Leviticus 27




The final chapter, attached to the book after the concluding exhortation, is a short

treatise on persons (vs. 2-8), animals (vs. 9-13), houses (vs. 14, 15), lands (vs.16-24),

vowed to God; and on the commutation of vows.


A man might vow to the service of God whatever he had a right over, that is, himself,

his wife, his children, his slaves, his beasts, his houses, or his fields. In case persons

were vowed, the rule was that they should be redeemed at a certain price, though

occasionally the redemption was not made. Vowing a person to God thus, was, as a

rule, no more than vowing so much money to the use of the sanctuary as was fixed as

the price of the redemption of the person vowed. Yet there is a great difference

between the two acts of vowing a person and vowing the correlative sum of money.

A man in great danger or distress might devote himself (Genesis 28:20) or another

(Judges 11:30; I Samuel 1:11) to God, when he never would have vowed money.

Such vows were redeemable, and, as a rule, were redeemed, though there were

some exceptions, as in the case of Samuel.  If beasts were vowed to the Lord

(vs. 9-13), they could not be redeemed if they were such as could be sacrificed to

Him; if they were not such as could be sacrificed, they were to be valued by the

priest, and either retained as a possession of the sanctuary, or, if the owner preferred it,

redeemed by him at the price fixed and one-fifth additional.


If houses were vowed to the Lord (vs. 14, 15), they became the property of the sanctuary,

unless they were redeemed at the valuation set upon them by the priest, with one-fifth

additional.  If hereditary lands were vowed to the Lord (vs. 16-21), they became

the possession of the sanctuary at the year of jubilee, unless they had been

previously redeemed; redemption, however, was in this case the ordinary rule, and we

do not hear of any accumulation of landed property in the hands of the priests from this

source. In the ease of a field which was not an hereditary possession, but a purchase,

being vowed to the Lord (vs. 22-24), the commutation sum was paid down “in that

day,” that is, on the spot in a lump sum, the land going back at the jubilee to the

original owners from whom the temporary possession had been bought by the man

who made the vow.  A section is added forbidding the firstborn of animals, things

devoted, and tithes to be vowed, because they were already the Lord’s; allowing the

redemption of the firstborn of unclean animals, and of the tithes of corn and fruits,

but prohibiting redemption in the ease of sacrificial animals, of things devoted, and of

the tithes of animals.


1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  2 Speak unto the children of Israel,

and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be

for the LORD by thy estimation.  3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from

twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty

shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.  4 And if it be a female, then

thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.  5 And if it be from five years old even unto

twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for

the female ten shekels.  6 And if it be from a month old even unto five years old,

then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female

thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.  7 And if it be from sixty years

old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and

for the female ten shekels. 8 But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he

shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according

to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.” - A discretion is left with the

priest to lower these valuations in case the man who has made the vow is very poor.

According to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.  9 And if it be

a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man

giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.  10 He shall not alter it, nor

change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change

beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.  11 And if it

be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the LORD,

then he shall present the beast before the priest:  12 And the priest shall

value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so

shall it be.  13 But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part

thereof unto thy estimation.  14 And when a man shall sanctify his house

to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be

good or bad:  as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.  15 And if he

that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of

the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.” - The rule as to the

redemption of houses is the same as that regarding the redemption of unclean animals.

The ordinary practice was to redeem.  16 And if a man shall sanctify unto the

LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be

according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at

fifty shekels of silver.  17 If he sanctify his field from the year of jubile,

according to thy estimation it shall stand. 18 But if he sanctify his field

after the jubilee” – (the amount does not seem to have been paid in a lump sum,

but by annual installments) – “then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according

to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubile, and it shall be abated

from thy estimation.  19 And if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem

it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it

shall be assured to him.  20 And if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold

the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.  21 But the field,

when it goeth out in the jubile, shall be holy unto the LORD, as a field devoted;

the possession thereof shall be the priest’s.  22 And if a man sanctify unto the

LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;

23 Then the priest shall reckon unto him the worth of thy estimation, even unto

the year of the jubile: and he shall give thine estimation in that day, as a holy

thing unto the LORD.  24 In the year of the jubile the field shall return unto him

of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did

belong.  25 And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the

sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.” – that is, the shekel at its full

value, before worn by use in traffic - 26 Only the firstling of the beasts, which

should be the LORD’s firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or

sheep: it is the LORD’s.  27 And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem

it according to thine estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be

not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thy estimation.  28 Notwithstanding

no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both

of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed:

every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.  29 None devoted, which shall

be devoted of men, shall be redeemed” -  Whatever is already cherem (a word here

first used as a term well understood), that is, devoted to God, whether devoted for the

purpose of destruction or of entire surrender to Him, may be neither redeemed nor sold.

Whether it be of man, like the Canaanites at Hormah (Numbers 21:2), or of beast, as

the sheep and oxen of the Amalekites (I Samuel 15:21), or of the field, as referred to in

v.21, or of other inanimate objects, as the cities of Hormah (Numbers 21:2), it is either

to be put to death or given up without reserve or commutation to God’s ministers. In

the case of men they must be put to death. “This provision would have applied only to

the devoting of those who were already manifestly under the ban of Jehovah -  those

guilty of such outrageous and flagrant violation of the fundamental law of the covenant

that they manifestly came under the penalty of death. Such persons, instead of being

tried and condemned, might be at once devoted and put to death” (Gardiner). “To this

it may be added that the devotion by ban (cherem) of any object or person was not to

be done by private persons, at their own will, but was performed by the civil magistrates,

under known conditions and laws; e.g. the cities of idolaters, such as Jericho, were so

devoted, and the inhabitants, by the command of God Himself, who made His people to

be the executioners of His judgments against inveterate idolatry (see Deuteronomy

13:13-16; Joshua 6:17) – “but shall surely be put to death.  30 And all the tithe of

the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s:

it is holy unto the LORD.  31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes,

he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.  32 And concerning the tithe of the herd,

or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy

unto the LORD.”  The tithe of the cattle could neither be vowed nor redeemed. As

the young oxen and sheep passed under the rod by which they were counted by the

herdsman, the tenth animal was touched (the rod, according to tradition, having been

dipped in red paint), and handed over to the Levites. There was to be no change made

in the animals, nor was commutation allowed.  33 He shall not search whether it be

good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and

the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.  34 These are the

commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of

Israel in mount Sinai.” The final verse of the previous chapter is repeated after

the further legislation on vows and on their commutation has been added, to show

that it too makes part of the Sinaitic code.





Vows are not instituted by the Mosaic legislation; they were already in existence as a

habit of the Hebrew people, and they are only regulated by Moses. The principle on

the subject of vows is that no one was bound to make a vow, but that when a vow

was made, it must be observed by the payment of the thing vowed or its recognized

commutation. Thus Deuteronomy 23:21-22, “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the

Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely

require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow,

it shall be no sin in thee.” And Numbers 30:2, “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord,

or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he

shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” And Ecclesiastes 5:5,

“Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not






      For example:


ü      Jacob’s vow: “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with

      me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread

      to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s

      house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone,

      which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that

      thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis            



ü      Jephthah’s vow: “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and

      said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into

      mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the

      doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the

      children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and (or) I will offer

      it up for a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31). What Jephthah appeared

      to contemplate as likely to meet him was either a non-sacrificial animal,

      which would then be handed over to the sanctuary (vs. 11-13 of this ch.),         

      or a sacrificial animal, which would be offered up. His daughter came    

      under the first head (ibid. vs. 9-10).


ü      Hannah’s vow: “And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts,

      if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and                

      remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto

      thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all

      the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head”

      (I Samuel 1:11).


ü      Absalom’s pretended vow: “For thy servant vowed a vow while I

      abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the Lord shall bring me again

      indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord (offer sacrifices in

      Hebron)” (II Samuel 15:8-12).



            NOT, OR CEASE TO BE, OBLIGATORY. Jeremiah writes (Jeremiah

            4:2), “And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and

            in righteousness.” Isaiah speaks of those “which swear by the Name of

            the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in

            righteousness (Isaiah 48:1). Accordingly, any oath or vow is void which was

            an unrighteous oath or vow when taken; and the sin of breaking it, though a sin,

            is less than that of keeping it. Therefore Herod ought not to have kept his oath to          

            the daughter of Herodias (Matthew 14:9); and the observance of their oath by

            the forty conspirators who had bound themselves to kill Paul, would have been

            a sin on their part (Acts 23:12-21). The marriage vow, however, stands upon a            

            different basis, because marriage is a contract, containing not only a vow to God,          

            but also a promise to man, by the non-fulfillment of which wrong would be done.

            (Unfortunately, American society is dissolving because of the casual and   

            disobedient approach to this Heaven ordained, bond of glue for society– CY –        




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