For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

27:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


27:2.  “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the person shall be for the Lord by thy estimation.”


“Singular” in the present context means great, difficult, wonderful, special, and it was singular because it involved the surrender or dedication of something, e.g., a thing, a valuable animal, or a person to God, the prime example of this being Hannah’s dedication of her son Samuel, as recorded in 1 Samuel 1:11.


What is in view here however, is the procedure to be followed when the dedicator desired to change his mind relative to the dedication of a person, e.g., his son or daughter.  Moses was then to place a monetary value on that dedicated person.


27:3.  “And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.”


If the dedicated person were a male between twenty and sixty years old, the redemption price was fifty shekels of silver, reckoned by most scholars to have been about 50 month’s wages, “after the shekel of the sanctuary” making it clear that the value was to be by God’s evaluation, not man’s.


27:4.  “And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.”


27:5.  “And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.”


27:6.  “And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.”


The lesser redemption of the female is generally considered to have been due to the fact that she was physically unable to do the same heavy work as the male.


27:7.  “And if it be from sixty years old and above, if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.”


The lesser value here is related to age.  At sixty the best of the individual’s working days were past.


27:8.  “But if he be poorer 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.”


In this case the value was to be proportionate to the individual’s financial state.


27:9.  “And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the Lord shall be holy.”


Taylor translates this, “But if it is an animal that is vowed to be given to the Lord as a sacrifice, it must be given.”  It could not be redeemed.  It is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who must die if we were to receive God’s gift of eternal life.


27:10.  “He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.”


Once an animal was dedicated to the Lord it could not be exchanged for another; and where such an exchange was attempted, then neither animal could be redeemed: both belonged to the Lord, and were given to the priest.


27:11.  “And if it be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the Lord, then he shall present the beast before the priest:”


27:12.  “And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.”


27:13.  “But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.”


The ass was an unclean animal; and where a man had nothing else to offer, he was to bring it to the priest for evaluation, following which it seems that he sold it for the price determined by the priest, and then gave the money, plus an extra fifth, to the Lord.


The unclean animal, which could be redeemed, is a type of the sinner, its redemption price being a type of the price paid by Lord Jesus Christ for the redemption of our souls.  The extra fifth declares not only the truth that His life was worth far more than our’s, but that by redemption we have been made precious to God.


27:14.  “And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the Lord, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.”


Where a man decided to give his house to the Lord he was to have its sale price determined by the priest, and when it was sold, the money was then to be given in full to the Lord.


27:15.  “And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.”


If the man later decided that he wanted to buy back his house he could do so, but only by paying a fifth more than the price for which he had sold it.


27:16.  “And if a man shall sanctify unto the Lord some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.”


When a man decided to give part of his land to the Lord, he was to have the priest evaluate it, its worth being measured by the number of homers of barley seed required to sow it each year until the year of jubilee, each homer being worth fifty shekels of silver.


27:17.  “If he sanctify his field from the year of jubilee, according to thy estimation it shall stand.”


If the field was dedicated in the first year of a jubilee period, i.e., a period of fifty years at the end of which ownership would revert to the seller, the value would be calculated by the worth of the barley seed needed to sow it each year, according to the estimate of the priest.


27:18.  “But if he sanctify his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubilee, and it shall be abated from thy estimation.”


If the field were sold after the Jubilee its value was to be calculated by the worth of the corps it would produce in the years remaining until the next jubilee.  In other words, its value would obviously diminish the nearer the time of sale was to that next jubilee.


27:19.  “And if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be assured to him.”


In the event that the seller later wished to buy back the land, the price he must pay was to be as calculated above, plus an extra fifth of that same amount.


27:20.  “And if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.”


If the first owner didn’t redeem the field within the legislated time, or if within that time the second owner had sold it to a third party, then it could not be redeemed any more.


27:21.  “But the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy unto the Lord, as a field devoted; the possession thereof shall be the priest’s.”


In the jubilee, when the field would normally have reverted to the original owner, that which had been sold to a third party would not revert, but would instead become the possession of the priest.


27:22.  “And if a man sanctify unto the Lord a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;”


27:23.  “Then the priest shall reckon unto him the worth of thy estimation, even unto the year of the jubilee: and he shall give thine estimation in that day, as a holy thing unto the Lord.”


27:24.  “In the year of the jubilee the field shall return unto him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong.”


Concerning a bought field (which would revert to the original owner in the year of jubilee): if the purchaser sanctified or dedicated it to the Lord, i.e., determined to give to the Lord the cash equivalent of the crops it would produce in the years until the next jubilee, the priest was the one who was to make that evaluation so that it would be impartial.


27:25.  “And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.”


This declares the truth that all things were to be done according to God’s standards, nothing being left to the vagaries of human imagination.


27:26.  “Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the Lord’s firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep, it is the Lord’s.”


Man was not permitted to dedicate to the Lord the firstborn of ox or sheep, because all such already belonged to Him as Creator.


27:27.  “And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to thine estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thy estimation.”


An unclean animal was to be redeemed by giving to God in cash the priest’s estimate of its worth, plus an additional fifth.  If the man refused to redeem it, then he must sell it: he was not allowed to keep it.


27:28.  “Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.”


When a man had promised to give something unto the Lord, whether it was a child, as in the case of Hannah’s giving of Samuel, or an animal or field, he was not permitted to keep it.  He must either sell it, or redeem it by giving to God its equivalent worth in money.


27:29.  “None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.”


This is also translated, “No one devoted, who is to be utterly destroyed from among men, shall be ransomed; he shall be put to death,” Revised Standard Version; “No human life that is forfeit can be redeemed; death is the only way,” Knox; “No one sentenced by the courts to die may pay a fine instead; he shall surely be put to death,” Taylor.


27:30.  “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.”


The tithe was a tenth, and whether it was the produce of the land or the fruit of the trees, it was to be given to God in acknowledgement of Him as the Giver.


The same principle applies today: we should make the same acknowledgement by giving Him at least the tenth of all we possess, for He is the Giver of all.  See comment on verse 10.


27:31.  “And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.”


A man who wanted to buy back the tithe of grain or fruit could do so by giving in money its value as estimated by the priest, plus an additional fifth.


27:32.  “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.”


The New English Bible translates this, “Every tenth creature that passes under the counting rod shall be holy to the Lord; this applies to all tithes of cattle and sheep.”


27:33.  “He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”


The New English Bible translates this, “There shall be no inquiry whether it is good or bad, and no substitution.  If any substitution is made, then both the tithe-animal and its substitute shall be forfeit as holy: it shall not be redeemed.”


27:34.  “These are the commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.”


                            THE END

[Lord Willing, Exodus 1, next week.]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough