Acts 4:37

37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Acts 4:37 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 4:37

Having land, sold it
Whether this was in Cyprus, or in Judea, is not certain; nor how he came by it, whether he had bought it, as the priests and Levites might, and as Jeremiah, who was of the priests, bought a field at Anathoth, ( Jeremiah 32:9 ) or, whether it was his wife's dowry; for the Levites had nothing by inheritance: they had forty two cities, and the six cities of refuge to dwell in, and the field of the suburbs of these cities; which field or land was never to be sold, but to be a perpetual possession, ( Leviticus 25:34 ) but now the ceremonial law was abolished, and this precept was not attended to, if the land was of this sort. Moreover, the Jewish doctors interpret the above law otherwise; and understand it only of changing, and not of selling, which they allow of; one of their canons runs thus F25,

``the priests and Levites, (Myrkwm) , "sell" always, and redeem always, as it is said, ( Leviticus 25:32 ) , "the Levites may redeem at any time".''

Upon which canon, one of their commentators F26 says,

``they sell always; and not as an Israelite, who cannot sell less than two years before the jubilee;--but these "sell" even near the jubilee; "and they redeem always": if they sell houses in walled towns, they are not confirmed at the end of the year, as the houses in the walled towns of Israelites; and if "they sell fields", it is not necessary that they should remain in the hands of the buyer two years, but they may redeem them immediately, if they will.''

And another of them F1 has this observation,

``all agree that the Levites may not change a city, or suburb, or field, which are theirs, because it is said, ( Leviticus 25:34 ) "but the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold"; and the wise men of blessed memory say, the meaning of it is, it shall not be changed, for they do not change anything from what it was before.''

And agreeably to this is what Maimonides F2 elsewhere says,

``they do not make in the cities of the Levites a city a suburb, or a suburb a city, or a suburb a field, or a field a suburb, as it is said, ( Leviticus 25:34 ) "but the field of the suburbs of their cities shall not be sold"; from report (or tradition) we learn, that that is said, "shall not be sold", means, shall not be changed; but the field, suburbs, and city, everyone of these three shall be as they are for ever. Priests and Levites who "sell" a field, of the fields of their cities, or an house of any of the houses of their walled towns, do not redeem according to this order (i.e. as the other Israelites), but "they sell fields"; and even near to the jubilee, and redeem them immediately.''

So that if this land of Barnabas lay in Judea, as is most likely, it might be sold, and much more, if in Cyprus. But, be it what and where it will, he sold it:

and brought the money;
from Cyprus or Judea, or that part of the land of Canaan where it lay, and where he had sold it:

and laid it at the apostles' feet;
perhaps he might be the first person that did so, and set an example which was universally followed; however, he is particularly mentioned, being a man of note among the apostles, and of great usefulness in after times, and of whom frequent mention is made in other places.


F25 Misn. Eracin, c. 9. sect. 8.
F26 Bartenora in Misn. Eracin.
F1 Mainton. in ib.
F2 Hilchot Shemitta Veyobel, c. 13. sect. 4, 5, 7.

Acts 4:37 In-Context

35 and laid them at the apostles' feet. This was then distributed to each person as anyone had a need.
36 Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, whom the apostles named Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement,
37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
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