|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:26-33 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.
Verses 32, 33. - The tithe of the cattle could neither be vowed nor redeemed. As the young oxen and sheep passed under the rod by which they were counted by the herdsman, the tenth animal was touched (the rod, according to tradition, having been dipped in red paint), and handed over to the Levites. There was to be no change made in the animals, nor was commutation allowed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock,.... Of oxen and sheep, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; for this law only concerns such, as Maimonides (x) observes, for none but clean beasts were tithed, though the firstlings of unclean beasts were to be redeemed:
even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord: which being slain, the blood and fat were to be offered the altar, and the flesh eaten by the owners, as Jarchi observes; who adds, this is not reckoned with the rest of the gifts of the priesthood; and we do not find it was given to the priests: the "rod", under which these are said to pass, is either the shepherd's rod, as Aben Ezra under, which they passed morning and evening, when led out or brought in, as in Jeremiah 33:13; or the rod of the tither: the manner of tithing, as described by Maimonides, was this;"he gathers all the lambs and all the calves into a field, and makes a little door to it, so that two cannot go out at once; and he places their dams without, and they bleat, so that the lambs hear their voice, and go out of the fold to meet them, as it is said, "whatsoever passeth under the rod"; for it must pass of itself, and not be brought out by his hand; and when they go out of the fold, after another, he begins and counts them with the rod, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and the tenth that goes out, whether male or female, whether perfect or blemished, he marks with a red mark, and says, this is the tithe (y):''the time of tithing the cattle was on the first of Elul or August; for so it is said (z),"the first of Elul is the beginning of the year for the tithing of beasts;''when they tithed all that were born the preceding year: but we are elsewhere told (a), there were three times for tithing beasts; fifteen days before the passover, (which was the last of Adar or February,) and fifteen days before the Pentecost, and fifteen days before the feast of tabernacles, which was the last of Elul or August; and these tithings were made for the sake of those that went up to these feasts, that it might be certain the cattle sold and eaten were tithed.
(x) Hilchot Becorot, c. 6. sect. 1.((y) lbid. c. 7. sect. 1.((z) Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 1. sect. 1.((a) Misn. Becorot, c. 9. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. whatsoever passeth under the rod, &c.—This alludes to the mode of taking the tithe of cattle, which were made to pass singly through a narrow gateway, where a person with a rod, dipped in ochre, stood, and counting them, marked the back of every tenth beast, whether male or female, sound or unsound.
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