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In the Gates

The Valuation Offering

The First Commandment

No other gods


Leviticus 27.1-8

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the LORD involving the valuation of persons, then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels. If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver. And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.”

2 Kings 12.4-8

This “valuation” may have been for the purpose of making a contribution or offering in the name of an entire family. Perhaps such special offerings were required from time to time, as in 2 Kings 12.4-8, for urgent repairs to the temple, or emergency needs among the prices. Well, how much would be appropriate? Well, not just anything. Remember, offerings have an element of sacrifice attached to them, so these various standards of valuation would have ensured that such an offering would truly mean something.

It’s not clear why there are different standards of valuation for different people. It may have something to do with their role in the family structure or clan. Poor people who could not rise to the level of these standards, but who felt a need to make such a vow or offering, could present themselves to the priest and he would determine what was appropriate to give.


This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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