Friday, February 12, 2010

More Money for God

Previously in Leviticus 26, God wrapped up the long list of laws within the book of Leviticus by describing the blessings that the Israelites would receive for obeying them, and the curses if they chose not to obey. It was an excellent grand finale to the book, which makes Leviticus 27, the last chapter of Leviticus and the subject of this study, seem like a misfit appendix.

More Money for God
You are valuable to God! You have a price, as do many other things. Let us take a look at just how valuable you are to God in the final chapter of Leviticus, and examine how much value God places on other offerings as we look into Leviticus 27; offerings up to and including human sacrifice.

Leviticus 27:1-8 regulates the value of everybody. If someone makes a vow to God to give an “equivalent value” for a particular person, these are the going rates for that person based on age and gender:




20-60 years old

50 silver shekels

30 silver shekels

5-20 years old

20 silver shekels

10 silver shekels

1 month-5 years old

5 silver shekels

3 silver shekels

More than 60 years old

15 silver shekels

10 silver shekels

The most valuable male is only worth about 20 ounces of silver (roughly US$120 as of February 2010) to God. Also notice that not everyone is the same value to God, but rather it is based on age and gender, with females being at best 2/3 and as little as 1/2 as valuable as males for a given age. So, yes, God does value everyone, but not equally. To God, women are considerably less valuable, and young children are practically worthless.

According to Leviticus 27:9-13, if a person vows an animal which is ceremonially clean, it becomes holy, destined for sacrifice, and cannot be substituted. However, if the animal is not ceremonially clean, the person can redeem it (or buy it back) for its priest-appraised value plus 20%.

Similarly, in Leviticus 27:14-15 we find that if a person dedicates a house to God, the person can redeem it for its priest-appraised value plus 20%.

Leviticus 27:16-24 covers if a person dedicates land to God, and in a similar manner the land can be bought back for an appraised value plus 20%. That appraised value is based off of how much seed is required for it, with a rate of 50 shekels (the going rate for a 20-60 year old man) per roughly 6 bushels of seed. The land also had special rules because of the Jubilee laws which return lands to their original owners in the year of the Jubilee.

These redemptions are just like Jesus' redemption in that... well, no, actually it is not at all like Jesus' redemption. There is no foreshadowing or typology here.

Speaking of Jesus, do you remember the tale about how Jesus threw out the money changers form the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, implicitly in Luke 19:45-46, and John 2:13-17)? They were there due to the verse of Leviticus 27:25, which stated that all of these cash payments were to be made according to the value of the sanctuary shekel.

Back to the Old Testament, Leviticus 27:26-27 reminds them that God already gets the firstborn animals, but He is willing to sell back the unclean ones.

Leviticus 27:28-29 steps into another kind of devoting to God; an irrevocable giving, such as by burnt sacrifice. That can include human sacrifice! Verse 28 states that anything a man owns and irrevocably devotes to God, including men, animals, or land, cannot be redeemed because it is most holy. Verse 29 goes on to say that any man given to God in such a way must be killed!

Now, what humans could a man “own” to give as such offerings? His slaves, his wife, and even his sons and daughters could be sacrificed in such a way. See the horrible story of Jephthah in Judges 11:29-40 for such a case, where he sacrifices his only child, his young daughter, to God by burnt offering. This is in the Good Book, you know, God's word.

Getting back to money, just in case these voluntary offerings did not fully support the Levites, God makes the giving of a tithe of produce and livestock compulsory in Leviticus 27:30-33.

With these various laws for financial offerings, and the regulations which provided for periodic and random sacrifices of foodstuffs, God has poised Himself to become very wealthy, or rather has poised the Levites to become high-class citizens which controlled the majority-share of the wealth of the Israelites. In other words, they were set up to be exactly the kind of people Jesus supposedly rejected for their love of wealth and importance.


  1. I would like to see a bumper sticker:

    You are valuable to God!
    5-50 shekels...