“However, the firstborn among animals, since it is already born as a firstborn for Adonai, no one can consecrate — neither ox nor sheep — since it belongs to Adonai already.“-Leviticus 27:26
We’re in the thick of discussing the offerings that accompany the vows when they’re made.
However, with the next type of offering, we encounter an interesting exception.
We’re told that the firstborn among animals and human beings CANNOT be consecrated.
Do you recall the rule concerning the Firstborn established way back in the Book of Exodus when the Lord killed all the firstborn of Egypt so that all the firstborn of the Hebrews could live?
Actually, we can see the firstborn principle in action going all the way back to the book of Genesis.
“In the course of time Cain brought an offering to YHWH from the produce of the soil; and Abel too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat.”-Genesis 4:3-4
Remember all firstfruits or firstborns by default belong to the Lord.
That’s why they can’t be consecrated.
In fact, that was the reason why the Lord was not pleased with Cain’s offering.
Notice it says “in the course of time” Cain brought his offering.
Obviously he didn’t bring the first fruits of his crop yield like he should have.
You can’t give something that already belongs to God as an additional offering.
However, this only applies to things that are ritually CLEAN and suitable to be sacrificed to YHWH.
Unclean things (in this case unclean animals) are eligible for consecration.
However, the unclean animal has to be redeemed (purchased back with money) and the proceeds given to the priesthood.
If a person consecrates an unclean animal he owns like a camel, he has to pay an extra 20% in addition to the price of the animal.
Now probably a lot of you are wondering why in the world would somebody go through this weird process of offering up an animal knowing that he’s just going to turn around and redeem it anyway?
I can’t give you any absolute answers but let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about a very ancient farming and herding based society that was full of customs and traditions far removed from our modern society.
One possible reason is that the person who gave the animal didn’t have any money at the time.
So it was agreed that until the person could come up with the money to redeem it, the animal would be held temporarily.