Verses of Exodus 30


Exodus 30:14 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)


Exo 30:14-16. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord: the rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement-money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.

IT is always profitable to mark the accomplishment of the divine promises, that, from discovering the faithfulness of God, we may learn to acknowledge his providence, and depend upon his care. He had promised to Abraham, that “his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude:” and, though their increase for about three hundred years was but small, yet, previous to their departure from Egypt, they were become exceeding numerous: and God appointed that they should be occasionally numbered, and a stated tax be levied on every individual, that so the fulfilment of his word might be made manifest. In this appointment there were some circumstances peculiarly instructive, especially the equality of the tax, and the application of it to the service of the sanctuary.
Let us notice,


The tax levied—

The tax being “a ransom, and an atonement for their souls,” had evidently a spiritual import; and from the same being levelled upon all, we observe,


That the souls of men are of equal value in the sight of God—

[The half-shekel was equal to about fifteen-pence of our money; and this was to be paid by every one that was numbered, without any regard to his station or ability: “The rich were not to pay more, nor the poor less.” Now as this was “a ransom and atonement for their souls,” it is manifest, that all their souls were of equal value in the sight of God. And who is there that does not feel this? There are many things in this world the value of which is purely imaginary, and depends upon the taste of the possessor: but the worth of the soul is real: the poorest of men has as deep an interest in the welfare of his own soul as the richest: heaven is as desirable, and hell as terrible, to the one as to the other: and God has an equal respect for both [Note: Job 34:19.]. Let not any one despise others, as though their eternal interests were not to be consulted; or imagine that they themselves are overlooked by God, as though he did not will their salvation as much as that of any other person in the universe [Note: 1Ti 2:4.].]


That all equally need reconciliation with God—

[A ransom and an atonement were required for all: and as all of them needed mercy at God’s hands, so do all of us. We are far from saying that all are equally sinful; for there doubtless are different degrees of guilt, and will be corresponding degrees of punishment: but this we say, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and consequently all are obnoxious to “that wrath of God, which is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” We know that many conceive so highly of themselves, as to imagine that God would be unjust if he should consign them over to destruction. But such persons have never considered what the law of God requires, or what it denounces against those who have violated its commands [Note: Gal 3:10.]. We willingly concede, that, in the eyes of men, some may be comparatively innocent: but, “before God, every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty.”]


That all must seek it on the same terms—

[Here again we remark, that no difference was put between one and another: all were to offer the half-shekel as an atonement for their souls. It is by an atonement too that we also must seek acceptance with God. None can merit forgiveness at his hands; none can do any thing towards meriting it: the atoning blood of Christ is that which alone can satisfy divine justice; and it is his obedience unto death which must constitute the justifying righteousness of all mankind [Note: Isa 45:24-25; Jer 23:6.]. Any thing of our own, blended with that, or added to it, will invalidate it altogether. Salvation must be wholly of works or of grace [Note: Rom 11:6.]: and if we cannot earn it by our works, (which no created being can,) then must we accept it altogether as “the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord [Note: Rom 6:23.].” It is evident that so small a sum as half a shekel could not purchase the divine favour: it was a mere acknowledgment that they needed an atonement, and were willing to accept the favour of God on any terms that he should propose: so, our humiliation and faith can purchase nothing; but only manifest our cordial acquiescence in the way of salvation provided for us.]

It will be yet further instructive to consider,


The use and application of the tax—

The tax was intended,


To obtain acceptance for the offerers—

[The very terms “ransom,” and “atonement,” clearly shew, that the offerers were considered as in a state of guilt and bondage: and they were warned, that, if they refused to pay “the atonement-money,” they would bring upon themselves the divine displeasure [Note: 2.]. It was certainly an aggravation of David’s sin in numbering the people, that, while he gratified his own pride and creature-confidence, he neglected to honour God by levying for him the appointed offering: and no less than seventy thousand of his subjects were destroyed in three days by a pestilence sent from God. This may give us some little idea of the vengeance that will overtake those who despise the atonement of Christ; and of the glorious deliverance which they shall obtain, who believe in him. The protection, the peace, the plenty, which his obedient people enjoyed in the wilderness, and their final possession of the promised land, represented the spiritual blessings which all “the ransomed of the Lord” shall eternally inherit.]


To convey instruction to the rising generation—

[The money, we are told, was to be “a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord.” We read of different memorials in the Scriptures. The censers in which Korah and his company offered incense were taken, out of the fire wherewith the offerers were consumed, and were made into plates for the covering of the altar, “to be a memorial, that none but the seed of Aaron come near to offer incense before the Lord [Note: Num 16:36-40.].” The jewels and bracelets of which the Israelites spoiled the slaughtered Midianites were presented to the Lord, “as a memorial unto the children of Israel,” that not one of their own army fell, though the whole Midianitish kingdom was utterly destroyed [Note: Num 31:48-54.]. Now such memorials were the half-shekels at the numbering of the people: they served to remind the whole nation of Israel, that, as sinners, they stood in need of an atonement, and that none who consecrated themselves to the service of their God should ever perish. Such memorials too are all who now seek for mercy through the atoning blood of Christ. They are as lights in a dark world: they unwittingly instruct all around them: as Noah by building the ark “condemned the world,” and tacitly admonished them of the impending judgments, so do they who flee to Christ for refuge, testify to all around them, that there is salvation in Him, and in him alone.]


To give honour unto God—

[It was by these offerings, that the various services of the tabernacle (by which above all things God was honoured) were maintained. And who are they that now honour God in the world? Who are they that truly and spiritually maintain his worship? We fear not to say, that God is more acceptably served by his penitent and believing people, than by all the world besides. The gift of his only-begotten Son to die for us is that which he himself most commends to our attention; nor can he be more glorified on earth, or even in heaven itself, than in acknowledgments of our obligations to him for this stupendous effort of his love.]


Amongst the Israelites there were several classes exempt from the payment of this tax: but none amongst us can plead any exemption from that which is required of us, the tribute of a broken and contrite spirit—


Not the Levites—

[These were not numbered for war, and therefore were not included in the tax [Note: Num 1:47.]. But the Levites amongst us should be the very first to devote themselves to God, and to render to him that tribute, which they demand from others — — —]


Not old people—

[These for the same reason were omitted both in the numbering and the taxation. But who have so much cause to bear in mind the atonement of Christ as they who are on the borders of eternity, and are so soon to stand at his judgment-seat? It is to be lamented, that people advanced in years too generally take for granted that all is well with them, though they have never sought “a ransom, or an atonement, for their souls.” But let the aged amongst us be diligent in working out their salvation, and “so much the more as they see the day approaching.”]


Not women—

[These were considered as included in the men; and therefore were not personally either taxed or numbered. But our offerings must be personal: nothing can be done by proxy: as there is “neither Jew nor Greek amongst us, so is there neither male nor female:” all must be judged by their own works, and all must be accepted through their own faith.]


Not children—

[Persons under twenty years of age were not deemed strong enough for war, and therefore were passed over. But who shall say at what age our responsibility to God begins? Who shall assign the limit at which God will “wink at,” or condemn, the transgressions of his law? Surely this were presumptuous and dangerous ground: let not any of you dare to stand upon it. If the services of a Samuel or a Timothy can be acceptable to God, the iniquities of childhood may be provoking. The tax required from you is not burthensome to any: seek not therefore, nor desire, an exemption from it. It is your heart, and not your property, that God requires: present it to him as purchased by the blood of his dear Son, and you shall be numbered amongst his people to all eternity.]

Verses of Exodus 30


Consult other comments:

Exodus 30:14 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Exodus 30:14 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 30:14 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Exodus 30:14 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 30:14 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 30:14 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Exodus 30:14 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 30:14 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)