Chapter 27


Regulations for Vows and Tithes

    • The Lord told Moses to give the Israelites the following instructions:

      • If someone makes a special vow dedicating someone to the Lord by paying the value of that person, this is the method for determining value: An adult male aged 20-60 years is 50 shekels (according to the standard sanctuary shekel); An adult female aged 20-60 years is 30 shekels; a boy aged 5-20 years is 20 shekels; a girl aged 5-20 years is 10 shekels; a boy aged 1 month to 5 years is 5 shekels, and a girl aged 1 month to 5 years is 3 shekels; an adult male over 60 years is 15 shekels; and an adult female over 60 years is 10 shekels. If you want to make a vow, but can’t afford the standard price, take the person to the priest and he will decide an amount for the person based on what you can afford.”

        • What does this mean? Guzik explains, “What did it mean to consecrate a person to the Lord? It could be done either for one’s self, or on behalf of another (such as consecrating a child unto the Lord). This was a completely voluntary act, meant to demonstrate that this person was totally given to God…For example, a man from the tribe of Judah, in a time of distress, or out of gratitude, or out of a sense of calling, wants to consecrate his son to the Lord. He could not give his son to the service of the tabernacle, because he was not a priestly family. So to consecrate his son, he would follow the procedures in the following verses…The beauty of these commands is that it gave the one making a vow of consecration something definite to do; the vow of consecration was therefore far more than mere words, it had a definite action associated with it – and prevented people from making empty vows to God.”

      • Regarding the varying value placed on individuals based on age and gender Guzik writes, “Persons were assigned a value according to their age and general usefulness to society; especially in an agricultural society, there was a definite sense in which a man between 20 and 50 was more ‘valuable’ than a child one month to five years old.”

      • If your vow involves offering an acceptable animal to the Lord any animal will be considered holy. However, you can’t substitute a different animal once you have set a particular animal aside, neither exchanging a good animal for a bad one or a bad animal for a good one. If someone does substitute the animal set aside for offering, both animals become considered holy (the original animal set aside as well as the substitute presented). If the animal brought is an unclean animal (one that isn’t considered an acceptable offering to the Lord) it must be taken to the priest who will determine its value. The priest’s valuation is final (even if you consider it too high or too low) and if you decide to buy the animal back, you must pay the amount the priest declared plus an extra 20%.”

      • If someone dedicates his house to the Lord, the priest will come to assess its value and his assessment is final (even if you consider it too high or too low). If the person decides they want to buy it back, they must pay the priest’s assessed value plus 20%.”

      • If someone dedicates family property to the Lord, its value will be determined based on the amount of seed which is required to plant it- 50 shekels for a field that requires 50 bushels of barley seed. If the field is dedicated in the Jubilee Year, the entire assessed value applies. However, if it is dedicated after the Jubilee Year, the value of the land will be altered based on how many years are left until the next Jubilee, with the value falling each year. If the person wants to buy the land back, he must pay the assessed price plus an extra 20%. However, if the original owner doesn’t buy the land back and it is subsequently sold to someone else, the original owner cannot buy it back. When the field is released in the Jubilee Year, it will be considered holy and “set apart” to the Lord and will belong to the priests.”

      • If someone dedicates land he has bought but that is not part of his family property, the priest will assess its value based on the number of years remaining until the next Jubilee. The day of the Jubilee, the person must give the assessed value as a donation to the Lord and the ownership of the field will revert to the person whom he bought it from (the person whose family the property originally belonged to).”

      • Firstborn from your livestock can’t be dedicated to the Lord because all firstborn already belong to Him. However, you can buy back the firstborn of an unclean animal by paying the priest’s assessed value plus 20%. If you choose not to buy it back, the priest will sell it for its assessed value.”

      • Nothing that has been set apart for the Lord (whether person, animal, or property) can ever be sold or bought back- it has been set aside as holy and belongs to the Lord. No person that has been set aside for destruction can be bought back- they must be put to death.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible explains, “The context here is the war for the conquest of Canaan, when cities, animals, and people deemed holy to some other god were set apart to be destroyed.” Guzik adds, “In this sense also, one could not escape execution by being ‘bought back’ from the Lord; they had to face the penalty for their crime.”

      • 1/10th of the land’s produce (whether grain or fruit) belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to Him as holy. If anyone wants to buy back part of the Lord’s 1/10th, they must pay its value plus an additional 20%. Every 10th animal in your herds must be set apart to the Lord as holy.” These are the commands that the Lord gave to the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai.

        • NLT Illusrated Study Bible notes, “1/10th (the ‘tithe’) of the harvest belonged to the Lord. Members of the tribe of Levi, the priests and the Levites, received no tribal lands. Accordingly, they were allotted one tenth of all produce from those who did own land (Numbers 18:21-29). This tithe was set aside every year (Deuteronomy 14:22) and was taken to the sanctuary; part of it was eaten there in a ritual meal (Deuteronomy 14:23-26). A second tithe was paid locally every 3rd year to the local Levites and the poor (Deuteronomy 14:27-29; 26:12; contrast Amos 4:4). The Levites then paid a tithe of what they received to the Tabernacle priests (Numbers 18:26), who used it to support themselves and maintain the sanctuary. Some interpreters think there were three tithes, the first paid to the Levites, the second consumed at the sanctuary, and the third paid every 3rd year for the poor. Others suggest that there was just one tithe, paid at the sanctuary for 2 years, then paid locally every 3rd year.”

      • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible includes a really interesting discussion on the Hebrew word kherem which is used extensively in this chapter:

      • The Hebrew word kherem (‘specially set apart) is difficult to translate because it represents a concept for which there is no exact parallel in modern English. In the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, kherem designated something that was dedicated to a pagan god and therefore hostile to the Lord. Such things were to be destroyed (Leviticus 27:29). In the case of valuable metal items, they were brought to the sanctuary, where they became holy to the Lord (27:28; see also Joshua 6:19, 24). The concept of being ‘specially set apart’ was also applied to Israel’s enemies when they and their property were destroyed (Joshua 6:17-19; 1 Samuel 15:2-3). In Leviticus 27:21, kherem indicates an acceptable vow devoting something to the Lord for use in the sanctuary (see Numbers 18:14). This made the item, land, or person holy. The thing or person could not be bought back; it remained in the Lord’s service permanently. The concept of complete dedication through total destruction underlies several passages in the apostle Paul’s writings. In Romans 9:3, Paul was even willing to be declared anathema (the Greek equivalent of kherem) if it would bring about the salvation of his fellow Jews. In Galatians 1:8-9, the same Greek word indicates an appropriate end for those who preach a false gospel. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul warns that no one speaking in the Spirit can call Jesus anathema, that is, no one who has God’s Spirit will interpret Jesus’ crucifixion as a sign of God’s rejection of Him, as the Jews of Paul’s day did. Instead, they will recognize it as an act of atonement for sinful humanity.”

      • We’ll conclude the book of Leviticus with this very apt quote from Clarke, “Reader, thou hast now gone through the whole of this most interesting book; a book whose subject is too little regarded by Christians in general. Here thou mayest discover the rigid requisitions of Divine justice, the sinfulness of sin, the exceeding breadth of the commandment, and the end of all human perfection . . . By this law then is the knowledge, but not the cure of sin . . . We see then that Christ was the end of the law for righteousness (for justification) to every one that believeth.”