Leviticus 27: An Odd Way To End

Well now, this is funny.

When I started this project, Leviticus was the book I thought was going to give me the most trouble. Nobody EVER makes it through Leviticus! Leviticus is where “read through the Bible in a year” plans go to die.

But I made it. I made it all the way through!

And not only that, I found Leviticus to be very enjoyable. It was interesting. It was compelling. It was confusing. It was frustrating. It was challenging.

But it was never boring.

(Free tip: take your time with Leviticus. Give it a shot. It’s worth it. I promise)

Perhaps the strangest thing about studying Leviticus was how much great material I was able to write. Not once did I struggle very long to figure out how to present what I read in the chapter.

Until now.

Leviticus 27 is baffling to me. I read it in several different translations and looked at a background commentary but I still couldn’t really make heads or tails of it. At least not in any way I found interesting.

I think the chapter basically boiled down to this: When you commit stuff to the LORD, be prepared to pay a hefty price to get it back . . . that is, if we let you have it back.

And that was pretty much it. I think. I could have totally missed something crucial. Let me know if you find it.

A Strange Ending

Is it just me or does this seem like a really odd way to end the book?

I think someone got their chapters all mixed up. Chapter 27 should have come after chapter 25. Then chapter 26 (the original one) should have been the ending.

Why do I think that?

Well, chapter 25 was about the Jubilee year and how to redeem certain things or people. Chapter 27 was about redeeming things and had a lot to say about the year of Jubilee.

Chapter 26 was about the consequences of obedience and disobedience. So, to me, that feels like it should come at the end.

Who put it together like that? I mean, seriously!

Though, if I am a good inductive Bible Studier, the better question to ask would be, “Why did they put it together like that?”

Next Time on, “The Whole Dang Thing.”

A couple things that I read in chapter 26 got me thinking. It got a couple of big ideas swirling around in my head.

These ideas have the potential to reframe everything I have read in the Bible so far. I’m going to do my best to share them with you tomorrow.

Until then . . . um, keep on truckin’!


7 responses

  1. Gods way of giving the sh*t sandwhich??
    In really enjoyed Leviticus, my hubby had more trouble when he was coming through it than I did. I saw the romance in it- he thought I was mad haha. although he’s powering through the new testament now nearly fully through and will be back at leviticus ion no time again – I told him the same thing you’rw saying… take your time with it, its worth really reading and not just scanning. Its a book I too will come back to time and time again.
    Enjoyed all your narratives the way through!

    • It also may be worth it to slow down as you type your responses. 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I think powering through stuff is fine as long as you go back through it slowly. The quick run through can give you a sense of the big picture so you know what to look for the next time.

  2. Hi there,
    Enjoyed your take on Leviticus, but I can’t help noticing that–like most commentators–you gloss over some of the difficult questions. For example, what about the system of slavery outlined in Leviticus 25? As a form of protection for poor Israelites, it makes sense in a culturally relativistic way. But foreigners–infidels, if you will–are condemned to slavery in perpetuity. You can be relativistic about this too, possibly noting that the practices of neighboring cultures were much harsher (if they were.) Or one can take the bleeding heart liberal Protestant POV and say that the Bible contains the Word of God, but also a lot of historically conditioned cultural detritus that no longer applies to us. The third option of course is to take the Reconstructionist/Christian Taliban approach and say that it all still applies just as written, and modern PC sensibilities can go hang. I find the first two inadequate, and the last one personally distasteful, by which I mean abhorrent.

    Do you have a fourth option? We are studying Leviticus in my Bible study class at church. I hope you are still monitoring this, and I hope I am not coming off as adversarial. You probably won’t be replying in time to help us, but I look forward to your thoughts anyway. Cheers.

    • Hi Alan (? I’m guessing that from your email.)

      Thanks for the question. Out of curiosity, what is your spiritual or church background?

      I’m not sure what the best, most eloquent way to respond is, so let me just give you some bullet points to different questions.

      – I know I can’t get to everything in the Bible. Sometimes I choose to deal with the hard stuff (read some of my posts in Judges!) and sometimes I focus on the things that pleasantly surprise me in a good way. For Leviticus 25, I focused on the surprising parts. – I’m not sure what the absolute best way to interpret those verses is. Here’s what I can tell you: We are not bound to the OT law because of Jesus, though Jesus calls us to the higher law of the Gospel and Love. That verse in Lev 25 is disturbing, no doubt about it. I can see it being used to justify international slave trading. However, just a few verses before, God tells his people to treat poor Israelites like they would foreigners and aliens, with kindness. And the arc of the Old Testament bends towards welcoming the foreigners. So we get this awful permission with slaves while the same book subverts and undercuts it. Again, not sure what to do with that. – I think it’s awesome that you are studying Leviticus. I have often said Leviticus is where “Read the Bible in a Year” plans go to die! I don’t know if this would interest you, but you can always ask the question, if this is appropriate in your church, how do we read this in light of Jesus? how does our understanding of this passage change because of the Gospel? I realize that I don’t do that on the blog, but that wasn’t my goal setting out.

      I hope that helps. Again, thanks for the comment and the question. And I hope your study is fruitful and transformational!


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