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framed to qualify the Jewish nation to perform its religious office, by means of securing its temporal prosperity, and its social union and strength.* If it obeyed the Law, so wisely devised for its good, it would attain to wealth and power; it would be prepared to defy its enemies, and maintain its independence; the land would be fruitful, the population would be numerous and safe.t If it disregarded this divinely prepared instrument of its growth and greatness, national poverty and imbecility, desolation, disunion, famine, subjugation, captivity, and all the miseries which were wont to fall on conquered nations in those barbarous ages, would be its bitter, but well-merited lot. I find no intimation throughout the chapter, of a miraculous superintendence, to be continued after the national independence and the national institutions had been miraculously established.Ş For aught that I can perceive, the nation then was to be left to its own guidance, and its own responsibility. was through the people's experience of the natural consequences of obedience or disobedience to a law supernaturally adapted to their condition and wants, that God designed to reward or punish its observance or infraction.
The rules relating to consecrations of things and
* See above, pp. 169, 170.
7 Lev. xxvi. 7, 8; 4, 5, 10; 9; 6. | xxvi. 19, 20, 16, 36; 22, 31 - 35; 37; 26, 29; 17, 25; 33.
§ If verse 4 be thought an exception to this remark, I submit that its meaning would be well expressed thus; “Then, when I have given you rain in due season, the land,” &c. Such is a not unusual Scripture phraseology. Compare Matt. xi. 25, where, though our version is literally correct, no one doubts that the meaning is, “I thank thee, because when thou hast hid,” &c.— The language in verses 16, 26, is as plainly figurative as that in 8, 19. — The sense of verses 40 – 44 is, that wherever the lately offending but now contrite Israelite should be, God would look on him with favor. In this, there is nothing indicated of a permanent miraculous administration. But I should prefer to begin a verse with the last clause of verse 42, which I think is connected in sense with the following ; “I will remember the land, and the land shall be left,” &c.
persons, and the conditions, on which, in certain cases, vows of consecration might be remitted, are introduced, at the beginning of the twenty-seventh chapter, in a way, which shows that it was not the purpose of the Law to enforce the practice, but merely to place a natural impulse of devotion under useful regulations.* If an Israelite, under such an impulse, should bind himself or his child by a vow, to be a servant of the sanctuary, he might commute that service by paying a specified pecuniary equivalent, varying with sex and age, into the sacred treasury; and, if he were too poor to pay the prescribed sum, it was in the discretion of the priest to fix on some other, proportioned to his means.f If the vow related to the gift of an animal, it must, by all means, be offered in sacrifice, if suitable to be so offered; and whoever was detected in attempting to substitute for it one of inferior worth, was punished by the forfeiture of both. If it were an unclean animal that had been consecrated, the owner might still retain it, if, on reflection, such was his wish, on the payment of one fifth more than the priest declared to be its value. I On the same condition, a house or a farm, consecrated as a religious offering, might be redeemed. The estimation of the value of an estate so consecrated was to have reference to the length of the interval between the time of the consecration and a Jubilee year, at which time it reverted to its owner; and this provision held
* “When a man shall make a singular vow," (2) i. e. shall wish to signalize himself by a voluntary act of piety. – On the expression “thy estimation,” in the same verse, the commentators have disputed, whose estimation was intended; whether the estimation of the priest, the ruler, or the worshipper, to be made from time to time. Clearly, I think, it was neither. A permanent estimation was determined by law (3-7). It is the people that is addressed (2), and “ thy estimation” means the estimation for thee, for thy government. — We have seen forms of will-worship referred to in Lev. vii. 16; xxii. 23; xxiii. 38. 7 xxvii. 2-8.
| xxvii. 9-13.
equally good, if the estate consecrated was one of which the devotee was only a tenant.* Firstlings of whatever description were no subjects for voluntary vows, inasmuch as they were already consecrated by a standing law; but, if the firstling was of an unclean animal, it might be redeemed at the same rate of commutation as was prescribed in the cases just now named. There was one form of consecration, called by a peculiar name, sometimes rendered in our version, “devoting," and sometimes “cursing,” which was of such solemnity, that to prevent its frequent use, it was declared to admit of no remission. I
The twentieth and twenty-first verses of this chapter are obscure, and I have seen no good account of them. It has been proposed to understand, that, though other estates reverted unconditionally to their owners at the Jubilee, those consecrated could only be recovered at any time by the payment of a ransom. But this, I think, is certainly inconsistent with other provisions. I suggest, that we have here a supplement to the laws respecting the Jubilee, (designed to prevent its fraudulent evasion,) to the following effect; If a man not only will not redeem his estate himself, but has conveyed it to another person, to the intent of alienating it permanently, he shall not be allowed to compass that unlawful design, but at the Jubilee it shall be forfeited to the sacred treasury.
* Lev. xxvii. 14-19, 22-25.
# xxvii. 26, 27. Compare Ex. xiii. 11-13; xxxiv. 19, 20. The present rule of redemption is a modification of that previously promulgated, which compelled the owner to lose a firstling unclean animal, unless he redeemed it in kind with a clean one.
| Lev. xxvii. 28, 29. In these verses, we find the case supposed of a man being made a on, and so doomed to death. It has been strangely imagined that this might be done by private will. The simple account of the fact I take to be, that the connexion, treating as it does of a form of devoting which admitted no restoration, suggested the analogy of a man devoted to death by public authority, whose punishment might not be remitted. Concerning such criminals, the word on is actually used. Compare Deut. xiii. 15, 17; Josh. vi. 17. The connexion is natural. Some things consecrated may be redeemed. Lev. xxvii. 13, &c. Others are oon, and may not be, xxvii. 21, 28. Some criminals too may ransom their lives. E. g. Ex. xxi. 30. Others, more guilty, so as to be on, may not. E. g. Numbers xxxv. 31.
Ś See Lev. xxvii. 16 - 19.
The priests, it is true, could not hold it, but they would sell it to some other proprietor, selecting no doubt some one of the same tribe, and having reference to the rights of the nearest kinsman.*
The institution of Tithes, which relates to one of the subjects of the next Lecture, is naturally introduced in this place, because, except in the case of sacrificial animals, it was to admit of commutations similar to those upon which we have been remarking.
* See Lev. xxv. 25 et seq. – Another way of understanding this difficult passage, would be to view it as declaring the forfeiture, at the Jubilee, of landed property, which an Israelite had so far disregarded the spirit of the national institutions, as even to lease to a foreigner, “another man.” Compare xxv. 30.– From a comparison of xxvi. 46, with xxvii. 34, it seems natural to infer that Moses, when he wrote the former text, supposed that this series of revelations was there to close.
NUMBERS I. 1.- X. 10.
CENSUS OF THE PEOPLE. - EXPLANATION OF ITS CORRESPONDENCE
WITH THE ENUMERATION IN Exodus. ARRANGEMENT OF THE TRIBES IN THE CAMP. — CensuS OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI. - ARRANGEMENT OF ITS DUTIES AT THE TABERNACLE. Its Position IN THE CAMP. — CONTRIBUTION OF THE SUPERNUMERARY FIRSTBORN. — Duties OF THE LEVITES IN LATER TIMES. – Their REVENUES. PROPRIETY OF THE SELECTION OF THE LEAST NUMEROUS TRIBE FOR SACRED OFFICES. EXTENSION AND MODIFICATION OF SOME PREVIOUS LAWS. - ORDEAL OF THE “Law of JEALOUSIES.” — RULES RESPECTING THE Vow of NAZARITESHIP.
- BENEDICTION PRESCRIBED FOR THE High PRIEST's Use. - DoNATIONS OF THE PRINCES OF THE TRIBES. — ARRANGEMENT OF THE LIGHT IN THE HOLY PLACE. CONSECRATION OF THE LEVITES, AND New RULE FOR THEIR TIME OF SERVICE. New DIRECTION RELATING TO
Provision OF THE SILVER TRUMPETS.
The national worship having been instituted, and a full code of ritual and civil laws promulgated, the next step was to take a census of the people; which was done according to tribes, and by means of the smaller family divisions of the tribes respectively.
This census was made, or at least was begun, under the superintendence of one chief man from each tribe, on the first day of the second month of the year, the month Jiar. It included all males, except of the tribe of Levi, “from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel.” + To keep good the number of twelve, along with the omission of the tribe of Levi, the descendants of Ephraim and Ma
* Numb. i. 2, 4.
t i. 45, 47-51.