Covenant Terms & Conditions (Leviticus 26-27)

The eight and final part of the Leviticus overview with commentary. Chapters 26-27 deals with the terms and concisions of the covenant as well as some land civil and economic rules concerning land, livestock, crops and tithes.

Leviticus Chapter 26:
God reminds Israel they are not to make carved or cut idol images and must keep the Sabbath. God promises to bless the Israelites with an abundant harvest and rain if they keep his regulations. Their harvest will be so plentiful that the different harvest seasons will overlap planting seasons and they will have complete stability and security. He promises to give them peace in the land, and they will sleep without fear. Wild animals will be driven out and their enemies will be chased away. God will give them victory in any conflicts they have with outsiders, five of them will chase 100, and 100 will chase 10,000. God promises to increase their numbers and they will have so much harvest from the previous year they will have to make room for new food. God promises to walk with them and guide them and be in a personal relationship with them, this is why he rescued them from Egypt and freed them from slavery.

However, if they rebel against God all of those blessings will be curses. They will be sick with chronic diseases and have shortened lifespans. Their crops will be devoured and destroyed, and nothing they plant will be harvested. They will be conquered by their enemies and they will flee when no one pursues. If they continue in their stubbornness, God strikes them seven times over and he will break their pride by making the skies as unyielding as iron and the earth as hard as bronze. This means all of their work will be for nothing, for their land will yield no crops, and their trees will bear no fruit. If they continue in sin they will get seven times the punishment, and God will send wild animals to destroy their livestock and take their children, and their numbers will be reduced until their roads are deserted. Seven times more condemnation if they don’t repent at this point, they will be hit with famine, plagues, and conquest. The bread supply will be so low that 10 women can bake all the bread in one oven and while the food may be enough no one will be satisfied.

If they are still rebellious then there will be seven more times the punishment.
They will starve so bad they will be tempted to practice cannibalism. Corpses will be piled on top of their pagan shrines and the idols will be smashed and pagan altars will be destroyed. Cities will be ruined and sanctuaries desolate. God will take no pleasure in their offerings because they have broken the covenant. The land will be so desolate that their enemies will be appalled at what they see. Finally, the land will be paid in Sabbaths. The land will lay desolate in a “rest” state to make up for all the yearly Sabbaths (shmitas) they failed to keep. Those who survive will be exiled to foreign lands and will live in fear and anxiety under oppression by foreign kings. The sounds of leaves in the wind will terrify them. They will flee and fall when no one is pursuing them. They will be powerless in the lands of their enemies and they will be consumed in trauma.

Eventually, those that survive will feel the guilt of what they did and confess their sins and repent. Despite being exiled for the duration of the sabbath and being in utter despair God will reinstate His covenant and restore them in order to keep his promise to their ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt and he will eventually restore them.

Comment: The Israelites were in exile for 70 years because the land was resting to make up for the 490 years of ignoring God’s shmita command (2 Chon. 36:21). This result came from the condition met in Lev 26:34-35. The goal here is to get them to repent, he punishes them at different levels, and if they keep ignoring him things get worse. The judgment is progressive because the wants o show them mercy.

Leviticus Chapter 27:
If someone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to God then the financial payment for that redemption from that vow will be based on the person’s attributes. A man from ages 20 to 60 is worth 50 shekels of silver, and a woman of the same age is worth 30 shekels. A young person from ages 5-20 would be 20 shekels for a boy and 10 for a girl. For babies from one month to five years, it will be five shekels for the boy and three shekels for the girl. For people over 60, men are 15 shekels the women are 10 shekels. If the vow maker can’t afford the redemption fee, then the priest will examine the person to be dedicated and determine a price.

Dedications of clean animals that are acceptable for offerings are good. People can’t exchange a dedicated animal, not even a good one for a bad one or vice versa. Anyone that wants to substitute must simply give them both to God. All unclean animals must be evaluated by the priest before dedication because they can not be sacrificed. If the owner wants to redeem it, they must pay the price plus 20% interest. If a person wants to dedicate his house to God, the priest will examine it and set a value on it. If that person goes to redeem the house they must pay the price set by the priest plus 20% interest.

If a person dedicates a portion of his family land, it will be valued based on size and how many seeds can be planted on it. The rate will be 50 shekels for five bushels of barley. If this dedication happens during Jubilee, the valuation still stands. If it is evaluated after Jubilee, then the number of years remaining until the next Jubilee will factor into the evaluation and will reduce the price accordingly. The redeem their land a person must pay the assessed value plus 20% interest. If the dedicator doesn’t want it back or the field has already been sold by the priest then it will not be redeemed. If already sold, that new purchaser must give it back to the priest on Jubilee because it belongs to the priest as a permanent possession since it is consecrated. If a man wants to dedicate a field that he purchased from someone else, then the value is calculated based on the remaining years until Jubilee. On that same day, the man must pay the assessed value of the land as a sacred donation. Then later at Jubilee, it will go back to the original owner. All payments must be measured by the sanctuary shekel.

Firstborn clean mammals(cattle, sheep, and goats) cannot be dedicated since they already belong to God. However, the people can redeem first-born unclean animals at the value assessed by the priest with 20% interest. If it is not redeemed then the priest can sell it at that assessed value. Anything that is specially set apart for God, person, animal, or land may never be sold or redeemed, because they fully belong to God. No one set apart as guilty of a deadly sin can be redeemed because they are sentenced to death.

All of the tithes (10%) from crops and fruit belong to God and if someone wants to redeem their tithe they must add 20% interest on it. The tithes of livestock belong to God as well. Animal tithes cannot be exchanged, they cannot pick and choose good vs bad animals. If someone wants to exchange an animal tithe, both the original and the substitute will belong to God.

Comment: The redemption of unclean animals in Lev 27:27 seems to be distinct from the original redemption of all firstborns as it applies to unclean animals (Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20). Back in Exodus unclean animals are either killed outside the camp (they don’t belong on the altar), or are substituted for a clean animal. However, in Lev 27:27 they are redeemed for money. The distinction may be that they are originally substituted for a clean animal and then are dedicated later on. It is at this dedication that redemption requires payment of an assessed value with 20% interest. Clean mammals (cattle, sheep, and goats) are very distinguished since cannot be sacrificed eight days after their birth (Lev 22:27). This is similar to male circumcision happening on the eighth day for humans (Gen 17:12). Unclean animals don’t have this rule so a different mechanism applies to them entirely. They are substituted or killed when born and

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