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The Census and Its Religious Aspect
I. This first census of which we have any recorded history took place more than three thousand years ago. It was taken in the wilderness, and in a very different way from that in which our census is taken.
From the grouped tribes every man of twenty years of age and upwards was called out, and afterwards passed over to the crowd of the 'numbered'. No women or children were numbered. Women and children owe even more than men to the influence of Jesus Christ. Then each man had to pay a half-shekel, about thirteenpence-halfpenny, at the express command of God, to be devoted to religious purposes. The census was the solemn recognition of the separate individuality, the responsible manhood of every full-grown Israelite.
II. The payment of the half-shekel was an acknowledgment of his obligation to sue for the mercy of Heaven and to do the will of God. When you fill up your census-paper remember that you are a sinful being before you are anything else. Do you not realize the necessity of paying the half-shekel, of ransoming your soul? The census expresses the solidarity of our interests. All humanity is one great organism, one colossal man, as Pascal says, of whom Christ is the Head. No one can say that he is so insignificant that it does not matter whether he goes to the devil or not. Nobody will be left out because of his poverty or crime.
Hugh Price Hughes, The Sermon Year Book, 1891, p. 362.
Reference. XXX. 12. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Exodus, etc., p. 168.
The tribute to be paid for the ransom of the soul was half a shekel, about fifteenpence of our money. The rich were not to give more nor the poor less; to intimate that the souls of the rich and poor were alike precious.
Reference. XXX. 15. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Exodus, etc., p. 170.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Exodus 30". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany