|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:32-39 Having covenanted against the sins of which they had been guilty, they obliged themselves to observe the duties they had neglected. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well. Let not any people expect the blessing of God, unless they keep up public worship. It is likely to go well with our houses, when care is taken that the work of God's house goes on well. When every one helps, and every one gives, though but little, toward a good work, the whole will come to be a large sum. We must do what we can in works of piety and charity; and whatever state we are placed in, cheerfully perform our duty to God, which will be the surest way to ease and liberty. As the ordinances of God are the appointed means of support to our souls, the believer will not grudge the expense; yet most people leave their souls to starve.
Verse 32. - To charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel. Hitherto the Jews had had no impost analogous to our "church-rate." The "half-shekel of the sanctuary," as it is called, being only payable on the rare, and forbidden, occasion of a census of the whole people (Exodus 30:13-16), could not possibly have served for the ordinary support of the temple service; but it was calculated to suggest to thoughtful minds the need of some regular fund, and the persons on whom the obligation lay to provide it. While the Jews were an independent nation, with their own kings and their own revenue, no difficulty had been felt in keeping up the service, since the kings easily provided for it; but in the existing condition of affairs the case was different. A "governor" was not like a king; he was responsible; he was removable; he was bound to remit the great bulk of the taxes to the court. Under these circumstances, and probably in connection with an immediate need, the idea arose of a special (voluntary) tax, to be paid annually by all adult males, for the support of the service, the continual provision of the morning and evening sacrifice, the incense, the shew-bread, the red heifers, the scape-goat, the numerous victims, and the numerous meat and drink offerings required on various occasions, and especially at each of the great festivals. It was felt that the provision in the law ruled two things -
1. The uniformity of the tax; and,
2. The sphere of its incidence - that it should be paid by all adult males.
With regard to its proper amount, that had to be fixed by a consideration of existing needs in comparison with existing means. The third part of a shekel was determined on, as sufficient at the time; but it was not long ere for the third part the half-shekel was substituted, a return being thus made to the standard fixed by the law, and an ample provision made for the maintenance of the established rites in full completeness and efficiency (comp. Matthew 17:24-27).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Also we made ordinance, for us,.... Laws among themselves, binding them to that which the laws of God did not:
to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel, for the service of the house of our God; the particulars of which follow in the next verse; for the defraying of which there used to be a treasury in the temple; but now there was none, and therefore they took this method to assess themselves; and being poor, instead of the half shekel, which in some cases was required, they only charged themselves with the third part of one; though Aben Ezra thinks this was added to the half shekel, and was paid over and above that; according to Brerewood (a), it was of the value of ten pence of our money: Waserus (b) has given us the figure of one of these coins, with this inscription, a "third" part of a shekel of Israel.
(a) De Pond. & Pret. Vet. Num. c. 1.((b) De Antiqu. Num. Heb. l. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God—The law required every individual above twenty years of age to pay half a shekel to the sanctuary. But in consequence of the general poverty of the people, occasioned by war and captivity, this tribute was reduced to a third part of a shekel.
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