December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- The LORD said to Moses,
- "Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When anyone fulfills a vow of offering one or more persons to the LORD, who are to be ransomed at a fixed sum of money,
- for persons between the ages of twenty and sixty, the fixed sum, in sanctuary shekels, shall be fifty silver shekels for a man,
- and thirty shekels for a woman;
- for persons between the ages of five and twenty, the fixed sum shall be twenty shekels for a youth, and ten for a maiden;
- for persons between the ages of one month and five years, the fixed sum shall be five silver shekels for a boy, and three for a girl;
- for persons of sixty or more, the fixed sum shall be fifteen shekels for a man, and ten for a woman.
- However, if the one who took the vow is too poor to meet the fixed sum, the person must be set before the priest, who shall determine the sum for his ransom in keeping with the means of the one who made the vow.
- "If the offering vowed to the LORD is an animal that may be sacrificed, every such animal, when vowed to the LORD, becomes sacred.
- The offerer shall not present a substitute for it by exchanging either a better for a worse one or a worse for a better one. If he attempts to offer one animal in place of another, both the original and its substitute shall be treated as sacred.
- If the animal vowed to the LORD is unclean and therefore unfit for sacrifice, it must be set before the priest,
- 1 who shall determine its value in keeping with its good or bad qualities, and the value set by the priest shall stand.
- If the offerer wishes to redeem the animal, he shall pay one fifth more than this valuation.
- "When someone dedicates his house as sacred to the LORD, the priest shall determine its value in keeping with its good or bad points, and the value set by the priest shall stand.
- If the one who dedicated his house wishes to redeem it, he shall pay one fifth more than the price thus established, and then it will again be his.
- "If the object which someone dedicates to the LORD is a piece of his hereditary land, its valuation shall be made according to the amount of seed required to sow it, the acreage sown with a homer of barley seed being valued at fifty silver shekels.
- If the dedication of a field is made at the beginning of a jubilee period, the full valuation shall hold;
- but if it is some time after this, the priest shall estimate its money value according to the number of years left until the next jubilee year, with a corresponding rebate on the valuation.
- If the one who dedicated his field wishes to redeem it, he shall pay one fifth more than the price thus established, and so reclaim it.
- If, instead of redeeming such a field, he sells it to someone else, it may no longer be redeemed;
- but at the jubilee it shall be released as sacred to the LORD; like a field that is doomed, it shall become priestly property.
- "If the field that some man dedicates to the LORD is one he had purchased and not a part of his hereditary property,
- the priest shall compute its value in proportion to the number of years until the next jubilee, and on the same day the price thus established shall be given as sacred to the LORD;
- at the jubilee, however, the field shall revert to the hereditary owner of this land from whom it had been purchased.
- "Every valuation shall be made according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel. There are twenty gerahs to the shekel.
- "Note that a first-born animal, which as such already belongs to the LORD, may not be dedicated by vow to him. If it is an ox or a sheep, it shall be ceded to the LORD;
- 2 but if it is an unclean animal, it may be redeemed by paying one fifth more than its fixed value. If it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at its fixed value.
- "Note, also, that any one of his possessions which a man vows as doomed to the LORD, whether it is a human being or an animal or a hereditary field, shall be neither sold nor ransomed; everything that is thus doomed becomes most sacred to the LORD.
- 3 All human beings that are doomed lose the right to be redeemed; they must be put to death.
- "All tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields or in fruit from the trees, belong to the LORD, as sacred to him.
- If someone wishes to buy back any of his tithes, he shall pay one fifth more than their value.
- The tithes of the herd and the flock shall be determined by ceding to the LORD as sacred every tenth animal as they are counted by the herdsman's rod.
- It shall not matter whether good ones or bad ones are thus chosen, and no exchange may be made. If any exchange is attempted, both the original animal and its substitute shall be treated as sacred, without the right of being bought back."
- These are the commandments which the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.
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1  Determine its value: fix the price at which the animal may be sold to someone else. Only the original owner must pay the twenty percent tax, as a penalty for buying back what he had vowed to God. So also for houses and fields that are vowed to the Lord, as treated of in the following verses. The money from the sale or from the redemption of such vowed property naturally goes to the sanctuary.
2  An unclean animal: such as the first-born of an ass, which was unfit for sacrifice. According to Exodus 13:13; 34:20, a first-born ass was to be redeemed by offering a sheep in its stead, or was to have its neck broken. The present law is probably a later modification of the earlier one.
3  All human beings that are doomed: according to some interpreters, this signifies the idolatrous Canaanites, who were doomed to destruction by divine authority; according to others, this drastic law was enacted for the purpose of discouraging private persons from rashly vowing their slaves or other dependents as offerings to God. Cf Exodus 22:19; Deut 13:13-19.
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