|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
30:11-16 The tribute was half a shekel, about fifteen pence of our money. The rich were not to give more, nor the poor less; the souls of the rich and poor are alike precious, and God is no respecter of persons, Ac 10:34; Job 34:19. In other offerings men were to give according to their wordly ability; but this, which was the ransom of the soul, must be alike for all. The souls of all are of equal value, equally in danger, and all equally need a ransom. The money raised was to be used in the service of the tabernacle. Those who have the benefit, must not grudge the necessary charges of God's public worship. Money cannot make atonement for the soul, but it may be used for the honour of Him who has made the atonement, and for the maintenance of the gospel by which the atonement is applied.
Verses 11-16. - THE RANSOM OF SOULS. The various commands given with respect to the tabernacle and its furniture would necessarily involve a very considerable outlay; and it was important that Moses should receive directions as to the source, or sources, whence this expenditure was to come. In Exodus 25:2-7, one source had been indicated, viz., the voluntary contributions of the people. To this is now added a second source. On occasion of rite numbering of the people - an event which is spoken of as impending (ver. 12) - Moses was told to exact from each of them, as atonement money, the sum of half a shekel of silver. The produce of this tax was to be applied to the work of the sanctuary (ver. 16), and it is found to have formed an important clement in the provision for the cost, since the total amount was above a hundred talents, or, more exactly, 301,775 shekels (Exodus 38:25). The requirement of atonement money seems to have been based on the idea, that formal enrolment in the number of God's faithful people necessarily brought home to every man his unworthiness to belong to that holy company, and so made him feel the need of making atonement in some way or other. The payment of the half-shekel was appointed as the legal mode under those circumstances. It was an acknowledgment of sin, equally binding upon all, and so made equal for all; and it saved from God's vengeance those who, if they had boon too proud to make it, would have been punished by some "plague" or other (ver. 12).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... Continued his discourse; or, there being some intermission, reassumed it:
saying; as follows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11-16. When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, &c.—Moses did so twice, and doubtless observed the law here prescribed. The tax was not levied from women, minors, old men (Nu 1:42, 45), and the Levites (Nu 1:47), they being not numbered. Assuming the shekel of the sanctuary to be about half an ounce troy, though nothing certain is known about it, the sum payable by each individual was two and four pence. This was not a voluntary contribution, but a ransom for the soul or lives of the people. It was required from all classes alike, and a refusal to pay implied a wilful exclusion from the privileges of the sanctuary, as well as exposure to divine judgments. It was probably the same impost that was exacted from our Lord (Mt 17:24-27), and it was usually devoted to repairs and other purposes connected with the services of the sanctuary.
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