30:13 Everyone who crosses over to those who are numbered 1 is to pay this: a half shekel 2 according to the shekel of the sanctuary 3 (a shekel weighs twenty gerahs). The half shekel is to be an offering 4 to the Lord. 30:14 Everyone who crosses over to those numbered, from twenty years old and up, is to pay an offering to the Lord. 30:15 The rich are not to increase it, 5 and the poor are not to pay less than the half shekel when giving 6 the offering of the Lord, to make atonement 7 for your lives. 30:16 You are to receive the atonement money 8 from the Israelites and give it for the service 9 of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial 10 for the Israelites before the Lord, to make atonement 11 for your lives.”
1 sn Each man was to pass in front of the counting officer and join those already counted on the other side.
2 sn The half shekel weight of silver would be about one-fifth of an ounce (6 grams).
3 sn It appears that some standard is in view for the amount of a shekel weight. The sanctuary shekel is sometimes considered to be twice the value of the ordinary shekel. The “gerah,” also of uncertain meaning, was mentioned as a reference point for the ancient reader to understand the value of the required payment. It may also be that the expression meant “a sacred shekel” and looked at the purpose more – a shekel for sanctuary dues. This would mean that the standard of the shekel weight was set because it was the traditional amount of sacred dues (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 333). “Though there is no certainty, the shekel is said to weigh about 11,5 grams…Whether an official standard is meant [by ‘sanctuary shekel’] or whether the sanctuary shekel had a different weight than the ‘ordinary’ shekel is not known” (C. Houtman, Exodus, 3:181).
4 tn Or “contribution” (תְּרוּמָה, tÿrumah).
5 tn Or “pay more.”
6 tn The form is לָתֵת (latet), the Qal infinitive construct with the lamed preposition. The infinitive here is explaining the preceding verbs. They are not to increase or diminish the amount “in paying the offering.” The construction approximates a temporal clause.
7 tn This infinitive construct (לְכַפֵּר, lÿkhapper) provides the purpose of the giving the offering – to atone.
8 tn Heb “the silver of the atonements.” The genitive here is the result (as in “sheep of slaughter”) telling what the money will be used for (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 11, §44).
9 sn The idea of “service” is maintenance and care of the sanctuary and its service, meaning the morning and evening sacrifices and the other elements to be used.
10 sn S. R. Driver says this is “to keep Jehovah in continual remembrance of the ransom which had been paid for their lives” (Exodus, 334).
11 tn The infinitive could be taken in a couple of ways here. It could be an epexegetical infinitive: “making atonement.” Or it could be the infinitive expressing result: “so that atonement will be made for your lives.”