Leviticus 27:32
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Whatsoever passeth under the rod.—That is, for the purpose of counting and tithing them. The manner in which this was done is described by the Jewish canonists as follows: “The owner is to gather all his lambs or all his calves into the fold and make a little door to it, so that two should not be able to go out at once. He is to place their dams without. As they bleat the lambs hear their voice and go out of the fold to meet them, as it is said, ‘whatsoever passeth under the rod’ (Leviticus 27:32), since it must pass of itself, and not be brought out by his hand. And as they come out of the fold one after another he counts them with the rod, one, two, three, etc., and the tenth which comes out, whether it be male or female, whether it be perfect or blemished, he marks it with a red mark, and says, ‘This is the tithe.’” It is to this custom that the prophet alludes when he says, “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:37), that is, shall once more claim you, being marked as belonging to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:32. Under the rod — Either, 1st, The tithers’ 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, 2d, The shepherd’s rod, under which the herds and flocks passed, and by which they were governed and numbered. See Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37.27:26-33 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.Whatsoever passeth under the rod - According to rabbinical tradition, the animals to be tithed were enclosed in a pen, and as they went out one by one at the opening, every tenth animal was touched with a rod dipped in vermilion. Compare the margin reference.

For a more full explanation of what relates to tithes, see the margin reference and Genesis 14:20; Deuteronomy 14:22, Deuteronomy 14:28.

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. 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 Ezekiel 20:37. 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.

And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the {q} rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

(q) All that which is numbered: that is, every tenth as he falls by tale without exception or respect.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. under the rod] the ‘staff’ carried by shepherds (Psalm 23:4; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 11:7), and used (Tal. Bab., Bechoroth, fol. 58 b) for counting the flock when they were entering or leaving their fold. For the phrase, and for the reference by classical writers to similar customs, see Davidson (C.B.) on Ezekiel 20:37.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. What belonged to the Lord by law could not be dedicated to Him by a vow, especially the first-born of clean cattle (cf. Exodus 13:1-2). The first-born of unclean animals were to be redeemed according to the valuation of the priest, with the addition of a fifth; and if this was not done, it was to be sold at the estimated value. By this regulation the earlier law, which commanded that an ass should either be redeemed with a sheep or else be put to death (Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20), was modified in favour of the revenues of the sanctuary and its servants.
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