Leviticus 27:1-34


Leviticus 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27



27:1 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

KJ (King James translation): And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

BN (BibleNet translation): Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:


27:2 DABER EL BENEY YISRA'EL VE AMARTA AL'EHEM ISH KI YAPHLI NEDER BE ERCHECHA NAPHSHOT LA YHVH



דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ כִּי יַפְלִא נֶדֶר בְּעֶרְכְּךָ נְפָשֹׁת לַיהוָה

KJ: 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.

BN (provisional): Speak to the Beney Yisra-El, and tell them: When a man shall clearly utter a vow of persons to YHVH, according to your valuation...


BE ERCHECHA NAPHSHOT: It is not immediately clear what this means, nor how the translation is obtained from the given Yehudit. A "personal vow" perhaps? Most English-language translators regard it as a "special vow", by which a person is dedicated to YHVH; but what do either of those terms mean - the latter would surely be a vow of Nazirut if that interpretation were correct?  Rashi (who lived from 1040-1105 CE) comments: "to give the valuation of his life, i.e., saying: 'I take it upon myself [to donate to the Holy Temple] the value (בְּעֶרְכְּךָ) of a vital (נְפָשֹׁת) organ" - by which orthodox commentators assume he means the head or the liver, though it is not clear how one would have dedicated these body-parts in his day, or in Biblical times; and if it was not organ-donation in the medical sense, then what was it? 

   The source for his exegesis is given as Torath Kohanim 26:57; but Torath Kohanim is simply the alternate name used by Talmudic commentators for Va Yikra/Leviticus (see here/p2), so in fact his source is... Leviticus 26:57, only there is no Leviticus 26:57, because that chapter ends at verse 46. At least, it does in the versions we are using today, but the Masoretic text was not yet finalised in Rashi's day; nonetheless we can safely assume that his source was this chapter and that the named source was an error.

   A second source is also given, Arachin 20a, and this is much more useful. As the text in the link explains - in a rather unorthodox English, translated, I suspect, from a much more orthodox Yiddish - "Leviticus 27 describes the laws regarding the dedications of people, animals, and houses to G-d. The dedication involved sacrificing the item in question to G-d. In some cases, such as in the dedication of animal, the item could be literally sacrificed. However, in other cases, such as a person, there is a general principle that the sacrifice was substituted for a monetary payment given towards the service of G-d... The Talmud (Arachin 20a) interprets the phrase בְּעֶרְכְּךָ נְפָשֹׁת to refer to vital organs of the body. Hence a man could dedicate his heart or liver to G-d. However, this was interpreted as meaning giving an amount corresponding to the value of his life. Again, as in the case of dedicating an unclean animal, we see that dedicating one's life meant in practice giving a certain compensation to the Temple treasury... To cross-validate what I have claimed above, consider the redemption of the first-born male child. Numbers 3:45-47 records G-d commanding Moses to take the Levites in place of the firstborn male children of Israel for service in the Tabernacle. Moses is also commanded to take five (silver) shekel coins for each of 237 people in excess of the Levites. The firstborn male children of Israel were originally supposed to serve as priests. But as Jewish tradition holds it, they forfeited this right to the Levites due to the sin with the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. As the firstborn males can no longer be holy to serve in the Temple, they must be redeemed for an appropriate value. And this practice actually continues to this day in Judaism."
   So we can now offer a revised translation:



BN (revised, but still provisional; see after verse 6): Speak to the children of Yisra-El, and tell them: When a man makes a public vow, to dedicate a part of himself to YHVH, this is how its value shall be calculated...



27:3 VE HAYAH ERCHECHA HA ZACHAR MI BEN ESRIM SHANAH VE AD BEN SHISHIM SHANAH VE HAYAH ERCHECHA CHAMISHIM SHEKEL KESEPH BE SHEKEL HA KODESH

וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ הַזָּכָר מִבֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְעַד בֶּן שִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ חֲמִשִּׁים שֶׁקֶל כֶּסֶף בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ

KJ: 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.

BN: This shall be your valuation: for a male aged between twenty and sixty, your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.


At what point in history was this valuation calculated? I ask for two reasons. First, because the shekel of the sanctuary is unlikely to have existed in the Mosaic wilderness, as wandering slaves who have become refugees do not generally issue coinage; more evidence for the later dating of the text. Second, because the real value of thirty shekels is not constant: and so it might be a great deal more, or less, if it was the Solomonic sanctuary, or that of the Second Temple. 


27:4 VE IM NEKEVAH HI VE HAYAH ERCHECHA SHELOSHIM SHAKEL


וְאִם נְקֵבָה הִוא וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁקֶל

KJ: And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.

BN: And if it be a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels.


NEKEVAH: But verse 2 explicitly said ISH, which we translated as "man", masculine. And if ISH can mean both male and female on this occasion, why does most Jewish law exclude the female on virtually every other occasion?

No age-range is given, but the verse that follows infers that the same age-range as for the male is intended.


27:5 VE IM MI BEN CHAMESH SHANIM VE AD BEN ESRIM SHANAH VE HAYAH ERCHECHA HA ZACHAR ESRIM SHEKALIM VE LA NEKEVAH ASERET SHEKALIM



וְאִם מִבֶּן חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְעַד בֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ הַזָּכָר עֶשְׂרִים שְׁקָלִים וְלַנְּקֵבָה עֲשֶׂרֶת שְׁקָלִים

KJ: 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.

BN: And if it be between five and twenty years old, then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.


The trouble with eternal laws is that sometimes they are ephemerally rooted. This law fails to take into account inflation or devaluation. What is worth ten shekels in 1300 BCE may require an entirely different sum in 300 BCE.

The construct in verse 2 - at least, the Rabbinic explanation of the construct, which we decided to support for lack of any better explanation - was some sort of personal vow, dedicating a part of one's body in some metaphorical manner; and all vows must be BE RATSON, made "willingly". Is there a serious expectation that a 5 year old is able to make a vow of this sort? The question then gets triple underlined in the next verse!

Methinks we need to go back and look for a better explanation of the construct.


27:6 VE IM MI BEN CHODESH VE AD BEN CHAMESH SHANIM VE HAYAH ERCHECHA HA ZACHAR CHAMISHAH SHEKALIM KASEPH VE LA NEKEVAH ERCHECHA SHELOSHET SHEKALIM KASEPH



וְאִם מִבֶּן חֹדֶשׁ וְעַד בֶּן חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ הַזָּכָר חֲמִשָּׁה שְׁקָלִים כָּסֶף וְלַנְּקֵבָה עֶרְכְּךָ שְׁלֹשֶׁת שְׁקָלִים כָּסֶף

KJ: 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.

BN: If it be between a month and five years old, then your valuation for the male shall be five shekels of silver, and your valuation for the female shall be three shekels of silver.


Once again, the idea of "your" valuation is disingenuous; the price is being set by YHVH, not Mosheh. This is theocratic capitalism, not market forces.

How does this variation in values fit into that other theo-ry, the equality of the species, stated unequivocally in Genesis 1:27?

And what other explanation might we venture? That this is a new form of the Akeda perhaps, dedicating not a part of one's own body, but the whole of one's child's being, spiritually and metaphorically, to the observances - this verse, this chapter, comes immediately after the completion of the covenant renewal process, with only one element lacking: the personal signing-up to said covenant. Just as the pidyon ha ben was created to enable the first-born son to be redeemed rather than physically sacrificed, might this be the means of confirming that vow. An Oath of Allegiance, supported by a donation.

Which would then allow us to revise our translation of verse 2, as follows:

27:2, final revision: Speak to the children of Yisra-El, and tell them: When any person, male or female, makes a public vow, to dedicate their life to YHVH, this is how the donation confirming that commitment shall be calculated...


27:7 VE IM MI BEN SHISHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH IM ZACHAR VE HAYAH ERCHECHA CHAMISHAH ASAR SHAKEL VE LA NEKEVAH ASARAH SHEKALIM


וְאִם מִבֶּן שִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה אִם זָכָר וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר שָׁקֶל וְלַנְּקֵבָה עֲשָׂרָה שְׁקָלִים

KJ: 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.

BN: And if that person is sixty or older: if it is male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels.


I don't understand why the same numbers appear differently expressed in different verses - the ten for the female for example.


27:8 VE IM MACH HU ME ERCHECHA VE HE'EMIYDU LIPHNEY HA KOHEN VE HE'ERICH OTO HA KOHEN AL PI ASHER TASIG YAD HA NODER YA'ARIYCHENU HA KOHEN


וְאִם מָךְ הוּא מֵעֶרְכֶּךָ וְהֶעֱמִידוֹ לִפְנֵי הַכֹּהֵן וְהֶעֱרִיךְ אֹתוֹ הַכֹּהֵן עַל-פִּי אֲשֶׁר תַּשִּׂיג יַד הַנֹּדֵר יַעֲרִיכֶנּוּ הַכֹּהֵן

KJ: 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.

BN: But if he is too poor to meet your valuation, then he shall be set before the Kohen, and the Kohen shall value him; according to his means, so shall the Kohen value he who has made this vow.


Which sounds horribly like the auctioning of human souls at the slave-market, or Super-Sunday at the Jewish Federation. And in fact, that is precisely what it is: the goal is to make a vow to give in charity (a vow not a pledge; but either way annulled at Yom Kippur!), and today we dedicate our time, by volunteering, or our heads, by serving on committees and bringing wisdom and ideas, or with our bank accounts, by putting coins in boxes, or with our egos, by having our name inscribed on a plaque; and today, unlike then, we can even give our hearts and lungs and other organs, literally, physically, by post-mortuary donation.

samech break


27:9 VE IM BEHEMAH ASHER YAKRIYVU MIMENAH KARBAN LA YHVH KOL ASHER YITEN MIMENU LA YHVH YIHEYEH KODESH

וְאִם בְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיבוּ מִמֶּנָּה קָרְבָּן לַיהוָה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן מִמֶּנּוּ לַיהוָה יִהְיֶה קֹּדֶשׁ

KJ: 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.

BN: And if it is an animal that men bring as an offering to YHVH, every part of it which the man gives to YHVH shall be set apart as holy.


The document has now moved on; this is now about bringing animals for sacrifice, not about bringing your sheep or cow up to live a proper Jewsh life. But the phrasing suggests that it is yet another version, from yet another time, or place.


27:10 LO YACHALIYPHENU VE LO YAMIR OTO TOV BE RA O RA BE TOV VE IM HAMER YAMIR BEHEMAH BI VEHEMAH VE HAYAH HU U TEMURATO YIHEYEH KODESH



לֹא יַחֲלִיפֶנּוּ וְלֹא יָמִיר אֹתוֹ טוֹב בְּרָע אוֹ רַע בְּטוֹב וְאִם הָמֵר יָמִיר בְּהֵמָה בִּבְהֵמָה וְהָיָה הוּא וּתְמוּרָתוֹ יִהְיֶה קֹּדֶשׁ

KJ: 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.

BN: He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; but if he does in any way change animal for animal, then both it and the one for which it is changed shall be set apart as holy.


In other words, both beasts get sacrificed, and serves you right.

Once again, we have to make this point: humans do not generally enact legal prohibitions or obligations of this sort unless the matter in hand is commonplace and causing concern. We have to assume that it had become habitual to dedicate the lamb, and then, at the last minute, to turn up with the mutton.


27:11 VE IM KOL BEHEMAH TEME'AH ASHER LO YAKRIYVU MIMENAH KARBAN LA YHVH VE HE'EMID ET HA BEHEMAH LIPHNEY HA KOHEN



וְאִם כָּל בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַקְרִיבוּ מִמֶּנָּה קָרְבָּן לַיהוָה וְהֶעֱמִיד אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה לִפְנֵי הַכֹּהֵן

KJ: 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:

BN: And if it be any kind of unclean beast, of which they may not bring an offering to YHVH, then he shall set the beast before the Kohen.


27:12 VE HE'ERICH HA KOHEN OTAH BEYN TOV U VEYN RA KE ERCHECHA HA KOHEN KEN YIHEYEH



וְהֶעֱרִיךְ הַכֹּהֵן אֹתָהּ בֵּין טוֹב וּבֵין רָע כְּעֶרְכְּךָ הַכֹּהֵן כֵּן יִהְיֶה

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

BN: And the Kohen shall value it, whether it be good or bad; as you the Kohen value it, so shall it be.


We have already been given these laws, haven't we? Well. yes, we have, but in fact, what we are getting now is not repetition, but clarification, the kinds of amendment that only happen after a law has been in place for a while, and people have been slipping through or taking advantage of loopholes. So, in this case, we received previously the definition of clean versus unclean beasts, and the instruction that only clean beasts may be brought; but nothing about what happens if someone, whether knowingly or unknowingly, brings an unclean beast, and it doesn't become known until it is already inside the sanctuary. So we can see again that all these laws cannot have been given to Mosheh in one go at Mount Sinai; we are witnessing the development of law, not just its inception.


27:13 VE IM GA'OL YIG'ALENAH VE YASAPH CHAMIYSHITO AL ERCHECHA



וְאִם גָּאֹל יִגְאָלֶנָּה וְיָסַף חֲמִישִׁתוֹ עַל עֶרְכֶּךָ

KJ: But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.

BN: But if he intends to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth to your valuation.


The beast is unclean, so it cannot be sacrificed. But it has been vowed, and so it has been given "holy" status - it cannot now be killed and eaten. Therefore it must be redeemed, and as with all redemptions, that means coins. But here an additional 20% is added - which can only mean a fine, because the act of charity is already implicit in the redemption; and so we can assume that this amendment was intended, like the "exchange" beast previously, for those who knew exactly what they were hoping to get away with when they brought an unclean beast.


27:14 VE ISH KI YAKDISH ET BEITO KODESH LA YHVH VE HE'ERIYCHO HA KOHEN BEYN TOV U VEYN RA KA ASHER YA'ARICH OTO HA KOHEN KEN YAKUM



וְאִישׁ כִּי יַקְדִּשׁ אֶת בֵּיתוֹ קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה וְהֶעֱרִיכוֹ הַכֹּהֵן בֵּין טוֹב וּבֵין רָע כַּאֲשֶׁר יַעֲרִיךְ אֹתוֹ הַכֹּהֵן כֵּן יָקוּם

KJ: 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.

BN: And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy to YHVH, then the Kohen shall value it, whether it be good or bad; as the Kohen shall value it, so shall it stand.


This does not mean the transformation of one's home into a stibl, but possibly the chanukat ha bayit ceremony when building it is complete, or the new tenant or owner takes it over; or possibly, by the nature of the next verse, some kind of mortgage arrangement or use of the property as collateral. What do the scholars say?


In the Hindu world, every home has a shrine in it somewhere, with household gods; Lavan clearly did something of the same order, as we know from Rachel taking what are called his "teraphim" - household gods - when she flees with Ya'akov (Genesis 31:19). But household gods are prohibited in the Mosaic cult, so the sanctification of the house is not this.


27:15 VE IM HA MAKDISH YIG'AL ET BEITO VE YASAPH CHAMIYSHIT KESEPH ERCHECHA ALAV VE HAYAH LO

וְאִם הַמַּקְדִּישׁ יִגְאַל אֶת בֵּיתוֹ וְיָסַף חֲמִישִׁית כֶּסֶף עֶרְכְּךָ עָלָיו וְהָיָה לוֹ

KJ: 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.

BN: And if he who sanctified it wishes to redeem his house, then he shall add one-fifth of your financial valuation to it, and so it shall be.


Once again the fifth part, and I am wondering where, if anywhere, in the Torah, this figure is established, and in what circumstances, and on what terms - because I know that 10% is specified in the story of Ya'akov at Beit-El in Genesis 28:22 (see verse 32 below). Why, then, is it not 10% here as well?

To which the answer is Genesis 47:18-26 - and the circumstances, and the terms, are highly significant, because here too the Beney Yisra-El are selling themselves as bondsmen in exchange for food and fertility. The context is Mitsrayim (Egypt), under the Viziership of Yoseph. The seven years of good are over, those of famine have begun, "And when that year was ended, they came to him in the second year, and said to him, 'We will not hide from my lord, that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord's; there is nothing left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be bondsmen to Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate. So Yoseph bought all the land of Mitsrayim for Pharaoh; for the Mitsrim sold every man his field, because the famine was sore upon them; and the land became Pharaoh's. And as for the people, he removed them city by city, from one end of the border of Mitsrayim to the other end thereof. Only the land of the priests did he not purchase, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and ate the portion which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.Then Yoseph said to the people, 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Lo here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass at the ingatherings, that you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.' And they said, 'You have saved our lives. Let us find favour in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's bondmen.' And Yoseph made it a statute concerning the land of Mitsrayim to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh's."


27:17 VE IM MI SEDEH ACHUZATO YAKDISH ISH LA YHVH VE HAYAH ERCHECHA LEPHI ZAR'O ZERA CHOMER SE'ORIM BA CHAMISHIM SHEKEL KASEPH


וְאִם מִשְּׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ יַקְדִּישׁ אִישׁ לַיהוָה וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ לְפִי זַרְעוֹ זֶרַע חֹמֶר שְׂעֹרִים בַּחֲמִשִּׁים שֶׁקֶל כָּסֶף

KJ: 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.

BN: And if a man decides to set apart a section of a field that he owns as holy to YHVH, then your valuation shall be according to the sowing of that field; the sowing of a sheaf of barley shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.


So the Kohen makes the final tally, because the total cannot be predicted, not even by an omniscient deity; but it is still YHVH who sets the terms, and for all time.

CHOMER SE'ORIM is rendered by some translators as a "Homer of barley", which I guess is the equivalent in value of an Eliot of lilacs of or a Proust of madeleines. If we are really looking for language games here, you may have noticed that CHOMER SE'ORIM without pointing could be mis-read as CHAMOR SE'IRIM, the former being a donkey, the latter goats!


27:17 IM MI SHENAT HA YOVEL YAKDISH SAD'EHU KE ERCHECHA YAKUM



אִם מִשְּׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל יַקְדִּישׁ שָׂדֵהוּ כְּעֶרְכְּךָ יָקוּם

KJ: If he sanctify his field from the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand.

BN: If he sets the field apart as holy from the jubilee year, it shall stand according to your valuation.


Relative autonomy, but autonomy nonetheless. Or perhaps I should say qualified autonomy, because the jubilee laws are given, and the base amount is given, so really, again, it is only the calculation of the value of the harvest, within those two frameworks, that the Kohen determines.


27:18 VE IM ACHAR HA YOVEL YAKDISH SAD'EHU VE CHISHAV LO HA KOHEN ET HA KESEPH AL PI HA SHANIM HA NOTAROT AD SHENAT HA YOVEL VE NIGRA ME ERCHECHA



וְאִם אַחַר הַיֹּבֵל יַקְדִּישׁ שָׂדֵהוּ וְחִשַּׁב לוֹ הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הַכֶּסֶף עַל פִּי הַשָּׁנִים הַנּוֹתָרֹת עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל וְנִגְרַע מֵעֶרְכֶּךָ

KJ: But if he sanctify his field after the jubile, 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.

BN: But if he sets the field apart as holy after the jubilee, then the Kohen shall reckon to him the money according to the years that remain until the next jubilee, and an abatement shall be made from your valuation.


Ditto, the Kohen is merely using the two frameworks to make the calculation; he doesn't set the terms. In modern parlance, this is the equivalent of working out what taxes are due, and what exemptions, when a company does its charitable giving between January and December, but its accounting by the tax year, April to April.


27:19 VE IM GA'OL YIG'AL ET HA SADEH HA MAKDISH OTO VE YASAPH CHAMISHIT KESEPH ERCHECHA ALAV VE KAM LO



וְאִם גָּאֹל יִגְאַל אֶת הַשָּׂדֶה הַמַּקְדִּישׁ אֹתוֹ וְיָסַף חֲמִשִׁית כֶּסֶף עֶרְכְּךָ עָלָיו וְקָם לוֹ

KJ: 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.

BN: And if he truly intends to redeem the sanctified field, then he shall add one-fifth to your financial valuation, and that way he will secure it.



Which does rather sound like the Kohen is requiring him to put down a deposit as a guarantor. Or is this a Biblical system for farmers to raise investment cash by mortgage, and the nearest to a banking system, let alone venture capitalists, is the shekel of the sanctuary?


27:20 VE IM LO YIG'AL ET HA SADEH VE IM MACHAR ET HA SADEH LE ISH ACHER LO YIGA'EL OD


וְאִם לֹא יִגְאַל אֶת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאִם מָכַר אֶת הַשָּׂדֶה לְאִישׁ אַחֵר לֹא יִגָּאֵל עוֹד

KJ: 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.

BN: And if he does not intend to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.


This verse is crucial in our understanding whether ACHUZAH is to be understood as "inheritance" or as "possession"; it is precisely this distinction that is being made here, and thereby confirms "inheritance". If the inheritor pays the redemption, he recovers the inheritance; if he sells it to someone else, it is no longer his inheritance, but his "former possession", and he gives up all rights to it - which means that future generations cannot claim ancestral rights.



27:21 VE HAYAH HA SADEH BE TSE'TO VA YOVEL KODESH LA YHVH KI SEDEH HA CHEREM LA KOHEN TIHEYEH ACHUZATO



וְהָיָה הַשָּׂדֶה בְּצֵאתוֹ בַיֹּבֵל קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה כִּשְׂדֵה הַחֵרֶם לַכֹּהֵן תִּהְיֶה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ

KJ: 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.

BN: But the field, when it goes out in the jubilee, shall be holy to YHVH, as a dedicated field; it shall become the possession of the priest.


All of this, of course, applies to people living in a settled land, practicing agriculture, and not to a desert people wandering in the wilderness. Again confirmation of late dating.

No reason is given for this ordinance, but I think we can safely assume that this was the method by which the Kohanim obtained those designated areas of arable land close to the forty-eight towns and villages given to them in Numbers 35:1-3. How else would that land be chosen? If it was a clan or tribal inheritance, then it was protected. If it was redeemed, it was protected (holy). But if the clan or tribe had stated clearly at the jubilee that it didsn't want to redeem it, and no one else wanted to be the go'el, then it had become a "brown-field" site, and no one was going to complain that the priests parked their cattle and raised their allotments there.
   With the additional possibility that it becomes the land of the Kohanim through a Biblical equivalent of foreclosure.

CHEREM: But how does this get to be a CHEREM, which has many meanings, but nowhere else does it have this one? In all probability, its earliest meaning was "holiness", in the sense of "devoted to" or "protected by" the deity, and that the word came to mean "ex-communication" from the Kayin legend, or others like it - sent out into the Land of Nod is the equivalent of being ex-communicated, but Kayin's "mark" ensures that no one will take his life, because he is "protected" by the deity. This also accords with the Ya'akov story, for which see my note to verse 32 below.


27:22 VE IM ET SEDEH MIKNATO ASHER LO MI SEDEH ACHUZATO YAKDISH LA YHVH

וְאִם אֶת שְׂדֵה מִקְנָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר לֹא מִשְּׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ יַקְדִּישׁ לַיהוָה

KJ: And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;

BN: And if he should sanctify to YHVH a field which he has bought, but which is not a part of the field of his inheritance...


Why would anyone do that? There is an indistinct, a vague, a mere hint of a suggestion, that sanctifying land in this manner has certain financial as well as spiritual advantages, which meet the interests of both the layman and the clergy - see my comment about cash through mortgagaes above. Personal vows too, the sanctifying of one's ears or thigh-bones, as it were. Which is why I used the tax analogy in my comment on verse 18. The same word - covenant - is used today for donations given over a period of years (usually 5 in the English system) that come with tax advantages for both giver and recipient.



27:23 VE CHISHAV LO HA KOHEN ET MICHSAT HA ERCHECHA AD SHENAT HA YOVEL VE NATAN ET HA ERCHECHA BA YOM HA HU KODESH LA YHVH


וְחִשַּׁב לוֹ הַכֹּהֵן אֵת מִכְסַת הָעֶרְכְּךָ עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל וְנָתַן אֶת הָעֶרְכְּךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה

KJ: 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.

BN: Then the Kohen shall calculate for him the worth of the valuation until the jubilee year; and he shall give you your valuation on that day, as a holy thing to YHVH.


Which may provide the justification for YHVH setting the base valuation, and not leaving it to Mosheh or the priests - the avoidance of any risk of corruption (see, for example, the tale of Hophni and Pinchas in 1 Samuel 2:12-17; which is also worth looking at because it confirms that the sanctuary functioned both as the abattoir and as the kitchen).


27:24 BI SHENAT HA YOVEL YASHUV HA SADEH LA ASHER KANAHU ME ITO LA ASHER LO ACHUZAT HA ARETS

בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל יָשׁוּב הַשָּׂדֶה לַאֲשֶׁר קָנָהוּ מֵאִתּוֹ לַאֲשֶׁר לוֹ אֲחֻזַּת הָאָרֶץ

KJ: 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.

BN: In the jubilee year the field shall be returned to the person from whom it was purchased, even to him to whom the inheritance of the land belongs.


The land therefore belongs to the tribe, in perpetuity, though deals can be struck over who gets to farm it and therefore harvest the yield, between one jubilee and the next. This concept, of course, lies at the heart of all forms of nationalism, not least the Zionism of the Jews.


27:25 VE CHOL ERCHECHA YIHEYEH BE SHEKEL HA KODESH ESRIM GERAH YIHEYEH HA SHAKEL


וְכָל עֶרְכְּךָ יִהְיֶה בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִים גֵּרָה יִהְיֶה הַשָּׁקֶל

KJ: And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.

BN: And all your valuations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary; twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.

(see Weights and Measures)


27:26 ACH BECHOR ASHER YEVUKAR LA YHVH BI VEHEMAH LO YAKDISH ISH OTO IM SHOR IM SEH LA YHVH HU



אַךְ בְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר יְבֻכַּר לַיהוָה בִּבְהֵמָה לֹא יַקְדִּישׁ אִישׁ אֹתוֹ אִם שׁוֹר אִם שֶׂה לַיהוָה הוּא

KJ: 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.

BN: But the first-born among your animals belong to YHVH; no man shall set it apart; whether it be an ox or a sheep, it belongs to YHVH.


I wonder if we have here a case of mis-hearing two very similar words: BECHOR (first-born) and YEVUKAR (chosen). Aurally it is impossible to tell between them, except by context; BECHOR however is written with a CHAF, and YEVUCHAR, in the meaning given here, likewise; but there is also YEVUCHAR, with a CHET (יבוחר), meaning "selected" or "chosen". This would render the verse as: "However, the first-born among your animals, which has been selected for YHVH, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox or sheep, it is for YHVH", which makes it adhere to a law given previously.

 
27:27 VE IM BA BEHEMAH HA TEME'AH U PHADAH VE ERCHECHA VE YASAPH CHAMISHITO ALAV VE IM LO YIGA'EL VE NIMKAR BE ERCHECHA



וְאִם בַּבְּהֵמָה הַטְּמֵאָה וּפָדָה בְעֶרְכֶּךָ וְיָסַף חֲמִשִׁתוֹ עָלָיו וְאִם לֹא יִגָּאֵל וְנִמְכַּר בְּעֶרְכֶּךָ

KJ: 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.

BN: And if it comes from an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to your valuation, and shall add one-fifth to it; and if it is not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your valuation.


27:28 ACH KOL CHEREM ASHER YACHARIM ISH LA YHVH MI KOL ASHER LO ME ADAM U VEHEMAH U MI SEDEH ACHUZATO LO YIMACHER VE LO YIGA'EL KOL CHEREM KODESH KADASHIM HU LA YHVH



אַךְ כָּל חֵרֶם אֲשֶׁר יַחֲרִם אִישׁ לַיהוָה מִכָּל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ מֵאָדָם וּבְהֵמָה וּמִשְּׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ לֹא יִמָּכֵר וְלֹא יִגָּאֵל כָּל חֵרֶם קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הוּא לַיהוָה

KJ: 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.

BN: Notwithstanding, nothing that a man has dedicated to YHVH, out of everything he owns, whether of man or beast, or of the field of his inheritance, nothing shall be sold or redeemed; every dedicated thing counts as a holy of holies to YHVH.


CHEREM: Some translations choose "devoted" here over "dedicated"; the difference is subtly small, but it is nonetheless a difference.


KODESH KADASHIM: I have been slightly naughty in rendering this as "counts as a holy of holies", but that is the phrase that is used here, so it isn't really my naughtiness at all, simply that every other translation avoids the direct allusion, preferring "most holy", which of course it is, but the Yehudit is much more specific. 



27:29 KOL CHEREM ASHER YACHARAM MIN HA ADAM LO YIPADEH MOT YUMAT



כָּל חֵרֶם אֲשֶׁר יָחֳרַם מִן הָאָדָם לֹא יִפָּדֶה מוֹת יוּמָת

KJ: None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.

BN: Nothing that has been dedicated by any man may be redeemed, on pain of death.


This isn't clear: what does it actually mean? There is a distinction being made between regular dedications, as described previously, and these which are specifically CHEREM. So an explanation depends upon the explanation of the cherem, above.



27:30 VE CHOL MA'SAR HA ARETS MI ZERA HA ARETS MI PERI HA ETS LA YHVH HU KODESH LA YHVH

וְכָל מַעְשַׂר הָאָרֶץ מִזֶּרַע הָאָרֶץ מִפְּרִי הָעֵץ לַיהוָה הוּא קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה

KJ: 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.

BN: And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is YHVH's; it is holy to YHVH.


So YHVH will keep telling the Beney Yisra-El that he has brought them to this land, to inherit it, to be theirs, but the bottom line is: they will never own it; it remains YHVH's, and they mere stewards, at best! And then they have to pay for the privilege! And of course this is the intention of Genesis 1:26-29. The deity has made the Earth, and created Humankind to serve as its steward; not to own it, to steward it.


27:31 VE IM GA'OL YIGA'EL ISH MI MA'ASRO CHAMISHIYTO YOSEPH ALAV



וְאִם גָּאֹל יִגְאַל אִישׁ מִמַּעַשְׂרוֹ חֲמִשִׁיתוֹ יֹסֵף עָלָיו

KJ: And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

BN: And if a man will redeem any of his tithe, he shall add one-fifth to it.


YOSEPH: I can't help wondering if the word-association here is coincidence or deliberate; that the one-fifth levee came, as we have seen, from Yoseph in Genesis 47; and here is Yoseph again, as a verb not a proper noun, "adding" precisely that fifth part.


CHAMISHIYTO: Sometimes the text includes the Yud, sometimes not - is this just arbitrariness or is there a grammatical explanation that I'm missing?



27:32  VE CHOL MA'SAR BAKAR VA TSON KOL ASHER YA'AVOR TACHAT HA SHAVET HA ASIYRI YIHEYEH KODESH LA YHVH


וְכָל מַעְשַׂר בָּקָר וָצֹאן כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבֹר תַּחַת הַשָּׁבֶט הָעֲשִׂירִי יִהְיֶה קֹּדֶשׁ לַיהוָה

KJ: 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.

BN: And all the tithe of the herd or the flock, whatever passes under the rod, one-tenth shall be holy to YHVH.


KOL ASHER YA'AVOR TACHAT HA SHAVET: needs explaining. Is the word SHAVET connected to the word for "tribe"? And what does "pass under the rod" mean? The answer appears to lie in Genesis 30, starting at verse 37, where Ya'akov "took rods of fresh poplar, and from the almond and the plane-tree; and he peeled white streaks in them, making the white appear which was in the rods" - the tale of his genetically modifying Lavan's sheep, so that the white (Lavan's) are bred out, and the speckled (his) are bred in. And the connection would make sense here, except that... "the rod" in the Ya'akov story was a MAKAL (מַקַּל), and not a SHAVET, as here.

HA ASIYRI: This parallels Ya'akov's assertion (see my note to verse 15 above) in Genesis 28:20-22 that "If Elohim will be with me, and will protect me on this road that I travel, and will give me bread to eat, and clothes to wear, so that I come back to my father's house in peace; then Elohim shall be my god. And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be a shrine of Elohim: and of everything that you shall give me, I will surely give back a tenth to you."
   A tenth, not a fifth.


27:33 LO YEVAKER BEYN TOV LA RA VE LO YEMIYRENU VE IM HAMER YEMIYREYNU VE HAYAH HU U TEMURATO YIHEYEH KODESH LO YIGA'EL



לֹא יְבַקֵּר בֵּין טוֹב לָרַע וְלֹא יְמִירֶנּוּ וְאִם הָמֵר יְמִירֶנּוּ וְהָיָה הוּא וּתְמוּרָתוֹ יִהְיֶה קֹּדֶשׁ לֹא יִגָּאֵל

KJ: 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.

BN: He shall not inquire whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it; and if he change it at all, then both it and that for which it is changed shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.


This parallels verses 12 and 14 above.


27:34 ELEH HA MITSVOT ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH EL BENEY YISRA-EL BE HAR SINAI



אֵלֶּה הַמִּצְוֹת אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהַר סִינָי

KJ: These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

BN: These are the commandments, which YHVH gave as instructions to Mosheh for the Beney Yisra-El on Mount Sinai. 


Leviticus appears to have been entirely YHVH, never Elohim - is that right? Is it also true of Numbers and Deuteronomy?

pey break



Leviticus 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27


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