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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 27

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8


Verses 1-8:

This Leviticus concerns the making of vows to God, regarding persons, verses 2-8; animals, verses 9-13; houses, verses 14, 15; and the lands, verses 16-24; and how these vows may be released.

A man might vow to give to God anything or anyone over whom he had authority, or of himself. If one vowed a person to God’s service, that person could be redeemed at a certain price.

"Singular vow," a special vow, from pala, "to make wonderful, do wonderfully."

A vow was a voluntary promise to God, that one would do something pleasing to Him, or would fulfill some service, in return for a benefit he expected from God, see Ge 28:20-22; Nu 30; Jg 11:30. Or, it might be a vow to abstain from something, Nu 30:3. Vows were not considered a religious duty, but once made they were binding, De 23:21-23; Ec 5:4; Ps 66:13: Jg 11:35. To be binding, the vow must be spoken, De 23:23.

When a man made a special vow, either of himself or of some other person, the priest declared the amount required to redeem this person and thus release him from it. This amount varied according to age and sex, and was computed by the temple shekel. This apparently not a coin, but a unit of weight, as coinage of money was not common at the time Moses’ Law was given. The temple shekel weighed approximately 35 ounces, somewhat lighter than the common shekel of about .4 ounces.

1. A male, between twenty and sixty years of age. The redemption price was fifty shekels of silver. This was likely about 17.5 ounces, equivalent to a little over $260.00 in today’s reckoning.

2. A female, of the same age. The redemption price was thirty shekels, likely about 10.5 ounces, or about $155.00.

3. A male, between five and twenty years of age. The redemption price was twenty shekels, about seven ounces, or about $105.00

4. A female, of the same age. The redemption price was ten shekels, about 3.5 ounces, or about $52.00.

5. A male, of one month to five years of age. The redemption price was five shekels, about one and three-quarter ounces, or about $26.00.

6. A female, of the same age. The redemption price was three shekels, a little over one ounce, or about $16.00.

7. A male sixty years of age or older. The redemption price was fifteen shekels, about five and one quarter ounces, or about $79.00.

8. A female sixty years of age or older. The redemption price was ten shekels, about 3.5 ounces, or about $52.00.

(NOTE.- These figures are based upon a figure of $15.00 per ounce.)

If the one who made the vow was too poor to pay the redemption price, the priest might use his own discretion to lower the terms to - enable him to pay.

Verses 9-13

Verses 9-13:

A clean animal vowed to the Lord was not to be exchanged for another on the grounds that it was not good enough to be offered as a sacrifice, or that it was too good to be offered. Any such attempt resulted in both animals being surrendered to be sacrificed. Or, if blemished, they might be added to the priests’ herds.

An unclean animal, one which might not be sacrificed, was to be appraised by the priest. If the owner redeemed it, he was required to add twenty percent of its value to the redemption price.

For a list of clean and unclean animals see Le 11.

Verses 14-15

Verses 14, 15:

The regulations which applied to a house sanctified by a vow were the same as those which applied to unclean animals. It was the common practice to redeem these by payment of the appraised value of the house, plus twenty percent.

Verses 16-21

Verses 16-21:

This law pertains to the ancestral possession of a man. He might sanctify it to the Lord, under the following conditions:

1. The priest must appraise it, based upon the estimated production of grain. The value was based upon an amount of fifty shekels (about $260.00) per homer (five and a half bushels) of barley.

2. If the vow were made the year of or the year following the Jubilee, the full price was assessed.

3. If the vow were made after the first year, the priest deducted the amount of the previous harvests from the total.

4. In the event one sold his interest in the field before making the vow, he paid nothing. No redemption was allowed. And title to the field passed to the sanctuary as the priests’ possession in the Jubilee Year, and did not revert to the original owner.

Verses 22-25

Verses 22-25:

A man might sanctify to the Lord a field that he had bought, which was not his inheritance or ancestral possession. The priest calculated the redemption price after the prescribed formula. The full amount was due and payable on the day of the vow. And the property reverted to the original owner in the Jubilee Year.

All financial transactions were to be on the basis of the shekel of the temple, about .35 ounces per shekel.

Verses 26-29

Verses 26-29:

This text divides the law of vows into four categories;

1. The first born of beasts, both clean and unclean.

2. Those things devoted to the Lord.

3. Tithes of the field.’

4. Tithes of the cattle.

The firstborn animals already belonged to the Lord, and could not be vowed to Him again, Ex 13:11-15; 34:19, 20; Nu 18:15-19. The sacrificial animals were to be sacrificed, Ex 13:15. The firstborn of the donkey was to be either redeemed by offering of a sheep, or to be put to death by breaking its neck, Ex 13:13; 34:20. Other unclean animals were to be redeemed, by adding twenty percent to the redemption price; if not redeemed, they were to be sold and the proceeds given to the sanctuary.

"Devoted," cherern, denoting a thing either devoted to God or to destruction. Such devoted things could be neither redeemed nor sold. This was true whether it be:

1. Man, as the Canaanites at Hormah, Nu 21:1-3;

2. Beast, as the livestock of the Amalekites, 1Sa 15:21;

3. Field, verse 21, or other inanimate objects.

In the case of men, they were to be put to death. This applies to those who were already under the ban of Jehovah, who were guilty of such sins as to evoke His wrath by their flagrant violations of His righteous principles. Such a vow was apparently not made by an individual, but by the civil authorities as a judicial ruling, see De 13:12-18; Jos 7:16-26.

Verses 30-34

Verses 30-34:

The law of the tithe applied alike to the produce of the field, and to the increase of the flock and the herd. One tenth of all the increase belonged to the Lord.

Traditionally, animals were tallied in this manner: a rod was dipped in red paint and handed to the Levite, who then touched every tenth animal with the rod. No attempt was to be made to select which animal was thus touched, whether the prize bull or heifer, or the runt. Each tenth one was the Lord’s. If an attempt was made to substitute for it, both animals were then declared holy, and could not be redeemed.

A tithe animal or produce could be redeemed by paying the appraised value, plus twenty percent.

The principle of the tithe dates to Abraham, Ge 19:20; Heb 7:4. Jacob vowed to tithe unto the Lord, Ge 28:22.

God prescribed that the tithes should be the portion given to the Levites, by the rest of Israel’s tribes, see Nu 18:21; De 14:28. Paul affirmed that this is the principle by which the preaching of the Gospel is to be maintained, 1Co 9:7-14. The writer of the Hebrew Epistle affirms that Jesus receives tithes today from those who would honor Him, Heb 7:8.

Verse 34 concludes the writing of the Law given to Moses for Israel from Sinai.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 27". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-27.html. 1985.
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