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Leviticus Chapter 27 Summary
On Second Thought…
- This chapter wraps everything up with even more details on these offerings and vows—as well as how you can get some of your gifts to God back.
- Giving a gift to a religious group today is pretty easy. Dollar bills and credit cards are both okay, and apparently it even gets rid of any ethical obligation to tip the wait staff.
- Now imagine a faithful Israelite donating his cows, crops, farmland, house or, um, slaves—and realizing afterward that without them he's going to go bust.
- The writer of Leviticus provides some basic guidelines.
- The 10% donation rule: Israelites have to give the Tabernacle ten percent of their cattle, flocks and harvest. The Torah calls this a tithe. Others might call it a tax. Any way they cut it, it's hard to carry.
- The 20% buyback rule: an Israelite who changes his mind about a donation that can't be sacrificed can get it back by paying the priests what it's worth plus 20%.
- God is so predictable.
- Of course, the priests set the base price, and since they're the ones who benefit most for the transaction, it's probably not going to be cheap.
- The technical term for this buyback is redemption, a word that will get a lot of play in the New Testament.
- In addition, there's the nice 100% rule: there are some things you give to God that you can never buy back. For example, animals that can be sacrificed—sorry, they're toast.
- And the naughty 100% rule: if you vow to crush, kill and destroy in God's name, no takebacks—even if Israel's sworn enemy leaves behind a sweet condo with an indoor pool, killer views, and a conscientious doorman.
Bringing It All Back Home
- On the surface, these rules might seem kind of random, but the author really does use this chapter to call back to themes from the rest of the book. Here are a few of the big ones:
- Promises and agreements matter. Messing up means having to make things right. Sometimes it's with a sacrifice or a 20% penalty. Other times God turns everyone into cannibals.
- Economic justice. The 20% buyback rule can be lowered for poor people. Then again, not many poor people have stuff to donate or vow so it's a bit of a wash.
- Priestly power. They sacrifice. They set prices. They get a cut of everything you make. It's good to be the priest.
- Holy separation. Setting things apart keeps the community together, even if the rules don't always make sense.
The Never-Ending Story
- The sacrifices are over. The key themes wrapped up. It's finally time to get to the book's true last verse.
- Surprise! Once again, it's a callback to the beginning.
- Did you know that Moses received these instructions from God near Mount Sinai to give to the people? What happened goes something like this…