Scriptures

Leviticus 27

Introduction

‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the LORD by giving the equivalent value, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; for a female, set her value at thirty shekels; for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver; for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, the person being dedicated is to be presented to the priest, who will set the value according to what the one making the vow can afford. ‘If what they vowed is an animal that is acceptable as an offering to the LORD, such an animal given to the LORD becomes holy. They must not exchange it or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if they should substitute one animal for another, both it and the substitute become holy. If what they vowed is a ceremonially unclean animal—one that is not acceptable as an offering to the LORD—the animal must be presented to the priest, who will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, that is what it will be. If the owner wishes to redeem the animal, a fifth must be added to its value. ‘If anyone dedicates their house as something holy to the LORD, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain. If the one who dedicates their house wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the house will again become theirs.’ Leviticus 27:1-15

Vows And Tithes

Unlike today where people don’t take vows seriously, God has always been serious when it comes to making any vow, especially any vow which was made to Him.

Here we find God describing a vow which was made outside of the law, a vow in relation to making an offering to the Lord, 1 Samuel 1:11 / Judges 11:30-31. These vows were not forced on people they were to be taken voluntarily Deuteronomy 23:21-23. Because the vow was made to God, this made the vow binding.

Notice how God speaks of the value of the offering, the value was gauged by the age and sex of the offering and the value was gauged in reference to the Year of Jubilee, Leviticus 25:8-22. Once again, we see God caring for the poor in society, if a person was poor then the priest would give the valuation of the offering.

We see that if someone vowed to give an animal for an offering, they couldn’t change their mind and offer money instead, an animal must be given. Making a vow offering of an animal meant that the animal had become holy.

If the animal that was given in a vow was unclean, then the priest could value it and sell it. If the owner wanted to redeem the animal, then they could, for the price of the valuation, plus one fifth the value of the animal. The same rule applied to houses that were offered to the Lord.

Vows

The Nazarite vow can be found in Numbers 6:1-21, this basically meant they had to dedicate themselves to the Lord. That person had to abstain from all products of the grape vine, no razor was to pass over their head. They weren’t allowed to go near a dead person, but if someone suddenly died in their presence, they were to shave their head on the day they became unclean on the seventh day.

On the eighth day they were was to offer two turtle doves or two young pigeons as a sin offering and a burnt offering at the doorway of the tabernacle. They were to offer a year-old male lamb as a guilt offering, they could then dedicate themselves to the Lord once more as a Nazarite.

What they had to do at the completion of their vow was for a burnt offering they were to sacrifice at the door of the tabernacle one-year old male lamb. For a sin offering they were to offer a one-year old ewe lamb, for a peace offering they were to sacrifice one ram.

They were to also offer a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil along with a meal and drink offering. Then they were then was to shave their hair off and burn it in the fire of the peace offering. The priest was to take their portion and the person who had the vow couldn’t drink of wine.

The vow of the women can be found in Numbers 30:1-16. If a man made a vow unto the Lord, he was obligated to fulfil it. However, if a daughter makes vow and her father hears it and says nothing concerning it, then the vow stands and is to be fulfilled. If she makes a vow and her father hears it and he forbids it, then she is not under obligation to fulfil it.

If a married woman makes a vow and her husband hears it and says nothing concerning it, then the vow stands and is to be fulfilled. If she makes a vow and her husband hears it and he forbids it, then she is not under obligation to fulfil it.

If a widow or divorced woman makes a vow, their vows would be binding upon them to fulfil. If they make a vow in their husband’s house and their husband hears it and says nothing concerning it, then the vow stands and is to be fulfilled. If they make a vow in her husband’s house and their husband hears it and he forbids it, then they are not under obligation to fulfil it.

As we have just read a person could redeem a vow, for a person, fifty shekels of silver for a 20 to 60 year old male, Leviticus 27:3. Thirty shekels of silver for a 20 to 60 year old female, Leviticus 27:4. Twenty shekels of silver for a 5 to 20 year old male, Leviticus 27:5. Ten shekels of silver for a 5-20 year old male, Leviticus 27:5.

Five shekels for a one month to 5 year male, Leviticus 27:6. Three shekels for a one month to 5 year female, Leviticus 27:6. Fifteen shekels for a male over 60 years old, Leviticus 27:7. Ten shekels for a female over 60 years old, if the person is poor then the priest can make an estimate that would be within the person’s ability to pay, Leviticus 27:8.

‘If anyone dedicates to the LORD part of their family land, its value is to be set according to the amount of seed required for it—fifty shekels of silver to a homer of barley seed. If they dedicate a field during the Year of Jubilee, the value that has been set remains. But if they dedicate a field after the Jubilee, the priest will determine the value according to the number of years that remain until the next Year of Jubilee, and its set value will be reduced. If the one who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the field will again become theirs. If, however, they do not redeem the field, or if they have sold it to someone else, it can never be redeemed. When the field is released in the Jubilee, it will become holy, like a field devoted to the LORD; it will become priestly property. ‘If anyone dedicates to the LORD a field they have bought, which is not part of their family land, the priest will determine its value up to the Year of Jubilee, and the owner must pay its value on that day as something holy to the LORD. In the Year of Jubilee, the field will revert to the person from whom it was bought, the one whose land it was. Every value is to be set according to the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel.’ Leviticus 27:16-25

Land was very precious to Israel and so, anyone who owned a piece of land could offer it to the Lord, this all depended upon whether a person inherited the land or bought the land in the first place. The value of the land was based upon how much seed was necessary to sow the land.

Remember the value of the land was given before the Year of Jubilee, and any land which was inherited could be bought back for the value of the land, plus one fifth of the value. If the land was not bought back, then it became the permanent property of the priests.

If anyone dedicated any property that they had bought, then after the valuation, this land could go back to the original owner in the Jubilee, but only if the valuation was paid to the priests for the land. Leviticus 25:23-34.

‘No one, however, may dedicate the firstborn of an animal, since the firstborn already belongs to the LORD; whether an ox or a sheep, it is the LORD’s. If it is one of the unclean animals, it may be bought back at its set value, adding a fifth of the value to it. If it is not redeemed, it is to be sold at its set value. ‘But nothing that a person owns and devotes to the LORD—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the LORD. ‘No person devoted to destruction may be ransomed; they are to be put to death. ‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD. No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’ These are the commands the LORD gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.’ Leviticus 27:26-34

The firstborn of the animals weren’t permitted to be given to the Lord, because they already belonged to God, Exodus 13:2 / Exodus 34:19. However, if the firstborn animal was unclean, this could be valued and redeemed for the valuation price plus one fifth of the value. If it wasn’t brought back then it had to be sold, the reason for this is because the priests weren’t permitted to own any unclean animals.

Notice if anything was devoted to God, it wasn’t to be sold, this is because it was totally given to God and couldn’t be redeemed. In this case whatever it was which was devoted to God was to be totally destroyed, the reason for was to prevent anyone using it for themselves.

A tithe of the land, the herd, or the flock could be redeemed if the valuation, plus one fifth, was paid. The reference to ‘every tenth passing under the shepherd’s rod’ simply means that this is what the shepherds done, he gave a tithe whenever an animal was received by him.

Notice also, that the shepherd couldn’t be selective when choosing the animal, he couldn’t just pick out the good ones whilst ignoring the bad ones.

Something important we need to note about giving, it was a sacrifice and it was personal. If I lived in a posh house and offered that house to the Lord, I shouldn’t expect to live in it any longer or enjoy the benefits from owning that house anymore.

In the same manner, the Israelites couldn’t give the Lord a field and expect to continue to use it for their own gain.

Conclusion

Leviticus teaches God’s people how they are to approach Him and live pleasing in His sight. It’s central command is to ‘be holy’, Leviticus 19:2. We cannot approach God in any way we like, we must approach Him in His terms and under His conditions.

This has been the message of Leviticus, God is going to dwell with Israel, He will be their God and they will be His people. This covenant relationship continues even today, it is a relationship which is found in the church. We have entered into the promise, which was initially given to Israel, 2 Corinthians 6:16.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Genesis 1:26

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