Leviticus 27:8
But if he be poorer than your estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) But if he be poorer than thy estimation.—That is, if the person who makes the vow possesses less than the specified legal rates required to redeem it.

Then he shall present himself before the priest.—The man pleading poverty is to appear before the priest, who is to examine into his circumstances, and tax him accordingly. The minimum, however, which he was obliged to pay during the second Temple was one shekel. If anyone neglected paying his vows to the Temple treasury, his goods were seized by the officials. This, however, had to be done in such a manner as not to deprive the man of his means of subsistence. The bailiffs were obliged to leave a mechanic two sets of tools, a husbandman a yoke of oxen, and a donkey driver his donkey. They were bound to leave food sufficient for thirty days, and bedding for twelve months; and they could never seize the man’s sandals or phylacteries, or his wife’s property, or his children’s clothes.

27:1-13 Zeal for the service of God disposed the Israelites, on some occasions, to dedicate themselves or their children to the service of the Lord, in his house for life. Some persons who thus dedicated themselves might be employed as assistants; in general they were to be redeemed for a value. It is good to be zealously affected and liberally disposed for the Lord's service; but the matter should be well weighed, and prudence should direct as to what we do; else rash vows and hesitation in doing them will dishonour God, and trouble our own minds.If he be poorer than thy estimation - Too poor (to pay) thy valuation. Compare Leviticus 27:7, Leviticus 27:11. 2-8. When a man shall make a singular vow, &c.—Persons have, at all times and in all places, been accustomed to present votive offerings, either from gratitude for benefits received, or in the event of deliverance from apprehended evil. And Moses was empowered, by divine authority, to prescribe the conditions of this voluntary duty.

the persons shall be for the Lord, &c.—better rendered thus:—"According to thy estimation, the persons shall be for the Lord." Persons might consecrate themselves or their children to the divine service, in some inferior or servile kind of work about the sanctuary (1Sa 3:1). In the event of any change, the persons so devoted had the privilege in their power of redeeming themselves; and this chapter specifies the amount of the redemption money, which the priest had the discretionary power of reducing, as circumstances might seem to require. Those of mature age, between twenty and sixty, being capable of the greatest service, were rated highest; young people, from five till twenty, less, because not so serviceable; infants, though devotable by their parents before birth (1Sa 1:11), could not be offered nor redeemed till a month after birth; old people were valued below the young, but above children; and the poor—in no case freed from payment, in order to prevent the rash formation of vows—were rated according to their means.

If he be poorer than thy estimation; if after his vow he be decayed and impoverished, and not able to pay the price which thou, according to the rules here given, requirest of him.

According to his ability; which God also considered in other cases, as Leviticus 12:8. Compare 2 Corinthians 8:12. But if he be poorer than thy estimation,.... If he is so poor that he is not able to pay the value that, is set upon him, according to the rules before given:

then he shall present himself before the priest; that has made the estimation, according to the above directions, observing the difference of years, and of male and female; but if a person could not pay the said sums that were appointed, he might apply to the priest, and tell his case:

and the priest shall value him; put a price upon him he is able to pay, as follows:

according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him; he was to examine into his circumstances, and as they appeared to him he was to put a value on him, which was to be paid, but not less than, a shekel; for if he could not pay that, it was to remain as a debt until he could (q); and it was the ability of him that made the vow that was to be inquired into, and according to which the estimation was to be made, and not of him that was vowed: so it is said in the Misnah,"ability is regarded in the vower, and years in the vowed, and estimations in the estimated, and according to the tithe of the estimation: ability in the vower, how? a poor man that estimates a rich man, pays the value of a poor man; and a rich man that estimates a poor man, pays the value of a rich man: if he is poor and afterwards becomes rich, or rich and afterwards poor, he pays the price of a rich man (r);''but the sense which Jarchi gives is, that a priest in such a case was to judge according to what a man has, and so order him to pay, but was to leave him so as he might live, a bed and bolster, and working tools, and if he had an ass he might leave him that.

(q) Maimon. Hilchot Eracin, c. 3. sect. 4. (r) Misn. Eracin, c. 4. sect. 1, 2.

But if he be poorer {e} than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.

(e) If he is not able to pay according to your estimate.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. The case of the poor person. Cp. ch. Leviticus 5:11.Verse 8. - A discretion is left with the priest to lower these valuations in case the man who has made the vow is very poor. According to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him. The vowing of persons. - "If any one make a special vow, souls shall be to the Lord according to thy valuation." נדר הפליא does not mean to dedicate or set apart a vow, but to make a special vow (see at Leviticus 22:21). The words בּערכּך, "according to thy (Moses') valuation," it is more simple to regard as an apodosis, so as to supply to ליהוה the substantive verb תּהיינה, than as a fuller description of the protasis, in which case the apodosis would follow in Leviticus 27:3, and the verb יקדּישׁ would have to be supplied. But whatever may be the conclusion adopted, in any case this thought is expressed in the words, that souls, i.e., persons, were to be vowed to the Lord according to Moses' valuation, i.e., according to the price fixed by Moses. This implies clearly enough, that whenever a person was vowed, redemption was to follow according to the valuation. Otherwise what was the object of valuing them? Valuation supposes either redemption or purchase. But in the case of men (i.e., Israelites) there could be no purchasing as slaves, and therefore the object of the valuing could only have been for the purpose of redeeming, buying off the person vowed to the Lord, and the fulfilment of the vow could only have consisted in the payment into the sanctuary of the price fixed by the law.

(Note: Saalschtz adopts this explanation in common with the Mishnah. Oehler is wrong in citing 1 Samuel 2:11, 1 Samuel 2:22, 1 Samuel 2:28 as a proof of the opposite. For the dedication of Samuel did not consist of a simple vow, but was a dedication as a Nazarite for the whole of his life, and Samuel was thereby vowed to service at the sanctuary, whereas the law says nothing about attachment to the sanctuary in the case of the simple vowing of persons. But because redemption in the case of persons was not left to the pleasure or free-will of the person making the vow as in the case of material property, no addition is made to the valuation price as though for a merely possible circumstance.)

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