27 ~ 20170514 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible
Leviticus 27; Better Not to Vow;Audio
27 is the last chapter of the book. Many scholars feel that this
chapter is out of place, an appendix that doesn't really fit.
Chapter 26 with the covenant blessings and curses and the promise of
restoration seems like a more fitting end to the book.
chapter gives specific instructions on vows to the LORD. The vow
offering was mentioned but not explained back in Leviticus 7:16;
22:18, 21, 23; 23:38, which left us wondering what a vow offering is
all about. This chapter talks about the proper value of things,
something that ties back to Leviticus 5:15, 18; 6:6.
The adjustment of the value of land in
relation to the year of jubilee connects back to chapter 25. The
concept of redemption also connects this chapter with chapter 25.
26 was a promise or vow from the LORD; a promise of blessing for
obedience and a promise of discipline for rebellion and
disobedience. It is common when we have experienced great blessing,
out of abundant gratitude to make some kind of promise to the LORD.
It is also common in times of great distress, like those described
in chapter 26, to promise to the LORD if he will get you out of the
desperate situation you are in. Jacob, fleeing from his murderous
brother in Genesis 28, made a vow to the LORD if he would protect
him and provide for him and return him to his home in peace, then
the LORD would be his God and he would give a tenth of everything
back to the LORD. So it is fitting to find a chapter regulating vows
right after the chapter on blessings and curses.
Day of Atonement
appropriate in this section on holy living, that we would find
instructions on vows and dedication to the LORD.
moves from vows of persons and animals to dedication of houses and
land and back through restrictions of vows on animals and persons
--2-8 vows of
valuation of persons
belong to the LORD
redemption or ransom for devoted things
belongs to the LORD
places an emphasis on a fair valuation of things, and requires an
additional 20% to be added to something dedicated that is then
bought back by the one who gave it.
The main point
of this chapter is 'be careful what you vow, because God will hold
you to it.'
of Valuation of Persons
Leviticus 27:1 The
LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel
and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the LORD involving
the valuation of persons, 3 then the valuation of a male from twenty
years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver,
according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 4 If the person is a
female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5 If the person is
from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be
for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 6 If the
person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall
be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation
shall be three shekels of silver. 7 And if the person is sixty years
old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels,
and for a female ten shekels. 8 And if someone is too poor to pay
the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and
the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to
what the vower can afford.
A vow of a
person to the LORD seems unusual, but this is what Hannah prayed in
1 Samuel 1
1 Samuel 1:11 And
she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed
look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not
forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I
will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor
shall touch his head.”
In her case, her
son Samuel was given into the service of the tabernacle. But
according to Leviticus, many people would be restricted from service
in the tabernacle or temple. This passage sets a standard monetary
equivalent for persons of differing capacity for work.
Age Male Female
shekels 30 shekels
shekels 10 shekels
shekels 3 shekels
60+ yrs. 15
shekels 10 shekels
As some estimate
the wages of a laborer were about a shekel a month (Hartley, p.481,
citing Wenham) these prices were high. But even in this, there was
provision for the poor.
Leviticus 27:9 “If
the vow is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the LORD,
all of it that he gives to the LORD is holy. 10 He shall not
exchange it or make a substitute for it, good for bad, or bad for
good; and if he does in fact substitute one animal for another, then
both it and the substitute shall be holy. 11 And if it is any
unclean animal that may not be offered as an offering to the LORD,
then he shall stand the animal before the priest, 12 and the priest
shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it
shall be. 13 But if he wishes to redeem it, he shall add a fifth to
could be vowed to the Lord. In Judges 11 when Jephtha vowed:
Judges 11:30 And
Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give
the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the
doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the
Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt
he envisioned one of his flock or herd coming to meet him. The
animal could have been clean or unclean; if it were clean, it could
not be substituted; if it were unclean, it must be either sold or
redeemed. What came to meet Jephtha from his door was his daughter,
his only child. If Jephtha had known the law, according to Leviticus
5, he could have confessed the sin of his rash oath and offered an
animal sacrifice to the LORD. But this story illustrates how
seriously the people took vows.
Judges 11:35 And as
soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my
daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the
cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the
LORD, and I cannot take back my vow.” ...39 And at the end of
two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according
to his vow that he had made...
of the Scriptures can have appalling consequences. This was a time
when Israel 'abandoned the LORD and served' false gods; a time when
'everyone did what was right in his own eyes.' Attempting to
manipulate God with a vow or a promise is a dangerous venture.
“When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the LORD,
the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest
values it, so it shall stand. 15 And if the donor wishes to redeem
his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall
be his. 16 “If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land
that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to
its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of
silver. 17 If he dedicates his field from the year of jubilee, the
valuation shall stand, 18 but if he dedicates his field after the
jubilee, then the priest shall calculate the price according to the
years that remain until the year of jubilee, and a deduction shall
be made from the valuation. 19 And if he who dedicates the field
wishes to redeem it, then he shall add a fifth to its valuation
price, and it shall remain his. 20 But if he does not wish to redeem
the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not
be redeemed anymore. 21 But the field, when it is released in the
jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the LORD, like a field that has
been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it. 22 If he
dedicates to the LORD a field that he has bought, which is not a
part of his possession, 23 then the priest shall calculate the
amount of the valuation for it up to the year of jubilee, and the
man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the LORD.
24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it
was bought, to whom the land belongs as a possession. 25 Every
valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty
gerahs shall make a shekel.
and land can be dedicated to the LORD. There was to be a fair and
standard valuation, based on its potential productivity and years of
availability. As with other things, a house or field can be redeemed
by the donor with an added 20%.
there were restrictions on what could or could not be donated.
“But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to
the LORD, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the
LORD's. 27 And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back
at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed,
it shall be sold at the valuation.
to Exodus 13, God laid claim to all firstborn animals. So a person
could not attempt to claim double credit for one animal. A firstborn
animal already belongs to the LORD, so he could not also pledge it
as the fulfillment of a vow.
Devoted Things and People
of the laws here specify values and what is to be paid to redeem
something back after having vowed it. The assumption is that a
person after vowing then reconsiders and wants to reclaim what they
pledged in a vow. There is provision in some cases for an additional
fee to redeem something back.
“But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the LORD, of
anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited
field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy
to the LORD. 29 No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction
from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.
devoted thing is a category from which there is no recourse. A
devoted thing is most holy to the LORD, and cannot be sold or
redeemed. It must be used exclusively in service to YHWH. Some
cities during the conquest, like Jericho, were devoted to
destruction. Some people, like those guilty of premeditated murder,
were devoted to destruction and could not be freed by any payment.
final section deals with tithes. Tithes already belong to the LORD,
so a tithe cannot also be offered in fulfillment of a vow.
“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or
of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD. 31
If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to
it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of
all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the LORD.
33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he
make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then
both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”
34 These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the
people of Israel on Mount Sinai.
Not To Vow
will not be cheated. As he says in Malachi,
Malachi 1:14 Cursed
be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet
sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King,
says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the
“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay
fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you,
and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from vowing,
you will not be guilty of sin. 23 You shall be careful to do what
has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD
your God what you have promised with your mouth.
definition, vows are freely made. There is no expectation, no
obligation, no consequence for not making the vow. A vow can be a
beautiful expression of thanksgiving and worship to our gracious
God. But vows are never to be used to gain advantage or to
manipulate God to do our will.
In the early
church, in an atmosphere of unity and generosity, where the
believers, amazed by God's graceto them in Jesus, were eager to
extend his grace and generosity to one another.
Acts 5:1 But a man
named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2
and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the
proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles'
feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your
heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part
of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not
remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?
Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have
not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words,
he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who
heard of it.
It is clear,
they were under no obligation to give anything. They sought to
appear more generous than they were. They lied to the Holy Spirit.
That proved to be very costly.
The Preacher in
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to
listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do
not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth,
nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is
in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3
For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many
words. 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he
has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you
should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your
mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it
was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the
work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many,
there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
Proverbs 20:24 A
man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?
25 It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to
reflect only after making vows.
That is a good
summary of what this concluding chapter of Leviticus is about. Do
not vow rashly. Our tendency is to speak before we think. We are
inclined to think we can manipulate the situation.
Jacob's and Jephtha's come from a lack of faith. God had just
unconditionally promised to Jacob that he would be with him and
would bless him and return him home in peace. Jephtha had been
empowered by God's Spirit and God was already moving to give the
Ammonites into his hand. But Jephtha felt he had to bribe God to get
him to do what he wanted. Jacob responded to God's unconditional
promises with a condition promise – 'if you do what you say,
then I will give you something back'. These vows were rooted in
doubt. They attempted to leverage God to do what they wished with a
bribe. They undermined God's gracious character and promises.
Our God is a
Father who loves to give good gifts to his children. God has given
to us his precious and very great promises in the gospel (2Pet.1:4).
What God gives is grace – freely given.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he
exalts himself to show mercy to you... 19 ...He will surely be
gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he
Ephesians 2:4 But
God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he
loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— ...
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches
of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace
you have been saved...
the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus. It is all of grace. God will be no man's debtor.
Romans 11:35 “Or
who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org