Can you help me? I don’t understand this chapter on redemption and who is paying who. I understand voluntary vows made as persons, property, animals are consecrated to the Lord, but I am having trouble understanding why the valuations and who is paying who?
There are times people make promises to God to show gratitude to Him when things go well. For example, "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You" " (Genesis 28:20-22). Such dedicated items are considered "burnt offerings." In other words, they are completely given to God and cannot be used by the person again. Not all burnt offerings are actually burnt and not all offerings are things God would accept, so Leviticus 27 deals with offerings that cannot be sacrificed to God.
Offerings of People (Leviticus 27:3-8)
If a person vows another person, say a servant or a child or even himself, then we have a problem -- human sacrifices are not allowed. Thus, the priest sets a price for the person who was vowed, and the vower must redeem (buy back) his sacrifice at the amount set by the priest. If he can't afford to buy back the person, then the vower takes the place of his offering and he is valued. The implication is that if he can't redeem himself, then he is sold as a slave to pay off his debt.
Offerings of Animals (Leviticus 27:9-13)
Clean animals are not redeemable, since they can be used in sacrifices. And if the vower tries to substitute his vowed animal with an inferior one, he loses both animals to God.
If the vowed animal is an unclean animal, then it will be valued by the priest. The vower then has the option of buying the animal back at the price of the value set by the priest plus 20%.
Offerings of Property (Leviticus 27:14-23)
Houses are valued by the priest and the vower has the option of buying it back at the value set by the priest plus 20%.
Land valuations are more complex. The base price is set at how much barley seed is needed to plant a field the size of the land offered. Since all land reverts back to the original owners in the year of Jubilee in order to keep the land within the original tribe, then the land's price is proportionally reduced by the number of years until the next Jubilee. The vower has the option to buy back the land for the value set by the priest plus 20%. Note that the land is still allowed to be used by the vower in the meantime.
If the vower sells the land without redeeming it, then he can't later try to redeem it.
If the land is not redeemed by the time the Jubilee year comes, then the land becomes God's and is given to the priests.
If someone vows land that he has rented until the next Jubilee (no land can be permanently sold), then the vower owes the valuation set by the priest for land and it is due on the Jubilee year. The implication is that if the vower doesn't have the money, then he is sold off into slavery to pay off his debt. The land, however, returns to the original owners.
Devoted to Destruction (Leviticus 28:28-29)
There is a second level of offerings where the offerer completely gives something over to God. These offerings cannot be redeemed. Another name for this is to place something under a ban. For example, God designated that Jericho would be completely given to Him, so nothing in Jericho could be taken or bought back from God (Joshua 6:17).
Tithes (Leviticus 28:30-33)
Tithes can be redeemed at 20% above the value of the tithe. Tithing is done by randomly selecting every tenth item. It doesn't matter if the item is high or low quality. Whatever is selected goes to God and cannot be exchanged. If a person tries to exchange something selected for the tithe, both items become God's and cannot be redeemed.
Therefore, if your best breeding ewe got selected for the tithe, then you can keep the ewe by paying 120% of the price of a ewe. However, you cannot say, "Here, take this other ewe instead."