(Verse 1) Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
Here the LORD repeats one of His ten original commandments to Israel. See Exodus 20:1-6. Again He gives, as the reason for His people to keep this commandment, “For I am the LORD your God.” And this seems to be reason enough for our obedience also.
(Verses 2 through 13) Ye shall keep My sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD. If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then will I give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish My covenant with you. And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. And I will set My tabernacle among you: and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people. I am the LORD your God, Which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
Here the LORD reaffirms His covenant to Israel. (See Exodus 19:5-6.) He declares that if they will fulfill what that covenant calls upon them to do, He will bless them as no other people on earth have ever been blessed. He closes this out with this promise: “And I will set My tabernacle among you: and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people.” It is amazing just how many people one will find that think “tabernacle” always means a tent, or, at best, a very temporary building.” Yet even the temple that Solomon built is sometimes referred to as the tabernacle. In Revelation 21:3, we find, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Although many seem to think this is in reference to the church of our Lord while it is in the present world, any serious study of the book of Revelation should dispel this idea. In fact it is after all the great judgments of our Lord upon this world have been executed. But then the tabernacle of God will be with men. There will be nothing temporary about it. One of its meanings, as given by the dictionary, is “a place of worship.” And this is its meaning in the present text. God promises that if the Israelites will fulfill their side of the covenant He has made with them , He will provide among them a place for them to worship Him. And He will not hate them, but will walk among them, in addition to all the material blessings He will give them. Then He points out to them that it is He Who has brought them forth from the land of Egypt that they should be His servants. He has broken the yoke of their servitude to man off from their necks, and set them free that they might walk upright, and not in the stooped position of bondservants.
(Verses 14 through 20) But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that ye will not do all My commandments, but that ye break My covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of the heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall rule over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: and your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
In the previous text the LORD told the children of Israel what wonderful blessings He would shower upon them if they would only keep their part of the covenant between Him and them. Now He begins to tell them what will be their punishment if they fail to do their part thereof. He will, by stages take away from them all the blessings He has previously mentioned, as they fall short of their vow concerning the covenant. We must remember that this covenant is what we refer to as the old covenant. It is the one the LORD made with Israel in Exodus 19:5-6. It was based upon “if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant.” And all the children of Israel vowed that they would do that. Now He tells them that if they do not fulfill their vow, He will appoint over them “terror, consumption, and the burning ague,” all of which will cause them sorrow of their hearts. He will suffer their enemies to eat up whatever harvest there might be from their planting. He will also cause them to be slain before their enemies, and let their enemies rule over them. Then if this will not bring them to repentance He will punish them “seven times more“ for their sins. Even the face of nature will be turned against them, so that they will get no rain, and the earth will not bring forth for them, so their strength shall be spent in vain. All their work will be for naught. Perhaps the phrase, “seven times more,” is used, not as an absolute number so much as to mean that He will punish them to the full for their sins, since seven so often denotes the full of anything instead of only the number seven.
(Verses 21 through 26) And if ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. And I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate. And if ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto Me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of My covenant; and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
Here are two more steps the LORD will use in punishing Israel if they will not pay heed to the punishments He will send upon them, but continue on in their rebellious ways. It is all clearly enough stated that none should misunderstand. As a result of this punishment, Israel shall be so deprived of food that there will not be enough bread to require more than ten women to bake it for the whole nation: and then it will not be enough for them to be satisfied with food. This is indeed a bad state of affairs: but there is more to come.
(Verses 27 through 33) And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast out your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and My soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
Notice that in this segment of His address to the children of Israel He tells them that if they persist in their disobedience after all the other chastisements have not turned them away from their rebellious ways, He will deal with them in fury. His wrath will indeed be aroused; and He will even cause them to be reduced to cannibalism, which, according to history, He brought upon them more than once. He declared that He would destroy all their “high places,” the places where they built altars to idols and worshipped them. He would make their cities completely desolate, would bring their enemies upon them, and scatter them among the heathen. The latest and greatest instance of this was in 70 AD. And they have not yet been gathered back, except in part. However the LORD has promised to restore Israel, and that He will do, in His time, not ours.
(Verses 34 through 39) Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing before a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth; and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
This seems to be the ultimate desolation of Israel as was brought about when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. And, as mentioned before, it has not been completely restored yet, although that was almost two thousand years ago. It does appear that there is some sign that it may not be very long before that restoration. But we cannot read the LORD’S timetable. That is why He told us to watch; for He will surely bring it to pass at His appointed time.
(Verses 40 through 42) If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and that also they have walked contrary unto Me; and that I have also walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
Here the LORD promises that, even after He has brought Israel to complete desolation because of their iniquities, if they shall confess their sins and the sins of their fathers, and “accept of the punishment of their iniquity,” That is, if they acknowledge that they have sinned, and that this punishment is far less than they deserved, He will remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a covenant far older than that He made with Israel, as recorded in Exodus 20:5-6, and also one based upon the promise of God, and not on “if ye will obey.” Rather it was based upon, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered,” (Genesis 12:14-16) and, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” (Genesis 15:18,) as well as in several other declarations of the LORD. Not only will the LORD remember His covenant with the fathers, but He will also remember the land itself.
(Verse 43) The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised My judgments, and because their soul abhorred My statutes.
Again the LORD tells Israel what will be the reason for the punishments that He will send upon them, when they turn away from His commandments.
(Verses 44 through 46) And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between Him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
In verses 44 and 45 the LORD declares that in spite of all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and the punishments He will send upon them for such, He will not cast them away, and neither will He ever break the covenant He made with their fathers, that is, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And that promise is not based upon any conditions the children of Israel may, or may not fulfill: it is simply upon the fact that He is the LORD. And “these are the statutes, judgments, and laws, which the LORD made between Him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
(Verses 1 through 8) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation. And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even to sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels. 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. 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. 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. 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.
If a person is going to make a special (“singular”) vow unto the LORD, he must bring an offering unto the LORD for that vow. Obviously, when this vow is concerning one too young to personally make such a vow, the responsibility falls on the parents of the child. The LORD here tells Moses what value this offering must have to be acceptable. One will notice that its value is to be regulated by the age of the one for whom the vow is made; and that evaluation varies according to the age and sex of the individual. Then, if the one making such a vow is too poor to give the offering required, he shall present himself before the priest, who shall consider his circumstances, and set the value according to what he is able to pay.
(Verses 9 and 10) 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. 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.
If one making such a vow as has been discussed, bring a sacrificial animal instead of the money as he has been valued, it is holy; and the only way in which he can make any alteration in what he offers is that both that which he brought first, and the exchange of it shall be holy, even if the exchange is made because the first animal has been considered unfit for sacrifice.
(Verses 11 through 13) 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: and the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be. But if he will redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part unto thy estimation.
Unclean animals were not to be sacrificed to the LORD. But, apparently, one might be brought before the priest, for the priest to evaluate it. Then the owner could redeem it by adding one fifth to the price the priest had placed upon it.
(Verses 14 and 15) 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. 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.
A man might decide to sanctify his house, that is, declare it holy unto the LORD. If so, he could come to the priest, and have him go and appraise the house. At whatever price he appraised it, that would be the price of it. Then, if for some reason the man who owned the house wanted to redeem it, he would have to add one fifth of the appraised value to the house, and he could redeem it.
(Verses 16 through 21) 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. If he sanctify his field from the Year of Jubilee, according to thy estimation it shall stand. 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 Jubilee, and it shall be abated from thy estimation. 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. 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. 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.
This gives the circumstances and procedure of devoting a field unto the LORD, and also when it can be redeemed, and when it cannot. If the owner thereof does not redeem it at the time specified, or if he has sold it to someone else, it can never be redeemed, but when, in the Year of Jubilee, when properties that have been sold under ordinary circumstances revert to the one who had sold it, such a field shall become the possession of the priest.
(Verses 22 through 25) And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession; 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. 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 his land did belong. And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
Earlier we were told concerning a field that a man had sanctified, and then sold to another. Now we are given the law concerning a field that one has bought, and has sanctified it to the LORD. In the Year of Jubilee, this field shall return to the original estate from which it was bought. Also the LORD commands Moses that all appraisals shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is to be established at twenty gerahs to the shekel,
(Verses 26 through 29) 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. And if it be 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. 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 redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
This should answer any question one might have concerning animals that a man might devote to the LORD. In the first place, the LORD had already declared that that the firstborn of both man and beast is His. As such, a man cannot devote (sanctify) any of them. The firstborn of man are always to be redeemed; the firstborn of “clean” beasts are to be sacrificed to the LORD; and the firstborn of “unclean” beasts shall be redeemed, or shall have their necks broken, as the LORD had previously told Moses. So none of these can be included in what a man might sanctify as holy unto the LORD. Then concerning those animals that are devoted by man unto God, they must either be redeemed, or killed. But they cannot be offered as sacrifice unto Him.
(Verses 30 through 33) 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. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. 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. 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.
Thus He gives Moses the law concerning the tithes of both the produce of the fields, and of the livestock. These seem to be clear enough to need no explanation. For the purpose of counting the flocks and herds, the usual practice was to set up a horizontal rod over a place through which the animals would pass single file. The count was made of each as it passed under the rod. The LORD declares that as this is done, every tenth animal that passed under the rod was His. Although for an offering to the LORD, only an animal without any kind of blemish could be offered. But for the tithe, they were to be taken “as they came” under the rod. And if anyone wanted to make any change, both the original animal, and the change were His. No redemption was permitted.
Then Moses closed out this book thus: “These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.”