contempt. So it was for their idolatry when the mother of idols led the Jew captive, as Assyria led away Ephraim long before; and so it was to be again as Isaiah foretold both (Isa. 40-48 and Isa. 49-57.) when the Roman should take away both their place and nation because they rejected the Messiah.
But here it is an Israelite while acknowledged of Jehovah sanctifiying to Jehovah a part of a field of his possession. The valuation was to be according to the seed required, a homer of barley being rated at fifty shekels of silver. Here the jubilee rules, the standard for rectifying man's weakness or fault and for restoring divine order. If he sanctified his field from the year of jubilee, it must stand according to the valuation. The jubilee proclaimed Jehovah's rights unmistakeably; and if the field were devoted to Him, there could be no change The estimation allowed no abatement, nor meddling.
But if after the jubilee the Israelite sanctified it, "then the priest shall reckon to him the money according to the years that remain to the year of the jubilee," and thus equitable abatement ensues Yet the case does not end there. "If he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it," he must submit to the usual forfeit required in thus departing from his original purpose of devotedness to Jehovah. The fifth part has to be added of the valuation money to that valuation price, in order to gain back the portion devoted.
It is also laid down that, if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold the field to another man, it "shall not be redeemed any more." Further still, the rights of Jehovah are repeated by the provision that "the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy to Jehovah as a field devoted." The terms of re-acquiring it had not been complied with. Jehovah was the real Landlord; and His title is not to be any longer subject to human caprice. "The possession thereof shall be the priest's." Thus Jehovah would exercise His people in a due regard for His majesty and word, who sought thereby the best blessing for His people, and the restitution of the land as well as of the people.
On the other hand, if one sanctified to Jehovah a field which he had bought, outside the field of his possession, the priest must reckon unto him the worth of the valuation unto the year of jubilee; and this valuation was then and there to be given, a holy thing to Jehovah. There was no forfeit of the fifth part to be added to the price Nor did it abide holy to Jehovah beyond the year of jubilee; for then it must return to the original possessor of the land who had sold it. Jehovah's gift held good: if man changes, He does not.
Another law was applied inflexibly throughout these transactions. "And all thy valuations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel" (ver. 25). Israel might desire to purchase by what coin was most convenient in their dealings with the nations. But as in relation to the temple service and their redemption price, so here they must make their payments "according to the shekel of the sanctuary."
We are under grace, not law; but what a profound error that we se Christians are left to our own will or wisdom! We are bought with an infinite price, and are in no wise our own. Undoubtedly all things are ours, life or death, things present or things to come. But we are Christ's by the same title which manes all to be ours; so that the bondman if called in the Lord is His freedman; and the free man if called is Christ's bondman. Such is Christian liberty. Humbled at our sins, we rejoice in His grace which has set us free to be all the more His servants, as He was the lowliest of all and the only efficacious One in love without measure to God's glory.
Leviticus 27:26-34It remains to notice briefly the verses that follow. " 26 Only the firstling among beasts, which is made a firstling to Jehovah, no man shall sanctify it: whether [it be] ox or sheep, it [is] Jehovah's. 27 And if [it be] of an unclean beast, then he shall ransom [it] according to thine estimation, and shall add to it the fifth thereof; or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thine estimation. 28 Notwithstanding, no devoted thing that a man shall devote to Jehovah of all that he hath, of man or beast, or of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing [is] most holy to Jehovah. 29 None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death. 30 And all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land, [or] of the fruit of the tree, [is] Jehovah's, holy to Jehovah. 31 And if a man will redeem [aught] of his tithe, he shall add to it the fifth thereof. 32 And all the tithe of the herd or the flock, whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to Jehovah. 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 that for which it is changed shall be holy: it shall not be redeemed. 34 These [are] the commandments which Jehovah commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai" (vers. 26-34).
It was not unneeded to remind the thoughtless, that the firstlings of clean animals being already due to Jehovah were not objects of the devotedness contemplated in this chapter. Such firstlings were already His as every Israelite ought to know. But it was here interdicted, lest any should make a vow as to such, and deceive his soul to Jehovah's dishonour.
The same principle applies as we have seen already, if a man sought to redeem the firstling of an unclean beast. He must submit to the appointed estimation, and was not to make one of his own; and he must add a fifth to it as the penalty of changing his mind about a vow to Jehovah. If not redeemed, it was to be sold accordingly, as being incapable of any holy purpose.
The great general rule was that what was devoted to Jehovah of all a man had, man, beast, field, should be sold or redeemed, every devoted thing being most holy to Jehovah. None devoted which shall be devoted of men should be ransomed, but surely put to death. As to the tithe of land, whether seed of the land, or fruit of the tree, all was Jehovah's, holy to Him. And if a man would redeem of it, he must add the fifth as forfeit. Again, in tithe of herd or flock, the tenth was holy to Jehovah. And it was carefully insisted that he was not to search for good or bad, nor to change: Jehovah accepted it simply as it was. If however he did change it all, he must offer alike the original and the change: both should be holy, and neither to be ransomed.
Thus did Jehovah teach His people to be obedient, and hate self-will. How much more is this incumbent on us whom the Spirit sanctified unto Christ's obedience and the sprinkling of His blood, the Christian's place as distinct from Israel's! Practical righteousness is looked for in all; but righteousness is consistency with relationship, and Israel are an earthly people, the church a heavenly one.
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.
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 if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 he sanctify his field from the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely 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 if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
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.
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.
These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.