Leviticus 27:28
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) Notwithstanding no devoted thing.—Better, Nevertheless, no banned thing (see Leviticus 27:26), that is, unlike those things consecrated to God by the vow hitherto spoken of, anything which the vower devoted to God under a solemn ban cannot be redeemed.

Both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession.—This shows the extent to which a man may go in exercising his power to devote things to God in this manner. He was perfectly at liberty to ban not only his cattle and his otherwise inalienable inherited land, but also those human beings over whom he had control—his children and slaves.

Every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.—Being most holy, any thing or person thus devoted to the Lord could neither be sold by the officials of the sanctuary nor be redeemed by the vower who had in this manner banned the objects of his vow. All gifts devoted under the ban became the property of the priests. (See Leviticus 27:17; Numbers 18:14; Ezekiel 44:29.)

Leviticus 27:28. 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.

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.Devoted thing - The primary meaning of the Heb. word חרם chērem is something cut off, or shut up. Its specific meaning in the Law is, that which is cut off from common use and given up in some sense to Yahweh, without the right of recal or commutation. It is applied to a field wholly appropriated to the sanctuary Leviticus 27:21, and to whatever was doomed to destruction 1 Samuel 15:21; 1 Kings 20:42. Our translators have often rendered the word by "cursed," or "a curse," which in some places may convey the right sense, but it should be remembered that the terms are not identical in their compass of meaning (Deuteronomy 7:26; Joshua 6:17-18; Joshua 7:1; Isaiah 34:5; Isaiah 43:28, etc. Compare Galatians 3:13).

Of man and beast - This passage does not permit human sacrifices. Man is elsewhere clearly recognized as one of the creatures which were not to be offered in sacrifice Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20; Numbers 18:15.

Therefore the application of the word חרם chērem to man is made exclusively in reference to one rightly doomed to death and, in that sense alone, given up to Yahweh. The man who, in a right spirit, either carries out a sentence of just doom on an offender, or who, with a single eye to duty, slays an enemy in battle, must regard himself as God's servant rendering up a life to the claim of the divine justice (compare Romans 13:4). It was in this way that Israel was required to destroy the Canaanites at Hormah (Numbers 21:2-3; compare Deuteronomy 13:12-18), and that Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord 1 Samuel 15:33. In all such instances, a moral obligation rests upon him whose office it is to take the life: he has to look upon the object of his stroke as under a ban to the Lord (compare Deuteronomy 20:4; Galatians 3:13). Therefore, there can be neither redemption nor commutation.

It is evident that the righteousness of this law is not involved in the sin of rash or foolish vows, such as Saul's 1 Samuel 14:24 or Jephthah's Judges 11:30.

And it seems hardly needful to add that sacrifice, as it is represented both in the Law and in the usage of the patriarchs, is something very different from consecration under a ban, though a tiring to be sacrificed might come under the designation of חרם chērem in its wider sense. The sacrifice was always the offering up of the innocent life of a creature chosen, approved, and without spot or blemish.

28, 29. no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, … shall be sold or redeemed—This relates to vows of the most solemn kind—the devotee accompanying his vow with a solemn imprecation on himself not to fail in accomplishing his declared purpose. No devoted thing, i.e. 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.

Of all that he hath, to wit, in his power or possession.

Is most holy unto the Lord, i.e. 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.

Notwithstanding, no devoted thing that a man shall devote unto the Lord,.... This is a different vow from the former, expressed by "sanctifying"; for though "sanctifying" and "devoting" were both vows, yet the latter had an execration or curse added to it, by which a man imprecated a curse upon himself, if that itself, which he devoted, was put to any other use than that for which he devoted it; wherefore this sort of vow was absolute and irrevocable, and what was vowed was unalienable, and therefore not to be sold or redeemed as afterwards expressed, whereas things sanctified might:

of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; but must be put to the use for which it was devoted. This must be understood of such as were his own, and he had a right to dispose of; which were in his own power, as Aben Ezra interprets the phrase, "of all that he hath": if of men, they must be such as were his slaves, which he had a despotic power over; such as he could sell, or give to another, or leave to his children for a perpetual inheritance, Leviticus 25:46; and could dispose of as he pleased, and so devote to the service of the priests: thus Jarchi interprets it of menservants and maidservants, Canaanitish ones; and if of beasts, such as were his own property, and not another's; and if of fields, such as were his possession by inheritance. Some Jewish writers, as Abendana, from the phrase, "of all that he hath", gather, that a man might devote only a part of what he had, and not the whole; and so it is said in the Misnah,"a man may devote of his flock and of his herd, of his servants and maidens Canaanites, and of the field of his possession; but if he devote all of them, they are not devoted (k),''the vow is null and void; and so one of the commentators (l) upon it says, he may devote some movable things, but not all; some of his Canaanitish servants and maidens, but not all; some part of the field of his possession, but not the whole: but a man's children, and Hebrew servants, and purchased fields, according to the Jewish canon, might not be devoted;"if anyone devotes his son or his daughter, his servant or his handmaid, that are Hebrews, or the field of his purchase, they are not devoted (or to be reckoned so), for no man devotes (or ought to devote) what is not his own (m).''A commentator (n) excepts his daughter, and says, he may devote his daughter, because he may sell her while a minor, but not an adult virgin; see Exodus 21:7,

every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord; and therefore not to be appropriated to any use but his, nor to be meddled with, not even touched or handled by any but the priests, as the most holy things that were eatable were only to be eaten by them.

(k) Eracin, c. 8. sect. 4. (l) Bartenora in ib. (m) lb. sect. 5. (n) Bartenora in Misn. Eracin, c. 8. sect. 5.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. no devoted thing] The word lit. means set apart, separated (Arab. harama, whence harem, the occupants of the women’s portion of a Mohammedan house, or the apartments themselves). See on Exodus 22:20 for examples of its application, and for the superiority of R.V. over A.V. in the English rendering. For the different species of separation in this sense see HDB., Art. Ban (Kennedy), where a distinction is drawn between objects set apart for God by individuals (the ‘private ban’) referred to in this v., and those persons, such as the idolater or blasphemer, who were subjected to a judicial sentence by the authorities. The latter are those meant in Leviticus 27:29

Verses 28, 29. - Whatever is already cherem (a word here first used as a term well understood), that is, devoted to God, whether devoted for the purpose of destruction or of entire surrender to him, may be neither redeemed nor sold. Whether it be of man, like the Canaanites at Hormah (Numbers 21:2), or of beast, as the sheep and oxen of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:21), or of the field, as referred to in verse 21, or of other inanimate objects, as the cities of Hormah (Numbers 21:2), it is either to be put to death or given up without reserve or commutation to God's ministers. In the case of men they must be put to death. "This provision would have applied only to the devoting of those who were already manifestly under the ban of Jehovah those guilty of such outrageous and flagrant violation of the fundamental law of the covenant that they manifestly came under the penalty of death. Such persons, instead of being tried and condemned, might be at once devoted and put to death" (Gardiner). "To this it may be added that the devotion by ban (cherem) of any object or person was not to be done by private persons, at their own will, but was performed by the civil magistrates, under known conditions and laws; e.g. the cities of idolaters, such as Jericho, were so devoted, and the inhabitants, by the command of God himself, who made his people to be the executioners of his judgments against inveterate idolatry (see Deuteronomy 13:13; Joshua 6:17)" (Wordsworth). Leviticus 27:28Moreover, nothing put under the ban, nothing that a man had devoted (banned) to the Lord of his property, of man, beast, or the field of his possession, was to be sold or redeemed, because it was most holy (see at Leviticus 2:3). The man laid under the ban was to be put to death. According to the words of Leviticus 27:28, the individual Israelite was quite at liberty to ban, not only his cattle and field, but also men who belonged to him, that is to say, slaves and children. החרים signifies to dedicate something to the Lord in an unredeemable manner, as cherum, i.e., ban, or banned. חרם (to devote, or ban), judging from the cognate words in the Arabic, signifying prohibere, vetare, illicitum facere, illicitum, sacrum, has the primary signification "to cut off," and denotes that which is taken away from use and abuse on the part of men, and surrendered to God in an irrevocable and unredeemable manner, viz., human beings by being put to death, cattle and inanimate objects by being either given up to the sanctuary for ever or destroyed for the glory of the Lord. The latter took place, no doubt, only with the property of idolaters; at all events, it is commanded simply for the infliction of punishment on idolatrous towns (Deuteronomy 13:13.). It follows from this, however, that the vow of banning could only be made in connection with persons who obstinately resisted that sanctification of life which was binding upon them; and that an individual was not at liberty to devote a human being to the ban simply at his own will and pleasure, otherwise the ban might have been abused to purposes of ungodliness, and have amounted to a breach of the law, which prohibited the killing of any man, even though he were a slave (Exodus 21:20). In a manner analogous to this, too, the owner of cattle and fields was only allowed to put them under the ban when they had been either desecrated by idolatry or abused to unholy purposes. For there can be no doubt that the idea which lay at the foundation of the ban was that of a compulsory dedication of something which resisted or impeded sanctification; so that in all cases in which it was carried into execution by the community or the magistracy, it was an act of the judicial holiness of God manifesting itself in righteousness and judgment.
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