Why was everyone to give 1/2 shekel in Exodus?

Q. I have been meaning to ask about Exodus 30:15 for a long time but keep forgetting. Do you know why the rich were told to give no more than 1/2 a shekel but the poor were told to give no less than a shekel? It seems to me that it should be the other way around.

Exodus 30:11-16
11* The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,
12* “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. 13* “This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. 14* “Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD. 15* “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. 16* “You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.”

For the purposes of the census “each one” was to give a “ransom” for himself (verse 12). “Everyone who is numbered” (over the age of 20) was to give “half a shekel” (verses 13 &14). Both the rich AND the poor were to pay the same amount, “half a shekel” (verse 15).

It is reasonable to assume that this method would facilitate the numbering of Israel. If each individual gave the same amount then the priests could easily arrive at the correct number of persons over the age of 20 by counting the coins.

By requiring each to give the same amount God was demonstrating to Israel that each individual was the same in God’s eyes. Each soul has the same value. It did not matter what the earthly circumstances happened to be, each soul has the same value to God. The “ransom” price was set so low that even the poorest individuals could afford the price.

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