Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday February 25: Leviticus 26-27 ~ Cameron

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 26-27

I found it interesting in a book…scroll I guess…that has gone into many details on mandatory sacrifices and rituals spends the final chapter on voluntary vows. More specifically, on the prices for breaking those vows. In this context a vow was a promise to dedicate someone/something to the temple beyond what was required by the Law in exchange for some good fortune. This chapter is not a good commentary on mankind's ability to make and keep promises.

The prices to pull out of a vow were not cheap…but it was possible. As a reference, the average wage of a worker in biblical times was about a shekelof silver per month.
(Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), p. 338.  From <> )
So an adult male wanting to be freed from an oath would pay nearly 5 years in wages to the temple! That would make me think twice before I opened my mouth (Proverbs 17:28).

Additionally. the values specified correspond with the standard rate of a slave or prisoner (2 Kings 15:20). We can sometimes feel trapped by our own words but that does have to be the case. If the Law had provisions for redemption, how much moreso do we in Christ? This does not absolve us of the responsibility to measure our words but we are never bound by destructive promises.

I recalled the story of Jephthah and his vow to sacrifice the first thing to walk out of his tent when he returned from a victory (Judges 11:29-40). I had to look up the exact passage but I knew the story. He was a judge in Israel and appears to have been well off. He could have spared (literally redeemed) his daughter (and himself) from his foolish vow for thirty shekels of silver (Leviticus 27:4)! Ten shekels if she was between five and twenty years old (Leviticus 27:5)! In this context, the story takes an ominous tone about a foolish man running his mouth and having too much pride to admit his foolishness. We are a fallen people and God knows we will make promises we can't, and sometimes shouldn't, keep. That is why Jesus counsels us to let our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no'. Anything beyond that comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37).

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Numbers 1-2


Conrad said...

When I break your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. - Leviticus 26:26

This verse reminded me that our individual efforts without God are not fulfilling.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Thanks so much for connecting this passage with the one of Jephthah and his daughter. I don't think I've ever seen them connected before.

Definitely a good reminder to think before we speak!

Pamela said...

Interesting connection between Jephthah and his daughter! I think it's so important to watch what we say and make sure what we are saying is not foolish. There's a wise saying that says that "words spoken cannot be forgotten only forgiven" and I think that it so true. I think especially true for us as parents because our kids will remember the hurtful things we may say in anger or frustration and those words can only be forgiven but will echo in their minds always.