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Leviticus - Chapter 27

Bible Study Notes

Leviticus 27:1-8 All vows that deal with valuing a person should be 50 shekels of silver for a male from age 20 to age 60, age 5 to 20 should be 20 shekels, 1 month to age 5 should be 5 shekels, age 60 and up should be 15 shekels.

For a female, 30 shekels, age 5 to 20 should be 10 shekels, age 1 month to age 5 should be 3 shekels, age 60 and up should be 10 shekels.

If the person is too poor to offer anything, then they shall stand before the Priest and the Priest shall decide what they can afford.

Notes: This sets the gift apart from the rest of his household and possessions as a gift to the Lord and his service. In Israel, a man may make a vow to the Lord dedicating himself or a member of his family. This pledge entails service in the sanctuary. However, because non-Levites cannot serve on the temple grounds, a person may be freed from this service by making a payment to the sanctuary. These verses establish the payment scale, perhaps determined by the customary prices for slaves.

Leviticus 27:9-13 If an animal is offered as a vow, all of it shall be offered and is holy. No exchange or substitute is allowed. If the animal is unclean, the Priest shall value the unclean animal as good or bad and value it. Redeeming the animal shall add a fifth to the valuation.

Notes: One of the vows a man can make is to donate a clean animal to the sanctuary. No redemption of the animal is permitted once the animal has been donated. A person may also contribute an unclean animal for the service of the tabernacle. It is, however, not to be sacrificed. The priests may sell it in the markets and use the money for the sanctuary. If the original owner tries to buy it back, it will cost him 20 percent more than its valuation by the priests.

Leviticus 27:14-15 A house offered as a vow, the Priest shall value it. To redeem the house, the owner must add a fifth to the price.

Notes: This is a more expensive donation than that of an animal. Its value is estimated by the priest; to redeem it one must add, as in the animal case, a fifth to the value.

Leviticus 27:16-25 A piece of land offered as a vow, the valuation shall be based on the proportion to its seed, barley at 50 shekels for a homer (220 liters or 50 gallons). The value shall be based on how much time is left to the next Year of Jubilee. Redeeming the land, the owner must add a fifth to the price. If a vowed piece of land is not wished to be redeemed or sold to another man, it can never be redeemed again. When the land is released during Jubilee, it shall be a holy gift to the Lord and belong to the Priest. A piece of land offered as a vow which is not part of his possession, the valuation is based up to the year of Jubilee and the man shall give the valuation given to him by the Priest to the Lord as a holy gift. The land shall return to the man in the Year of Jubilee from whom it was bought.

Notes: Dedication of land is divided into two cases, that of inherited land (vv. 16–21) and that of purchased land (vv. 22–25). Since the land belongs to the Lord, only the crops can be donated to the Lord (which, in practice, means donating them to the priests). Hence the rules on the jubilee year apply as necessary (vv. 17–18; see 25:15–16). If the donor does not redeem the land when the Jubilee comes, then he forfeits the land to the priesthood. It becomes a binding donation.

Leviticus 27:26-27 Firstborn animals shall not be dedicated as a vow for they already belong to the Lord. If unclean, they can buy it back at valuation plus a fifth, or if not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation decided.

Notes: The firstborn of man or animal cannot be made the subject of a vow because the firstborn already belongs to the Lord

Leviticus 27:28-29 No devoted thing offered to the Lord shall ever be sold or redeemed for it is holy to the Lord. No person devoted the Lord for destruction shall be ransomed, but be put to death.

Notes: he devoted thing (Hb. kherem) belonged irreversibly to the Lord and could not be ransomed. This kind of devoting was part of Israel’s war against the Canaanites (see notes on Deut. 2:34–35; Josh. 6:17); a blasphemer or idolater could also be devoted (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 13:15). Probably only recognized leaders had the authority to pronounce such a sentence.

Leviticus 27:30-34 All tithes (10%) whether of the land, seed, or fruit is the Lord’s and is holy. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, she shall add a fifth to it. All tithes of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. No differentiation shall be made whether good or bad or can a substitute be made for it. But if it is substituted, then both it and substitute shall be hold and cannot be redeemed.

Notes: This general tithe was given to the Levites. Cf. Num. 18:21–32. This is the only mention of tithe or 10 percent in Leviticus. However, along with this offering, there were two other OT tithes, which totaled about 23 percent annually (cf. the second tithe—Deut. 14:22; and the third tithe every three years—Deut. 14:28–29; 26:12).

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