“If the vow is for the value of an animal of the kind used when people bring an offering to Adonai, all that a person gives of such animals to Adonai will be holy. He is not to exchange or replace it by substituting a good animal for a bad one or vice versa; if he does make such a substitution, both the original animal and the one replacing it will be holy.”-Leviticus 27:9-10
In my last post I finished off by sharing a chart the Rabbis refer to as the “Principle of Equivalents”.
Since it’s pertinent to today’s discussion, let me share it with you again below:
Men 20-60 years old: 50 shekels
Women 20-60 years old: 30 shekels
Boys 5-20 years old: 20 shekels
Girls 5-20 years old: 10 shekels
Male toddlers 1 month-5 years old: 5 shekels
Female toddlers 1 month-5 years old: 3 shekels
Elderly male over 60: 15 shekels
Elderly female over 60: 10 shekels
We’ve actually encountered this idea of equivalents before.
Recall when we were going over the different types of offerings used to atone for certain kinds of transgressions.
For example, when a person presented a Ram as a guilt offering, there is a situation when the worshipper has to present 120% of the value of the ram in silver shekels.
Now for those ladies out there who might be upset because their intrinsic value has been set at a price lower than males, think of it like this.
In those days, it was quite revolutionary that women were even allowed to makes vows to God on their own in the first place.
It was also revolutionary that children (both males and females) were also pledged by their parents for service to God.
So let’s not jump to any conclusions and assume that the Laws of the Torah made females worthless.
While ancient Israel was a patriarchal and male-dominated society, make no mistake about it, women had rights and value and men had certain obligations and duties to them.
And we can see this right here in our portion of this study where the woman has the right to make her own personal vow.
From verse 9, we transition from the redemption of pledged people to the redemption of pledged animals.
Again, when a person pledged an animal as part of his or her vow offering, he or she had the option of turning around and redeeming the animal at 120% its value.
To put it simply, a 20% redemption surcharge was added.
At this point, you might be wondering, who decided the value and set the prices for the various animals that were pledged?
This answer is simple: the priesthood set the value.
The priesthood had tremendous power in this sense.
Here’s the thing.
The prices the priests set for the animals also carried over into the marketplace.
There wouldn’t have been one price for an animal offered up at the sanctuary and another price for the same type of animal bought and sold at the local market.
In addition to their Temple duties, the priests had a hand in determining the market price of animals.
Let’s take a look at verse 9.
“If the vow is for the value of an animal of the kind used when people bring an offering to Adonai, all that a person gives of such animals to Adonai will be holy.“
Here we encounter an interesting exception from all of the other animals that are pledged with a vow.
Verse 9 actually takes us back to a very important principle we learned earlier.
I’m talking about the principle of “holy property”.
When it says that “all that a person gives of such animals will be HOLY”, it means those animals become YHWH’s HOLY property.
And if something becomes YHWH’s HOLY property, there is no way it can be redeemed because it has already been transferred to the Lord.
Once something belongs to God, there is no getting it back.
If a worshipper attempts to get back something he or she has dedicated to the Lord, that is a violation of God’s HOLY property and the penalty is death!
This is precisely the reason why Ananias and Sapphira were killed.
After they had dedicated their property to YHWH, they tried to keep some of it for themselves, which resulted in instant death.
The Torah is alive and well even today folks!
Therefore, animals determined to be used as offerings to Adonai are deemed HOLY and, as to be expected, we are told that such animals can’t later be substituted with another animal even if the substitute animals carry greater value!
What I find really interesting about this principle of HOLY property is that the transformation of a given animal from COMMON to HOLY is a process is based on the mental decision of the worshipper.
Once a worshipper determines in his mind that he’s going to use a certain animal as an offering, it’s a done deal!
And keep in mind this takes place BEFORE the animal is brought to the temple.
The animal instantly transforms into God’s HOLY property at the point of decision in the worshipper’s mind.
Now check out this excerpt from verse 10:
“…if he does make such a substitution, both the original animal and the one replacing it will be holy.“
If the worshipper attempts to substitute one animal he has already purposed in his mind to sacrifice, the priest is given orders to keep both animals!
Simple, since they have now BOTH been dedicated to YHWH, they are both HOLY property.
And, if you think about it, the instructions to the priest is quite a compassionate act on behalf of the worshipper.
Because if he somehow ended up taking back the HOLY animal he had just turned over to the priesthood, he would be killed instantly.
No questions asked, no pass go, and no collect $200!
He would be dead.
Nobody and I mean nobody messes with God’s Holy Property.
And you want to know what the HOLIEST place on the earth is?
It’s called ISRAEL!
I pray for those who would attempt to take God’s HOLY property and attempt to partition it up and give it to a people to whom God says it must not be given to.