“When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.”
King James Version (KJV)
30:12 Some think this refers only to the first numbering of them, when the tabernacle was set up, and that this tax was to make up what was wanting in the voluntary contributions. Others think it was to be always when the people were numbered; and that David offended in not demanding it when he numbered the people. But many of the Jewish writers are of opinion, it was to be an annual tribute; only it was begun when Moses first numbered the people. This was that tribute - money which Christ paid lest he should offend his adversaries. The tribute to be paid was half a shekel, about fifteen - pence of our money. In other offerings men were to give according to their ability, but this, which was the ransom of the soul, must be alike for all; for the rich have as much need of Christ as the poor, and the poor are as welcome to him as the rich. And this was to be paid as a ransom of the soul, that there might be no plague among them - Hereby they acknowledged that they received their lives from God, that they had forfeited their lives to him, and that they depended upon his power and patience for the continuance of them; and thus they did homage to the God of their lives, and deprecated those plagues which their sins had deserved. This money was employed in the service of the tabernacle; with it they bought sacrifices, flour, incense wine, oil, fuel, salt, priests garments, and all other things which the whole congregation was interested in.