Leviticus 26-27: Confounded and Confined, but Content

I am wrung out like a washcloth over today’s Bible reading.  I know that the Lord’s commands are for our good, but I think there must be something about Jewish culture that I am missing.  When I read Leviticus 27:29, my heart skipped a beat.  What does it really mean?

28 “However, anything specially set apart for the Lord—whether a person, an animal, or family property—must never be sold or bought back. Anything devoted in this way has been set apart as holy, and it belongs to the Lord. 29 No person specially set apart for destruction may be bought back. Such a person must be put to death.

I thought human sacrifice was abhorrent to the Lord?

In verse 28, the Lord says that any person specially set aside for him must never be sold or bought back.  Earlier verses in the chapter seem to indicate that a person could dedicate another person to the Lord by paying a set dollar amount for him or her to the priest.  The amount varied according to the person’s age and sex.

So what happened to those people who were dedicated to the Lord?  Samuel’s mother dedicated him to the service of the Lord, and he lived with the priests and learned how to be a priest.  But the Hebrew word used in 1 Samuel 11 is nathan, and it means dedicated.  The word used in Leviticus 27:29 is charam, and it means “to be put under the ban, to be devoted to destruction.”

Some internet commentaries I have come across have suggested that these verses are referring to people who have sinned and are under the punishment of death.  I don’t find anything in the context that implies that these who have been “devoted to the Lord” are under any sort of punishment.

However, the Lord did call for cities inhabited by idol worshippers to be “utterly devoted,” or destroyed.  So perhaps this word charam was used in the same context.

Application of these verses is difficult and humbling as I realize that no amount of internet searching or cross referencing will give me complete wisdom in these and other matters.  Wisdom comes from the Lord alone.  So I must content myself with not knowing what is really meant by these words because I just can’t fathom the Lord allowing his special people to sacrifice each other on a mere whim or desire.  He is God.  He is the very meaning of holiness and righteousness.  And, like a child who has to be content with a mother’s “I’ll tell you when you’re older,” in response to a question, I must rest in the knowledge of Who I am in Christ.

God is not limited within the confines of my understanding.

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