Numbers 18:17
But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy: you shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and shall burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet smell to the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 18:17-18. They are holy — Namely, in a peculiar manner, consecrated to a holy use, even to be sacrificed to God, Deuteronomy 15:19. The flesh — All the flesh of them, and not only some parts, as in other sacrifices.18:8-19 All believers are spiritual priests, and God has promised to take care of them. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is. And from the provision here made for the priests, the apostle shows that it is the duty of christian churches to maintain their ministers. Scandalous maintenance makes scandalous ministers. The priests were to be wholly devoted to their ministry, not diverted from it, or disturbed in it, by worldly care or business. Also, that they might be examples of living by faith, not only in God's providence, but in his ordinances. The best should be offered for the first-fruits unto the Lord. Those who think to save, by putting God off with the refuse, deceive themselves, for God is not mocked.Surely redeem ... redeem - A stronger expression is intentionally used in reference to the redemption of the first-born of man than in reference to that of unclean beasts. For the rule as to the former admitted of no exception: the owner of the latter, if unwilling to redeem, might destroy the beasts. Compare the marginal references. 14. Every thing devoted in Israel shall be thine—provided it was adapted for food or consumable by use; for the gold and silver vessels that were dedicated as the spoils of victory were not given to the priests, but for the use and adornment of the sacred edifice. They are holy, to wit, in a peculiar manner, and higher degree than other beasts, consecrated to a holy use, even to be sacrificed unto God, and not to be redeemed nor alienated to any other use. Compare Deu 15:19. But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem,.... That is, shalt not take the redemption price for them, but the creatures themselves; which they, the priests, were to take for their own use:

they are holy; separated to the Lord, and therefore not to be used in common by men, but were sacred to the Lord, or became the property of his priests; see Deuteronomy 15:19; how they were to be made use of follows:

thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar; for they were to be sacrificed, and their blood used as in other sacrifices:

and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire; for a sweet savour unto the Lord; as the fat of other sacrifices was, and particularly of the peace offerings, which were wholly eaten otherwise, Leviticus 7:31.

But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not {i} redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.

(i) Because they are appointed for sacrifice.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 17. - But the firstling of a cow, &c. Only those things which were not available for sacrifice could be redeemed; the rest must be offered to him that claimed them. The first-born of men belonged partially to both classes: on the one hand, they could not be sacrificed, and therefore were redeemed with money; on the other hand, they could be dedicated (being clean), and therefore had been exchanged for the Levites. The Revenues of the Priests. - These are summed up in Numbers 18:8 in these words, "I give thee the keeping of My heave-offerings in all holy gifts for a portion, as an eternal statute." The notion of משׁמרת, keeping, as in Exodus 12:6; Exodus 16:23, Exodus 16:32, is defined in the second parallel clause as משׁחה, a portion (see at Leviticus 7:35). The priests were to keep all the heave-offerings, as the portion which belonged to them, out of the sacrificial gifts that the children of Israel offered to the Lord. תּרוּמת, heave-offerings (see at Exodus 25:2, and Leviticus 2:9), is used here in the broadest sense, as including all the holy gifts (kodashim, see Leviticus 21:22) which the Israelites lifted off from their possessions and presented to the Lord (as in Numbers 5:9). Among these, for example, were, first of all, the most holy gifts in the meat-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings (Numbers 18:9, Numbers 18:10; see at Leviticus 2:3). The burnt-offerings are not mentioned, because the whole of the flesh of these was burned upon the altar, and the skin alone fell to the portion of the priest (Leviticus 7:8). "From the fire," sc., of the altar. אשׁ, fire, is equivalent to אשּׁה ot , firing (see Leviticus 1:9). These gifts they were to eat, as most holy, in a most holy place, i.e., in the court of the tabernacle (see Leviticus 6:9, Leviticus 6:19; Leviticus 7:6), which is called "most holy" here, to lay a stronger emphasis upon the precept. In the second place, these gifts included also "the holy gifts;" viz., (a) (Numbers 18:11) the heave-offering of their gifts in all wave-offerings (tenuphoth), i.e., the wave-breast and heave-leg of the peace-offerings, and whatever else was waved in connection with the sacrifices (see at Leviticus 7:33): these might be eaten by both the male and female members of the priestly families, provided they were legally clean (Leviticus 22:3.); (b) (Numbers 18:12) the gifts of first-fruits: "all the fat (i.e., the best, as in Genesis 45:18) of oil, new wine, and corn," viz., ראשׁיתם, "the first of them," the בּכּוּרים, "the first-grown fruits" of the land, and that of all the fruit of the ground (Deuteronomy 26:2, Deuteronomy 26:10; Proverbs 3:9; Ezekiel 44:30), corn, wine, oil, honey, and tree-fruit (Deuteronomy 8:8, compared with Leviticus 19:23-24), which were offered, according to 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 10:36, Nehemiah 10:38, Tob. 1:6, as first-fruits every year (see Mishnah, Bikkur, i. 3, 10, where the first-fruits are specified according to the productions mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8; the law prescribed nothing in relation to the quantity of the different first-fruits, but left this entirely to the offerer himself); (c) (Numbers 18:14) everything placed under a ban (see at Leviticus 27:28); and (d) (Numbers 18:15-18) the first-born of man and beast. The first-born of men and of unclean beasts were redeemed according to Numbers 3:47; Exodus 13:12-13, and Leviticus 27:6, Leviticus 27:27; but such as were fit for sacrifice were actually offered, the blood being swung against the altar, and the fat portions burned upon it, whilst the whole of the flesh fell to the portion of the priests. So far as the redemption of human beings was concerned (Numbers 18:16), they were "to redeem from the monthly child," i.e., the first-born child as soon as it was a month old.
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