Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money,
&c.] Or "for the firstborn", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, and so the Hebrew particle (tam) is sometimes used F21; for children of a month old or little more could not pay the money, but their parents for them, which was paid by them, and Moses received it for the superfluous number of two hundred seventy three; but it is a matter of doubt of whom this was exacted, and by whom paid, and who could be reckoned as this superfluous number, unless they were the last two hundred seventy three that were numbered: some have thought this was paid out of the public stock, which was a ready way of doing it, but whether reasonable is not so manifest, since these firstborn were the properties of particular persons; the more commonly received method of doing it with the Jewish writers was, according to Jarchi and Abarbinel, and so in the Talmud F23 by lot; the former of which describes the manner of doing it thus, 22,000 pieces (of paper or parchment) were brought, and on them written, "a son of Levi", or "a Levite", and two hundred seventy three other pieces, and on them were written, "five shekels"; these were mixed together and put into an urn or box, and then they were bid to come and take out the pieces, and according as the lot was, they were allowed as redeemed by the Levites, or paid the redemption money: and as this was a method much in use with the Hebrews, it is not improbable:
a thousand three hundred and threescore and five [shekels], after the
shekel of the sanctuary;
1,365 shekels, which is exactly the number of shekels that two hundred seventy three should pay, reckoning five shekels per head; which Jarchi counts thus, for two hundred firstborn, a thousand shekels; for seventy firstborn, three hundred fifty; and for three firstborn fifteen, shekels, which in all amounted to about an hundred seventy pounds of our money.
F21 Vid. Nold. Partic. Ebr. Concord. p. 579.
F23 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 17. 1.