Leviticus 27

27 Again, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man makes a difficult vow, he shall be valued according to your valuation of persons belonging to the Lord. If your valuation is of the male from twenty years even to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. Or if it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels. If it be from five years even to twenty years old then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels and for the female ten shekels. But if they are from a month even up to five years old, then your valuation shall be five shekels of silver for the male, and for the female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver. If they are from sixty years old and upward, if it is a male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels. But if he is poorer than your valuation, then he shall be placed before the priest and the priest shall value him; according to [a]the means of the one who vowed, the priest shall value him.

‘Now if it is an animal of the kind which [b]men can present as an offering to the Lord, any such that one gives to the Lord shall be holy. 10 He shall not replace it or exchange it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good; or if he does exchange animal for animal, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. 11 If, however, it is any unclean animal of the kind which [c]men do not present as an offering to the Lord, then he shall place the animal before the priest. 12 The priest shall value it [d]as either good or bad; as you, the priest, value it, so it shall be. 13 But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation.

14 ‘Now if a man consecrates his house as holy to the Lord, then the priest shall value it [e]as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15 Yet if the one who consecrates it should wish to redeem his house, then he shall add one-fifth of your valuation price to it, so that it may be his.

16 ‘Again, if a man consecrates to the Lord part of the fields of his own property, then your valuation shall be [f]proportionate to the seed needed for it: a homer of barley seed at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he consecrates his field as of the year of jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand. 18 If he consecrates his field after the jubilee, however, then the priest shall calculate the price for [g]him [h]proportionate to the years that are left until the year of jubilee; and it shall be deducted from your valuation. 19 If the one who consecrates it should ever wish to redeem the field, then he shall add one-fifth of your valuation price to it, so that it may pass to him. 20 Yet if he will not redeem the field, [i]but has sold the field to another man, it may no longer be redeemed; 21 and when it [j]reverts in the jubilee, the field shall be holy to the Lord, like a field [k]set apart; it shall be for the priest as his [l]property. 22 Or if he consecrates to the Lord a field which he has bought, which is not a part of the field of his own [m]property, 23 then the priest shall calculate for [n]him the amount of your valuation up to the year of jubilee; and he shall on that day give your valuation as holy to the Lord. 24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return to the one from whom he bought it, to whom the possession of the land belongs. 25 Every valuation of yours, moreover, shall be after the shekel of the sanctuary. The shekel shall be twenty gerahs.

26 ‘However, a firstborn among animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may consecrate it; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s. 27 But if it is among the unclean animals, then he shall [o]redeem it according to your valuation and add to it one-fifth of it; and if it is not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your valuation.

28 ‘Nevertheless, anything which a man [p]sets apart to the Lord out of all that he has, of man or animal or of the fields of his own property, shall not be sold or redeemed. Anything [q]devoted to destruction is most holy to the Lord. 29 No [r]one who may have been [s]set apart among men shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.

30 ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it. 32 For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He is not to be concerned whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. It shall not be redeemed.’”

34 These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons of Israel at Mount Sinai.

Parts of this section are rather confusing, so I had to read it again in another translation, so here’s my summary. These rules apply if you dedicate some of your property, whether a slave, and animal, a field, a house, crops, etc. If you later decide that you’d rather have just given money, then you can exchange your property by adding 20% of the value. Essentially, these were for free-will offerings and tithes, not for sacrifices. Anything that was to be sacrificed could not be redeemed at all.

These “dedications” meant that the property would become the property of the priests, and again God is protecting the priests from folks who might take advantage of them otherwise. If you want your property back, no problem, but you have to pay 20% extra to do so. No cheating the priest or anything like that, since the priest would actually determine the value based on the law.

I can’t say as I’ve ever heard of any such thing around here, but if there’s a lesson in all this, it’s to give with a generous heart, and not be stingy or try to be controlling about what we give. Once we give, it belongs to the church, and to God, and we relinquish any rights to that property/money.

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