Numbers 3:47
Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
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(47) Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll.—It is not stated in what manner the 273 families of whom the redemption money was exacted were determined. Inasmuch, however, as the law of the redemption of the firstborn by the payment of five shekels came into operation from this time (Numbers 18:16), it seems probable that the money was exacted in the case of those who had been most recently born; or it may be that the matter was decided by lot.

After the shekel of the sanctuary.—See Exodus 30:13, where the expression occurs for the first time, and the value of the shekel is stated, as in this verse.

Numbers 3:47. Five shekels — Which was the price paid for the redemption of a firstborn a month old.

3:40-51 The number of the first-born, and that of the Levites, came near to each other. Known unto God are all his works beforehand; there is an exact proportion between them, and so it will appear, when they are compared together. The small number of first-born, over and above the number of the Levites, were to be redeemed, and the redemption-money given to Aaron. The church is called the church of the first-born, which is redeemed, not as they were, with silver and gold; but, being devoted by sin to the justice of God, is ransomed with the precious blood of the Son of God. All men are the Lord's by creation, and all true christians are his by redemption. Each should know his own post and duty; nor can any service required by such a Master be rightly accounted mean or hard.This redemption money (see the marginal references) would perhaps be exacted from the parents of the "youngest" children of the 22,273 Numbers 3:43. The cattle of the Levites was doubtless taken in the gross as an equivalent for the first-born cattle of the other tribes, which of course, no less than the first-born of men, belonged to the Lord; and in future would have to be redeemed Numbers 18:15; Deuteronomy 15:19. 41. the cattle of the Levites—These, which they kept to graze on the glebes and meadows in the suburbs of their cities, to supply their families with dairy produce and animal food, were also taken as an equivalent for all the firstlings of the cattle which the Israelites at that time possessed. In consequence of this exchange the firstlings were not brought then, as afterwards, to the altar and the priests. Five shekels apiece was the price to be paid for the redemption of a first-born a month old, Numbers 18:15,16; but this money, though paid for these 273 persons, was probably paid out of the common stock of all, except lots were cast who should pay, which is not probable in so small a concern accompanied with so much trouble.

Thou shall even take five shekels apiece the poll,.... Or head; every firstborn, or his parent for him, was bound to pay five shekels, which were about eleven or twelve shillings of our money, and which was afterwards settled as the price of such a redemption, Numbers 18:16,

after the shekel of the sanctuary shall thou take them; being full weight according to the standard there kept:

the shekel is twenty gerahs; See Gill on Leviticus 27:25.

Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
47. the shekel of the sanctuary] Perhaps better the sacred shekel. This was the ancient Hebrew-Phoenician shekel. At the time of the writer the official coinage for secular purposes was the Persian-Babylonian, in which the shekel was some 28 grs. heavier. The Hebrew silver shekel used for sacred purposes weighed about 224.6 grs. Its actual value can be roughly estimated from the fact that in our Lord’s time the denarius paid to a labourer for a day’s work (Matthew 20:2) weighed 60 grs.

the shekel is twenty gerahs] The parenthetical explanation was needful to distinguish between the sacred and the official coinage. The gçrâh was equivalent to the Greek obolus (which is the rendering in the LXX.), and weighed 11.23 grs. A good account of the Hebrew coinage will be found in Hastings’ DB. iii., art. ‘Money.’

Verse 47. - Five shekels apiece. This amount had already been fixed (Leviticus 27:6, if indeed this chapter does not belong to a later period as the commutation value of a male child under five years old who had been vowed unto the Lord. If the redeeming of the first-born by the Levites began with the eldest, those that were left over would all be within this age. A shekel. See Exodus 30:13. Numbers 3:47After this, Moses numbered the first-born of the children of Israel, to exchange them for the Levites according to the command of God, which is repeated in Numbers 3:41 and Numbers 3:44-45 from Numbers 3:11-13, and to adopt the latter in their stead for the service at the sanctuary (on Numbers 3:41 and Numbers 3:45, cf. Numbers 3:11-13). The number of the first-born of the twelve tribes amounted to 22,273 of a month old and upwards (Numbers 3:43). Of this number 22,000 were exchanged for the 22,000 Levites, and the cattle of the Levites were also set against the first-born of the cattle of the tribes of Israel, though without their being numbered and exchanged head for head. In Numbers 3:44 and Numbers 3:45 the command of God concerning the adoption of the Levites is repeated, for the purpose of adding the further instructions with regard to the 273, the number by which the first-born of the tribes exceeded those of the Levites. "And as for the redemption of the 273 (lit., the 273 to be redeemed) of the first-born of the children of Israel which were more than the Levites, thou shalt take five shekels a head," etc. This was the general price established by the law for the redemption of the first-born of men (see Numbers 18:16). On the sacred shekel, see at Exodus 30:13. The redemption money for 273 first-born, in all 1365 shekels, was to be paid to Aaron and his sons as compensation for the persons who properly belonged to Jehovah, and had been appointed as first-born for the service of the priests.
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