Leviticus 27 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 2

[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.

A singular vow-Or, an eminent, or hard vow, not concerning things, which was customary, but concerning persons, which he devoted to the Lord, which was unusual and difficult: yet there want not instances of persons who devoted either themselves or their children, and that either more strictly, as the Nazarites, and the Levites, 1 Samuel 1:11, and for these there was no redemption admitted, but they were in person to perform the service to which they were devoted: or more largely, as some who were not Levites, might yet through zeal to God, or to obtain God's help, which they wanted or desired, devote themselves or their children to the service of God and of the sanctuary, tho' not in such a way as the Levites, which was forbidden, yet in some kind of subserviency to them. And because there might be too great a number of persons thus dedicated, which might be burdensome to the sanctuary, an exchange is allowed, and the priests are directed to receive a tax for their redemption.

By thy estimation — Thine, O man that vowest, as appears from Leviticus 27:8, where his estimation is opposed to the priest's valuation. Nor was there any fear of his partiality in his own cause, for the price is particularly limited. But where the price is undetermined, there, to avoid that inconvenience, the priest is to value it, as Leviticus 27:8,12.

Verse 3

[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.

Unto sixty years — Which is the best time for strength and service, and therefore prized at the highest rate.

Verse 4

[4] And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.

Thirty shekels — Less than the man's price, because she is inferior to him both in strength and serviceableness.

Verse 5

[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.

Five years old — At which age they might be vowed by their parents, as appears from 1 Samuel 1:11-28, tho' not by themselves; and the children were obliged by their parents vow, which is not strange considering the parents right to dispose of their children so far as is not contrary to the mind of God.

Verse 8

[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.

Than thy estimation — If he be not able to pay the price which thou, according to the rules here given, requirest of him.

Verse 9

[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.

Whereof men bring an offering — That is, a clean beast.

Giveth — Voweth to give: Shall be holy - Consecrated to God, either to be sacrificed, or to be given to the priest, according to the manner of the vow, and the intention of him that voweth.

Verse 10

[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.

He shall not alter it, nor change it — Two words expressing the same thing more emphatically, that is, he shall in no wise change it, neither for one of the same, nor of another kind: partly because God would preserve the reverence of consecrated things, and therefore would not have them alienated, and partly to prevent abuses of them who on this pretence might exchange it for the worse.

It and the exchange — That is, both the thing first vowed, and the thing offered or given in exchange. This was inflicted upon him as a just penalty for his levity in such weighty matters.

Verse 11

[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:

Unclean — Either for the kind, or for the quality of it; if it were such an one as might not be offered.

Verse 14

[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.

Sanctify his house — By a vow, for of that way and manner of sanctification he speaks in this whole chapter.

Verse 15

[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.

The fifth part — Which he might the better do, because the priests did usually put a moderate rate upon it.

Verse 16

[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.

Of his possession — That is, which is his by inheritance, because particular direction is given about purchased lands, Leviticus 27:22. And he saith, part of it, for it was unlawful to vow away all his possessions, because thereby he disabled himself from the performance of divers duties, and made himself burdensome to his brethren.

According to the seed — That is, according to the quantity and quality of the land, which is known by the quantity of seed which it can receive and return.

Fifty-shekels — Not to be paid yearly, 'till the year of jubilee, but once for all, as is most probable, 1. Because here is no mention of any yearly payment, but only of one payment. 2. Because it is probable that lands were moderately valued, that men might be rather encouraged to make such vows, than deterred by excessive impositions. But if this were yearly rent, it was an excessive rate, and much more than the land ordinarily yielded. For an omer is but the tenth part of an ephah, about a pottle of our measure, which quantity of seed would not extend very far, and in some lands would yield but an inconsiderable crop, especially in barley, which was cheaper than wheat and which for that reason, among others, may be mentioned rather than wheat.

Verse 17

[17] If he sanctify his field from the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand.

From the year of jubilee — That is, immediately after the year of jubilee is past.

According to thy estimation — Now mentioned, of fifty shekels for an omer of barley seed.

It shall stand — That is, that price shall be paid without diminution.

Verse 18

[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.

After the jubilee — That is, some considerable time after. The defalcation from the full price of fifty shekels shall be more or less as the years are more or fewer.

Verse 20

[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.

If he will not redeem it — When the priest shall set a price upon it, and offer it to him in the first place to redeem it: or, rather and, for this seems to be added by way of accumulation, if he, that is, the priest, of whom he might have redeemed it, upon his refusal, offers it to sale, and have sold the field to another man - He shall for ever lose the benefit of redemption.

Verse 21

[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.

When it goeth out — That is, out of the possession of the other man to whom the priest sold it.

The possession shall be the priests — For their maintenance. Nor is this repugnant to that law, that the priests should have no inheritance in the land, Numbers 18:20, for that is only spoken of, the tribe of Levi in general, in reference to the first division of the land, wherein the Levites were not to have a distinct part of land, as other tribes had; but this doth not hinder, but some particular lands might be vowed and given to the priests, either for their own benefit, or for the service of the sanctuary.

Verse 22

[22] And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;

His possession — His patrimony or inheritance.

Verse 23

[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.

Thy estimation — That is, the price which thou, O Moses, by my direction hast set in such cases.

To the jubilee — As much as it is worth, for that space of time between the making of the vow and the year of jubilee: for he had no right to it for any longer time, as the next verse tells us.

As an holy thing — As that which is to be consecrated to God instead of the land redeemed by it.

Verse 25

[25] And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.

The shekel — About 2s. 6d.

Verse 26

[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.

No man shall sanctify it — By vow; because it is not his own, but the Lord's already, and therefore to vow such a thing to God is a tacit derogation from, and an usurpation of the Lord's right, and a mocking of God by pretending to give what we cannot withhold from him.

Or ox or sheep — Under these two eminent kinds he comprehends all other beasts which might be sacrificed to God, the firstlings whereof could not be redeemed but were to be sacrificed; whereas the firstlings of men were to be redeemed, and therefore were capable of being vowed, as we see, 1 Samuel 1:11.

Verse 27

[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.

An unclean beast — That is, if it be the first-born of an unclean beast, as appears from Leviticus 27:26, which could not be vowed, because it was a first-born, nor offered, because it was unclean, and therefore is here commanded to be redeemed or sold.

It shall be sold — And the price thereof was given to the priests, or brought into the Lord's treasury.

Verse 28

[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.

No devoted thing — That is, nothing which is absolutely devoted to God with a curse upon themselves or others, if they disposed not of it according to their vow; as the Hebrew word implies.

Most holy — That is, only to be touched or employed by the priests, and by no other persons; no not by their own families, for that was the state of the most holy things.

Verse 29

[29] None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.

Devoted of men — Not by men, as some would elude It; but of men, for it is manifest both from this and the foregoing verses, that men are here not the persons devoting, but devoted to destruction, either by God's sentence, as idolaters, Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 23:15, the Canaanites, Deuteronomy 20:17, the Amalekites, Deuteronomy 25:19, and 1 Samuel 15:3,26, Benhaded, 1 Kings 20:42, or by men, in pursuance of such a sentence of God, as Numbers 21:2; 3, or for any crime of an high nature, as Judges 21:5; Joshua 17:15. But this is not to be generally understood, as some have taken it, as if a Jew might by virtue of this Text, devote his child or his servant to the Lord, and thereby oblige himself to put them to death. For this is expressly limited to all that a man hath, or which is his, that is, which he hath a power over. But the Jews had no power over the lives of their children or servants, but were directly forbidden to take them away, by that great command, thou shalt do no murder. And seeing he that killed his servant casually by a blow with a rod was surely to be punished, as is said, Exodus 21:20, it could not be lawful wilfully to take away his life upon pretence of any such vow as this. But for the Canaanites, Amalekites, etc. God the undoubted Lord of all men's lives, gave to the Israelites a power over their persons and lives, and a command to put them to death. And this verse may have a special respect to them or such as them.

Verse 30

[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.

The tithe — There are divers sorts of tithes, but this seems to be understood only of the ordinary and yearly tithes belonging to the Levites, as the very expression intimates, and the addition of the fifth part in case of redemption thereof implies.

Verse 32

[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.

Under the rod — Either, 1. The tither's rod, it being the manner of the Jews in tithing to cause all their cattle to pass through some gate or narrow passage, where the tenth was marked by a person appointed for that purpose and reserved for the priest. Or 2. the shepherd's rod, under which the herds and flocks passed, and by which they were governed and numbered. See Jeremiah 33:13.

Verse 34

[34] These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai — This has reference to the whole book. Many of these commandments are moral: others ceremonial and peculiar to the Jewish economy: Which yet are instructive to us, who have a key to the mysteries that are contained in them. Upon the whole, we have cause to bless God, that we are not come to mount Sinai, that we are not under the dark shadows of the law, but enjoy the clear light of the gospel. The doctrine of our reconciliation to God by a Mediator, is not clouded with the smoke of burning sacrifices, but cleared by the knowledge of Christ, and him crucified. And we may praise him, that we are not under the yoke of the law, but under the sweet and easy instructions of the gospel, which pronounces those the true worshippers, that worship the Father in spirit and in truth, by Christ only, who is our priest, temple, altar, sacrifice, purification and all.

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