Ver. 2. Estimation. Heb. is obscure. "Whoever has separated, or made a singular vow; the souls to the Lord according to thy estimation." C.
--- Sept. "shall vow as it were the price of a soul to the Lord." H.
--- The person or the beast shall belong to the Lord; but if it be redeemed, the priests shall fix a price, according to the following regulations. Whatever was vowed must be subject to these rules, or it shall remain for the service of the altar. The priests may sell it, if it be an impure animal. Those which are fit for sacrifice, were to be immolated, v. 9, &c. No change of them was allowed, lest a worse should ever be substituted for a better; (C.) and because God is better pleased with things that are offered to him by vow. W.
Ver. 5. Fifth. The parents might make a vow of their children. M.
Ver. 8. The estimation. Heb. is pointed improperly, "thy estimation;" for the price was fixed already. The priest had leave to reduce it only in favour of the poor. Houbigant. See v. 2, and seq.
Ver. 13. That offereth it. This addition of the Vulgate shews, that if any other purchased the animal, he would not have to give a fifth part more than the value. That only concerned the person who had made the vow, to punish him for his inconstancy, and that he might not have a desire to get possession again of what he had once consecrated to the Lord. If the beast was valued at 40 sicles, he would therefore have to pay 50. C.
Ver. 15. House. The Rabbins say this fifth part went towards repairing the temple. We may suppose it was laid on to indemnify the priests, for the loss which they sustained by selling a house, or a field, (v. 16,) to the former owner; since if any other had purchased them, the priests would have been able to sell them again at the return of every jubilee. At that period, even the former proprietor would not obtain a title to possess them for ever; (v. 21,) and therefore he would not need to pay any more than the stated value. Tostat. C.
Ver. 16. Possession, or inheritance. If he had only purchased the field, he could not, by his vow, transfer the property of it to the priests beyond the year of jubilee, v. 22.
--- Seed, not of the produce, which is uncertain. The goodness of the soil must also be considered.
--- Silver: which rent must be paid every year, except on those of rest, when the earth was not cultivated. C.
Ver. 21. Consecrated. Heb. "a field of anathema," devoted and separated from common uses for ever to the Lord. H.
--- Priests. They were bound to sell it from one jubilee to another to some of the same tribe, to which the person, who vowed it, had belonged. M.
--- In the new law, religious people often consecrate themselves and their effects to the service of God; and it would be a sacrilege to alienate them from such pious uses to any thing profane. They are anathema, a deposit of offering to the Lord; while those who violate them, are anathema, accursed. H. T.
Ver. 25. Obols. Heb. "gerah." which were worth 1d.-2687; so that a sicle amounts to 2s. 3d.-375. Arbuthnot.
Ver. 26. First-born. Sept. add "a beasts." Men, though belonging to the Lord on that title already, (Ex. xiii. 2,) might still be more particularly consecrated to him by vow, as Samuel was. C.
--- A vow must be concerning some greater good to which we are not otherwise bound. Such vows are agreeable to God, and can never be broken without sin. See Gen. xxxi. 13. 1 Tim. v. 12. W.
Ver. 27. Unclean, either on account of some blemish, or because it is of those species which cannot be sacrificed; such as the horse, camel, &c. which might nevertheless be vowed to the Lord, and sold for the benefit of his priests.
--- By thee. Moses and the succeeding priests. Many MSS. read, with the Sept. and Chal. "by him," leaving the matter to the person's conscience; but the printed Hebrew and Vulgate agree. C.
Ver. 28. Devoted. Heb. "anathema," different from the other vows. In this case all that had life was slain, (or consecrated to God, H.) houses were demolished, the land belonged to the priests for ever, so that they could only let it out to laymen for a certain rent. Moses thus devoted the Amalecites to destruction; (Ex. xvii. 14,) and Saul had orders to put in execution what he had denounced, 1 K. xv. It is doubtful whether people could thus devote their children and slaves. Most authors suppose, that it was necessary that God or the nation at large should pronounce such a sentence, as was done with respect to Achan. Jos. viii. See Num. xxi. 2. Judg. xi. 31. C.
Ver. 29. Die. Grotius says, only public enemies and deserters could be thus devoted. Other men and women were only consecrated for ever to the divine service. D.
Ver. 30. Tithes. Abraham and Jacob paid tithes, out of devotion. Gen. xiv. and xxviii. 22. Moses first made a law on this subject, which began to be in force when the Hebrews had obtained quiet possession of Chanaan. The people paid them more exactly when they were determined to keep God's law, and had pious princes at their head. 2 Par. xxxi. 5. At other times they were very negligent. Mal. iii. 10. This forced Esdras to appoint inspectors, Namnim, to collect them. The Pharisees affected a decree of exactitude in this respect, (Lu. xi. 42. Matt. xxiii. 23,) paying what some Jews do not suppose to be necessary, though our Saviour says it was. Since the destruction of the temple the Jews pay none. The first-fruits and tithes of wheat, barley, figs, raisins, olives, pomegranates, and dates, were required, though it be not certain what quantity of the first-fruits was given; some say between the 40th and the 60th part of the produce. Wine and wool were also to be offered. The tithes were taken after the first-fruits and the heaved oblations (thorume) were paid. They belonged to the Levites, and these gave a tithe to the priests. Num. xviii. 28. See C. xix. 24. The Eastern kings required a tithe of their subjects, for the support of their families. 1 K. viii. 15. God does the like. Mal. iii. 10. The Persians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Arabs and Scythians, religiously paid their tithes in honour of their false gods. See Cyrop. iv. and Q. Curtius iv. 2. Herod. ii. 135. Plin. xii. 14. Mela. ii. 5, &c. The Romans often consecrate the tithes of their spoils to Hercules, as the Carthaginians did also. The Scythians sent them to Apollo. Solin 27, &c. C.
--- Scaliger and Amama dispose the tithes, and the oblations of the Hebrews, in the following order. Supposing a person's annual produce amount to 6000 bushels, an oblation (thorume) of at least 100 was to be made to the priests: out of the remaining 5900, a first tithe of 590 belonged to the Levites, out of which they paid 59 to the priests. The residue, of 5310 bushels, paid a second tithe of 531, to be consumed in feasts in the temple, (a custom which the ancient Christians imitated in their love-feasts, called agape. C.) The original produce was thus reduced to 4779 bushels; and both the tithes amounted to 1121 and the oblation to 100. The thorume consisted of flour dressed, and of oil, wine (Amama) and wool, (C.) to be given to the priests on the feast of Pentecost. C. xxiii. 15. It could not be less than the 60th part of the produce, (Ezec. xlv. 13.) and it was necessary to pay it before any could be used in the family. Hence these oblations are often called first-fruits, and have been confounded with those sheaves which were to be offered at the beginning of harvest. Amama.
Ver. 31. Of them. When the distance from Jerusalem was great, so that a person judged it more convenient to sell his tithes, and with the money purchase more for a feast in Jerusalem, (which the Rabbins call Zudui, Charisterion, grace or thanksgiving) he had to pay something additional, 12, for example, instead of 10. Scaliger.
Ver. 32. Rod; on which was some red colouring, to mark the tenth animal as it passed through a narrow gate. If it was proper for sacrifice, its blood was poured out around the altar, and its flesh was returned to the giver. If it could not be offered in sacrifice, it was slain. The priest received none of the victim, no more than the paschal lamb. Outram, sac. i. 11. But a feast was made of flesh for the person's friends, and he gave a portion to the poor and to the Levites.
--- The Lord, as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, in which the greatest part of the victim is consumed by the person who offers it. The priests have but a small share. C. iii. C.
Ver. 34. Sinai. The laws specified in the ten first chapters of the following book, were given here also. H.