When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, after
An account of them, how many they are; which was sometimes done, and was proper to be done, especially in time of war; though the present case seems to be for the sake of raising money for the tabernacle and the service of it:
then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord,
when thou numberest them;
which was not done yearly, nor was it perpetual; we have but two instances of it after this until the times of David, ( Numbers 1:2 ) ( 26:2 ) yet it seems to have been a yearly tax or tribute, in the times of Christ, (See Gill on Matthew 17:24) (See Gill on Matthew 21:12); and in the Misnah is a whole treatise called "Shekalim", in which an account is given of the time and manner of collecting this ransom money, and for what uses, and who were obliged to pay it, and who not; on the first of Adar (or February) they proclaimed concerning the payment of it, on the fifteenth the tables were set for that purpose, and on the twenty fifth the proper persons sat in the sanctuary to receive it F23: this was typical of the ransom of souls by Christ, who are not all the world, for they are ransomed out of it, but Israelites, the whole mystical Israel of God, and are a numbered people; their names are written in the book of life, they are told into the hands of Christ, are exactly known by God and Christ; and these are many and even numberless to men:
that there be no plague amongst them when thou numberest them;
as there was when David numbered them; which some have thought was owing to the non-payment of the ransom money after mentioned; the Septuagint version is, "no fall", the ransom of souls by Christ preserves them from a total and final fall by sin into everlasting ruin and destruction; or, "no death" as the Targum of Onkelos, for redemption by Christ secures from the second death, and even from a corporeal death as a penal evil.
F23 Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1, 3.