Bekhukotai–How to Donate Yourself

“When a person vows the equivalent of a human being . . . ”  (Lev. 27:2)

Leviticus concludes in a grand manner at the end of chapter 26.  Chapter 27 constitutes an appendix on fundraising through the consecration of persons, animals, houses, land, etc.  The goal was “to secure silver for the sanctuary and its related needs, not, for the most part, to secure the actual commodities that were pledged or consecrated.” (Levine)

Using this system, one could vow to “give” oneself or a member of one’s household to the sanctuary, and fulfill the vow by paying a certain amount of silver.  This harkens back to the ancient custom of dedicating oneself, or one’s child, to temple service. In 1 Samuel 1 we read that Hannah vowed at the sanctuary of Shiloh that if God granted her a son she would bring him to Shiloh, where he would remain in service all his days. When Samuel was born to her, she, indeed, devoted him in this way. Pledging the equivalent of one’s life, according to a scale established by the priesthood, served two ends: the spirit of the ancient tradition was satisfied, and, in practical terms, the sanctuary received necessary funds.

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