Numbers 3:50
Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and three score and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
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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. No text from Poole on this verse. Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money,.... Or "for the firstborn", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, and so the Hebrew particle is sometimes used (u); for children of a month old or little more could not pay the money, but their parents for them, which was paid by them, and Moses received it for the superfluous number of two hundred seventy three; but it is a matter of doubt of whom this was exacted, and by whom paid, and who could be reckoned as this superfluous number, unless they were the last two hundred seventy three that were numbered: some have thought this was paid out of the public stock, which was a ready way of doing it, but whether reasonable is not so manifest, since these firstborn were the properties of particular persons; the more commonly received method of doing it with the Jewish writers was, according to Jarchi and Abarbinel, and so in the Talmud (w) by lot; the former of which describes the manner of doing it thus, 22,000 pieces (of paper or parchment) were brought, and on them written, "a son of Levi", or "a Levite", and two hundred seventy three other pieces, and on them were written, "five shekels"; these were mixed together and put into an urn or box, and then they were bid to come and take out the pieces, and according as the lot was, they were allowed as redeemed by the Levites, or paid the redemption money: and as this was a method much in use with the Hebrews, it is not improbable:

a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; 1,365 shekels, which is exactly the number of shekels that two hundred seventy three should pay, reckoning five shekels per head; which Jarchi counts thus, for two hundred firstborn, a thousand shekels; for seventy firstborn, three hundred fifty; and for three firstborn fifteen, shekels, which in all amounted to about an hundred seventy pounds of our money.

(u) Vid. Nold. Partic. Ebr. Concord. p. 579. (w) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 17. 1.

Of the {q} firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:

(q) Or the two hundred seventy and three which were more than the Levites.

After 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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