Leviticus: *Worship the *LORD in the Beauty of *Holiness

Special Events in the *Jewish Calendar

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Leviticus chapters 23 to 27


Gordon Churchyard

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible, except for the words in brackets (…).

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


Go to: Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27

Chapter 23

Special Days in the *Jewish Calendar

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “The *LORD has decided that you must have special times to give honour to him. You must announce these special days. They are holy days, when the *Israelites should meet (to *worship God).

v3 You must do your work for 6 days. But you must rest on the 7th day. You must not do any work (on the 7th day). It is the *Sabbath Day. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must gather together on the *Sabbath Day with the *LORD, wherever you are living.

v4 These are the special days that the *LORD wants you to have. You should meet (to *worship God) on these holy days. You must announce (these days) at the right time.

v5 (The first special day is) the *LORD’s *Passover. It will be on the 14th day of the first month. It begins at the time when the sun sets.

v6 On the 15th day of this (same) month is the *LORD’s special Time of *Unleavened Bread. You must eat this *unleavened bread for 7 days.

v7 On the first (of these) days, you must gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not do any of your usual work (on this day).

v8 You must offer gifts by fire to the *LORD for 7 days. On the 7th (of these) days, you must gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). And you must not do any of your usual work.” ’

v9 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v10 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “(Soon) you will come to the land that I will give to you. When you gather its (First) Harvest, you must bring some of the *first fruits of the corn to the priest.

v11 He will wave these *first fruits in front of the *LORD so that (the *LORD) will accept them on your behalf. On the day after the *Sabbath, the priest will wave them (for you).

v12 When you wave the *first fruits of the corn, you must also offer a male sheep to the *LORD. It must be one year old and perfect. It will be a *whole offering (to the *LORD).

v13 (With the sheep, give) a mixture of 4½ litres of good flour and *oil as the *corn offering. It is a gift to the *LORD (that the priests will offer) by fire. It has a smell that pleases the *LORD. The *offering of drink that is with it must contain a litre of wine.

v14 You must not eat any bread until the day when you bring this *offering to your God. Neither must you eat fresh corn or corn that you have cooked. This rule will always be important for all your *descendants wherever they live.

v15 You must count 7 complete weeks (until *Pentecost; Second Harvest) from the day after (this) *Sabbath. That is, (from the day) when you brought the *first fruits of the corn. (The priest) waved them in front of the *LORD.

v16 You must count 50 days until the day after the 7th *Sabbath. Then you must give a new *corn offering to the *LORD.

v17 From the places where you live, you must bring two loaves of bread for the *LORD. (The priest) must wave them as *first fruits (in front of the *LORD). You must make the loaves with 4½ litres of good flour. You will bake (the loaves) with *yeast.

v18 Also, with the bread, you must offer 7 young male sheep. They must be one year old and perfect. (You must also offer) one young *bull and two male sheep. They will be a *whole offering to the *LORD that you offer by fire. With the *offering of corn and drink, the smell of this *offering will please the *LORD.

v19 You must also offer one male goat. This will be a *sin offering. And you must offer two male sheep that are one year old. This will be a *peace offering.

v20 The priest will (lift them up) with the corn that is just ripe. (He will) wave them in front of the *LORD. It is a *wave offering. (He will) offer the two young sheep. They will be holy to the *LORD; they will belong to the priest.

v21 You must declare on the day itself (what day it is). It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not do any of your usual work. This rule will always be important for all your *descendants, wherever they live.

v22 When you gather the harvest from your fields, you must not gather completely from the corners of your fields. And do not gather the fruits that you leave behind. You must leave them for poor people and for foreigners. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’


v23 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v24 ‘Speak to the *Israelites (and say this to them). “On the first day of the 7th month, you must have a special day when you rest. The (Day of) *Trumpets will remind people (that this is a special day). It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God).

v25 You must not do any of your usual work. You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire.” ’


v26 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v27 ‘Also, on the 10th day of the 7th month is the Day of *Atonement. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not eat food. You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire.

v28 You must not do any work on this day, because it is the Day of *Atonement. (On this day, (the chief priest) will make *atonement for you in front of the *LORD your God.

v29 (The *LORD) will *cut off from the people (the *Israelites) anybody who eats food on this day.

v30 I will cause any of (the *Israelites) who works on this day to die.

v31 You must not do any work (on the Day of *Atonement). This rule will always be important for all your *descendants, wherever they live.

v32 (This day) is (like) an important *Sabbath for you, when you must rest. You must not eat food. On the evening of the 9th day of this month, until the next evening, will be your *Sabbath.’


v33 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v34 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “On the 15th day of the 7th month is the time for Tent Parties. (You must live) for 7 days (in tents) for the *LORD.

v35 The first of these days is a special day. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). (On this day) you must not do any of your usual work.

v36 You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire for 7 days. On the 8th day, you must all gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire. It is a special time and a time for a holy meeting. (On this day) you must not do any of your usual work.

v37 These are the special times that the *LORD wants you to have (each year). You will announce that they are special times. Tell people that they must meet (to *worship God) at these holy times. They must offer (these) gifts by fire to the *LORD: *whole offerings, *corn offerings, *sacrifices and drink *offerings. You must offer the correct *offerings for each day.

v38 Also, you must give (special) *offerings for the *LORD’s *Sabbaths. And you may offer your own special gifts and *offerings to the *LORD. These include when you make a special promise (to the *LORD).

v39 So, on the 15th day of the 7th month, you must give honour to the *LORD for 7 days. You must do this when you have gathered the (final) Harvest from your fields. The 1st and 8th days must be special days when you rest.

v40 On the first of these days, you must take fruit from splendid trees. (You must take) branches from *palm trees and from trees with many leaves. You must take (branches from) *willow trees (that grow) by the river. You must be happy in front of the *LORD (who is) your God for 7 days.

v41 You must have a happy party with the *LORD for 7 days in each year. All your *descendants must always do it in the 7th month.

v42 You must live for 7 days in tents that you make from tree branches. All the *Israelites must live in these special tents.

v43 This will tell your *descendants (what happened many years ago). I made the *Israelites live in special tents when I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’


v44 Moses told all the *Israelites about the *LORD’s special times.


This chapter contains a list of the holy days for the *Jewish people. They include the important *Jewish holidays which are usually in April, June and October. And there is the *Sabbath Day, which is in every week through the whole year.

All of these holy days and special times are still important for the *Jews today.

Special Time

Date in our Calendar

Bible reference

*Sabbath Day

7th day of every week (our Saturday)

Genesis 2:2-3

Exodus 20:8-11

Leviticus 23:2-3

Numbers 28:9-10


The day of the full moon, in March or April

Exodus chapter 12

Leviticus 23:5

Numbers 28:16-25

Deuteronomy 16:2

*Unleavened Bread

The week after the *Passover

Exodus 23:14-17

Leviticus 23:6

First Harvest

During the week of *Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:9-14

Second Harvest (*Pentecost)

(Also called Shavuoth.)

50 days after the *Passover (so, during May or June)

Exodus 23:16

Leviticus 23:15-22

Leviticus 25:8-9

Numbers 28:26-31

Day of *Trumpets

(Also called Rosh Hashana or the *Jewish New Year’s Day).

The day of the new moon before the Tent Parties and Final Harvest (during September or October)

Leviticus 23:23-25

Numbers 29:1-6

Day of *Atonement

(Also called Yom Kippur)

9 days after the Day of *Trumpets

Leviticus chapter 16

Leviticus 23:26-32

Numbers 29:7-11

Tent Parties and Final Harvest

(Also called Tabernacles, Sukkoth, or the Feast of Shelters)

6 months after the *Passover (so, during September or October)

Leviticus 23:33-43

Numbers 29:12-38

Deuteronomy 16:13

Here are some notes on each of these special times.

Verses 2-3 The *Sabbath. This is the 7th day of the week, our Saturday. The word ‘*sabbath’ means ‘day of rest’. It is a special opportunity for God’s people to *worship him each week. In Genesis 2:3, God made the *Sabbath (or 7th day) very special. After he created the world, he himself rested on that day. When the *Jews went from Egypt to *Israel, God provided their food. He gave them a special, extra amount of the food called manna before each *Sabbath, Exodus 16:22-30. He did that so that they were able to rest and to *worship him on the *Sabbath. So they did not even have to make food or to collect food on the *Sabbath. (Manna was something like bread that God sent from heaven.)

The *Jews could only do simple jobs on the *Sabbath. They could not do any of their usual work whatever. It was their special day to *worship God. They rested from their work so that they had time to *worship him.

Most Christians *worship God on the 1st day of the week, that is, Sunday. They do this because Jesus became alive after his death on a Sunday. That is why many Christians keep Sunday as a *Sabbath. They do not work on this day. Instead, it is their special day for rest and *worship.

Verses 4-5 The *Passover. This was a most important time for the *Jews. It was during March or April. In it, the *Jews remembered the event just before God freed them from Egypt.

God allowed a terrible trouble to happen in Egypt. We call that event ‘the 10th *plague’. The oldest son in every family in Egypt died, in just one night. But God told each *Israelite family to kill a *lamb and to put its blood round their door. When God saw the blood, he would ‘pass over’ that house. That is why the day was called the *Passover. On that day, God saved the *Israelites from death (Exodus chapter 12).

The *Passover is important for Christians, as well as *Jews. But Christians call it ‘Easter’. Jesus died on the Friday before Easter day. The Bible calls Jesus: ‘the *lamb of God, who takes away the *sins of the world.’ On Easter Sunday, Jesus became alive again after his death.

Verses 6-8 The Time of *Unleavened Bread. People usually add *yeast to bread to make it ‘rise’. They do this before they cook it. ‘*Unleavened’ means that there is no *yeast in the bread. Thus, it does not ‘rise’ or ‘get bigger’. Bread that does not rise is flat.

At the Time of *Unleavened Bread, the *Jews remember the events immediately after the first *Passover. God led them out of Egypt at once. He did it so quickly that there was not even enough time for their bread to rise. They had to work hard like slaves when they lived in Egypt. But God made them free at once. That was the time when the *Jews became a nation.

Verses 9-14 The First Harvest. There are several types of grain. The first one that becomes ripe in Israel is called barley. Ruth 1:22 tells us that Naomi returned home ‘at the start of the barley harvest’. The priest had to hold up (or wave, verse 11) a bundle of barley plants in front of the *LORD. This was also called a ‘*wave offering’. It was God who provided all the crops in the *Israelites’ new country. God gave them that country after they left Egypt. And that country (Canaan, afterwards called Israel) had good land. So, by this ceremony, the *Israelites gave the first grain of each harvest back to God. And with it, they gave a *whole offering (chapter 1) and a *corn offering (chapter 2).

Verses 15-21 *Pentecost and the Second Harvest. The word ‘*Pentecost’ means ‘50th’. If we include the first and last days, this means 7 weeks. Here, the harvest is for grain that we call wheat. People use it to make bread. *Pentecost was a special occasion at the beginning of the wheat harvest. Again, it reminded people that their food came from God.

*Pentecost is very important for Christians. They sometimes call it ‘the church’s birthday’. It was on the day called *Pentecost that God sent his *Holy Spirit. You can read about that event in Acts chapter 2.

Verse 22 The *Israelites should not just thank God for their harvest by means of a ceremony. Also, they should thank God by means of the way that they harvested their crops. They should leave some food in the fields so that poor people and foreigners would find something to eat. They should always remember to provide for poor people. Ruth 2:7-8 describes how people did this.

Verses 23-25 Day of *Trumpets. Today we make *trumpets from a metal called brass. And we use them to make music. The *Jews did not use brass. They made their *trumpets from the *horns of animals like cows. *Horns grow on the heads of these animals. Numbers 10:1-10 also mentions silver *trumpets. The *Jews used the *trumpets to sound an alarm. Also, they sounded *trumpets on any important national occasion.

The Day of *Trumpets was at the beginning of the 7th month in the *Jewish calendar. As the 7th day of the week was special and holy, so was the 7th month. The Day of *Atonement, Tent Parties and Final Harvest happened during this month. The *trumpets reminded people about these things:

The *trumpets should remind the *Israelites that, in the future, God will rule his people as their king. Each year, God dealt with his people’s *sins on the Day of *Atonement. But at a future time, God will deal with all *sin. He will come to live among his people.

For Christians, this should remind them about Jesus’ return. He has promised to come back to this world. He will overcome *sin, death, and the devil’s power. And Jesus will rule with the authority and power of God the Father.

Verses 26-32 The Day of *Atonement. Leviticus chapter 16 tells us what the chief priest did on the Day of *Atonement. He put blood into the most holy place, as a special *sacrifice, so that God would forgive the people’s *sins.

Here we read what the ordinary people did. The words ‘to *atone’ mean ‘to make at one’. (In other words, to be united as friends with God.) It was the day when people were sorry for their *sins. They saw their *sins as God saw them. They were ‘at one’ with God, in other words, they agreed with his opinion. Christians believe that *atonement can only happen by the death of Jesus. His death means that now we do not have to offer the gifts in the Book of Leviticus.

Verses 27, 29 and 32 contain the rule that the *Jews must not eat on this day. In fact, the *Hebrew words are much stricter than what appears in our translation. People should not do anything to give themselves pleasure. See our notes on 16:29-31.

This day is not usually a Saturday, so it would not normally be a *Sabbath. But the *LORD told the people that it would be a day for rest, like the *Sabbaths (verse 32).

Verses 33-43 Tent Parties and Final Harvest. This was the time when the *Jews gathered the last of the harvest from the fields and gardens. They also remembered that God had ‘gathered’ them at last from Egypt. They lived in tents as they went from Egypt to *Israel. To remember this, they lived in shelters or tents for a week during September or October. But they did not make their ‘tents’ for this week from animal skins, as people usually did. Instead, they used the branches of trees to make ‘tents’ (that is, shelters). That is why verse 40 refers to various trees, like the *palm tree and the *willow. This time became a really happy party. The *LORD will complete all that he is doing for his people. And that is a wonderful reason to be joyful in front of the *LORD.

For Christians, the harvest is a very important occasion. It is the time when Christians thank God for their food. But each church chooses a different day in Autumn for this event. Many churches put fruit, food and flowers in the church and they have a happy ceremony. They thank God for all the good things that he provides. Afterwards, Christians take the fruit, food, and flowers away. They give these things to poor people, to ill people, or to old people who live near the church. So Christians share the good things that God has given to them.

Jesus told some parables (stories) about the harvest. For him, the harvest described well the events at the end of the present age. For example, see the story in Matthew 13:24-30, which Jesus explained in Matthew 13:36-40. He described how weeds and wheat may grow together in the same field until the harvest. But at the harvest, the farmer separates them. He destroys the weeds and he saves the wheat. And so, at the end of the age, God will be the judge of everyone. He will save the people who belong to him. But he will punish the people who serve the devil.

Something to do

1. Read Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, which tells us about the origin of the *Sabbath. Here are some other verses about the *Sabbath: Numbers 28:9 and 28:19; Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 15:32-36; Nehemiah 10:31 and 13:15-22.

2. Read the Book of Ruth, which refers to the First and Second Harvests of grain.

3. Read Exodus chapter 12, which tells us about the first *Passover.

4. Read Acts 2:1-4. It tells us what happened at *Pentecost to the first Christians.

Chapter 24

Rules about God’s table and *blasphemy

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Tell (this) to the *Israelites. “You must bring pure *oil for the lamps (in God’s house). You must press the fruit called olives to make the *oil. Then the lamps will burn all the time (and they will not go out).

v3 Aaron must look after (the lamps) from evening until (the next morning). He must do it in front of the *LORD all the time. (These are the lamps) in the *meeting tent. They are outside the curtain which is in the *meeting tent. This is a rule for all your *descendants.

v4 Aaron must look after the lamps which are on a pure gold *lampholder. They must burn in front of the *LORD at all times.


v5 You must use the best flour and you must bake 12 loaves with it. You must use 4½ litres (of flour) for each loaf.

v6 You must put (the loaves) in two rows. (There must be) 6 in each row. (You must put them) on the table of pure gold in front of the *LORD.

v7 In each row, you must put pure *frankincense. It is (your) gift by fire to the *LORD. The *frankincense, which you burn, is a reminder of the bread.

v8 Every *Sabbath Day, (the priest) must always arrange it in front of the *LORD. It is from the *Israelites. It is an agreement that will never end.

v9 (These loaves) belong to Aaron and to his sons. They must eat them in a holy place, because they are most holy. It is their part of the *offerings that people give to the *LORD by fire. This is a rule that must continue for all time.” ’


v10 Now, there was a man whose mother was an *Israelite woman. His father was an *Egyptian. This (woman’s son) came (into the camp) of the *Israelites. Then the *Israelite woman’s son and (another) *Israelite began to quarrel in the camp.

v11 Then the son of the *Israelite woman said something bad against (the *LORD’s) name. It was a *blasphemy. They brought the man to Moses. This man’s mother was called Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri. She came from the *tribe called Dan.

v12 The (*Israelites) locked the man in a prison. They did not know what the *LORD wanted them to do with the man.

v13 Then the *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v14 ‘Take the man who said the *blasphemy outside the camp. Everybody who heard him must put their hands onto his head. After this, all the people must throw stones at him (until he dies).

v15 Say this to the *Israelites. “Whoever says bad things against his God is responsible for his *sin.

v16 You must kill anybody who says bad things against the name of the *LORD. All the people must throw stones at him (until he is dead). Anyone, whether he is a foreigner or an (*Israelite), must die. This is if he says bad things against the name (of the *LORD).

v17 Anyone may perhaps hit and kill someone (on purpose). The people must kill that person.

v18 Someone may hit an animal and kill it. He must give a life for a life. He must replace it.

v19 Someone may cause an injury to another person. You must do to that man what he did to the other person.

v20 It will be damage for damage, and eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. As he did to the other person, (you must) do to him.

v21 Anyone who kills (someone else’s) animal must replace it. Anyone who kills a person must die.

v22 You must have the same law for foreigners and for (*Israelites). This is because I am the *LORD your God.” ’

v23 So Moses spoke to the *Israelites. Then they took away the man who had spoken *blasphemy. They threw stones at him outside the camp (until he was dead). So the *Israelites did what the *LORD had ordered Moses to do.


Verses 2-4 The *lampholder, which held the lamps in God’s house, had 7 branches. This means that there were 7 lamps on it. The *oil is from a plant called the olive. People would burn it to provide light. These rules are also in Exodus 27:20-21. They pressed the *oil with their hands. This means that it was very pure. It did not make much smoke.

Verses 5-9 Exodus 25:30 refers to the special bread. Only the priests could eat this special bread, Matthew 12:4. We call it the ‘show bread’ because it ‘shows’ various things.

·  It ‘shows’ that there were 12 *tribes (or large families) in *Israel. So it showed that God was with his people.

·  The *frankincense reminded (or ‘showed’) people what God had done for them. *Frankincense is a sticky material that people get from trees. It has a sweet smell.

·  They made the bread from the best flour. People must do everything as well as they can for God.

The priests put the bread on the table each *Sabbath Day. The *Sabbath Day was the 7th day of the week.

Verses 10-12 The word ‘*blasphemy’ means ‘a bad thing that someone says against God’. The *Israelites locked the man in a prison. Then they waited for the *LORD to say what to do with the man.

Verses 13-16 and 23 The *LORD said that the man must die. The people must take him outside the camp and they must kill him there. This meant that the camp itself remained *clean. So this is what the people did.

Verses 17-22 The law here means this. If someone does damage, he must undo the damage as far as possible. If a man kills another man on purpose, the killer must die. God did not allow a murderer to pay money in order to save his life (Numbers 35:31). But for other types of damage, the person who caused the damage must pay. So if a man kills an animal, he must give another animal to the owner.

Verse 20 contains a very important and well-known law. It is called ‘an eye for an eye’. When a person causes damage to someone else, he is responsible for it. So that person’s punishment must have a proper relationship to the damage that he caused.

Some Bible students think that the person responsible must suffer the same damage. For example, if the person damages someone else’s eye, his own eye must suffer damage. But *Jewish Bible students do not agree. They say that there is no record of any such punishment ever in *Jewish history. Numbers 35:31 shows that people paid money as a punishment (but not for murder). So ‘an eye for an eye’ really means this: There is a more severe punishment if the damage is worse. The punishment is less severe if the damage is minor. And the judge must deal with everyone alike, whether they are important or not.

Jesus referred to this law in Matthew 5:38-42. He explained it and he emphasised it. The purpose of the original law was to put a limit on the person’s punishment. But Jesus said that God’s people should not show cruelty, but kindness. They should want to forgive other people. And they should not even want all that they have a legal right to claim. Jesus said words that mean this: ‘You must not even fight back.’

Something to do

1. Read about Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-21. Notice verse 3, where the *LORD’s lamp is still burning. This house of God was in Shiloh, not in Jerusalem. The *LORD had several houses before the *Israelites built his house in Jerusalem.

2. Study these verses. Christians should be like a light at all times: Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15.

3. Read about the occasion when David and his soldiers ate the ‘show bread’, in 1 Samuel 21:1-7 and Mark 2:25-26.

Chapter 25

Special years in the *Jewish calendar

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses at the mountain (called) Sinai.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “Do this in the land (country) that I will give to you. (Allow) the land to have a *Sabbath for the *LORD.

v3 You will sow (seeds) in your fields for 6 years. You will look after your *vineyards and you will gather the fruits for 6 years.

v4 Then, in the 7th year, your land will have a rest. It will be a special *Sabbath for the *LORD. You will not sow (seeds in) your fields, nor work in your *vineyards.

v5 (During the 7th year,) you must not gather the crops that will grow without your efforts. You must not harvest *grapes from the *vines where you have not worked. The land must have a whole year of special rest.

v6 Whatever (food) the land gives to you in the *Sabbath Year will be food for you. Also, (it will be food) for your male and female servants. Also (it will be food) for the people whom you pay to work for you. And (it will be food) for the guest who stays with you.

v7 And (it will be food) for all the animals on your land, whether they are wild or tame. All that (the land) gives you will be (your) food.


v8 You will count 7 *sabbaths of years. This is 7 times 7 years. So 7 *sabbaths of years means 49 years.

v9 Then you will make a sound on the *trumpet. (You will do this) on the 10th day of the 7th month. You will make a sound on the *trumpet on the Day of *Atonement through all your country.

v10 You will declare that the 50th year is holy. You will announce freedom in your country to everybody who lives there. It will be a *Jubilee Year for you. Everybody will return to the property that belongs to his family. And each (one) of you will return to his family.

v11 It will be the *Jubilee Year for you, (that is,) the 50th year. You must not sow (seeds). You must not harvest what sows itself. You must not gather (*grapes) from the *vines where you have not worked.

v12 It is your *Jubilee Year, and it will be holy for you. (In it) you will eat what your fields produce.

v13 In the *Jubilee Year, everybody must return to his (family’s) property.

v14 You may sell property to someone in your country. Or you may buy (property) from someone in your country. If so, do not (use this rule to) make an (unfair) profit from each other.

v15 If you want to buy a man’s land, then count the number of years since the last *Jubilee Year. (Use that number to decide the right price). Remember this. He is only selling you the right to harvest the crops until the next *Jubilee Year.

v16 If there are a lot of years (before the next *Jubilee Year), then the price will be high. If there are only a few years (until the next *Jubilee Year), then the price will be lower. The man is only selling that number of harvests to you.

v17 You must not make (unfair) profits from each other, but you must give honour to God. (Remember) that I am the *LORD your God.

v18 Remember and obey (all) my laws and rules. Then (I will allow you) to remain safely in the land (the country called *Canaan).

v19 Then the land will produce (good) crops for you. You will have plenty to eat. You will live there safely.

v20 You might ask (these questions). ‘What shall we eat in the 7th year if we do not plant crops? What shall we eat if we do not gather the harvest?’

v21 I will be especially kind to you during the 6th year. (During that year,) the land will produce enough food for 3 years.

v22 When you plant (crops) during the 8th year, you will eat (food) from the old harvest. You will continue to eat (food) from the old harvest until the 9th year. Then there will be a new harvest.


v23 The land really belongs to me. So you cannot sell it permanently (to someone else). You will be like foreigners who rent my land.

v24 People might sell their land, but they will always get it back (in the *Jubilee Year). That is so across the whole country that you will receive as a possession.

v25 One of your brothers may become poor, (so that) he has to sell some of his property. Then, his closest relative must come to buy back (the property) that his brother has sold.

v26 But the man may have nobody to buy it back (for him). And, (later), he may earn enough money to buy back (the property).

v27 Then he must calculate its value for the years since he sold it. He must return the money to the person to whom he sold (the property). Then he can return to his property.

v28 But he may not gain enough money (to buy it back). Then, the buyer will keep the property until the *Jubilee Year. Then, in the *Jubilee Year, the man will get his property back. He can return to his own property.

v29 Someone may sell a house in a city that has walls (all round it). He has the right to buy it back for a year after its sale. But he can only buy it back during that year.

v30 If he does not buy it back in that year, then the house will always belong to the buyer. (The buyer) may give it to his *descendants. It will not belong again to the seller in the *Jubilee Year.

v31 However, if the house is in a village without walls all round it, then it is (like) a field. The seller can always buy it back. It will belong to him again in the *Jubilee Year.

v32 Some cities will belong to the *Levites. (If a *Levite sells) a house in such a city, he may buy it back at any time.

v33 Any one of the *Levites may do this. Also, a house in the city will again belong to the *Levites in the *Jubilee Year. That is because houses in the *Levites’ cities are their possession among the *Israelites.

v34 But they must not sell the fields outside their cities. These field must always be the possession (of the *Levites).


v35 One of your brothers may become poor so that he cannot provide (food for himself). You must help him as you would help a foreigner (in your country). Also (as you would help) someone with a temporary home among you. Then, (your poor brother) can continue to live among you.

v36 Do not charge him money for a loan. Respect your God’s (laws). Then your brother may continue to live among you.

v37 You must not lend him money and charge him for it. You must not sell him food and make a profit.

v38 I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I brought you out of (the country called) Egypt to give to you the country called *Canaan. (I did this so that) I would be your God.

v39 One of your brothers may become poor and he may sell himself to you. But you must not make him do the work of a slave.

v40 You must deal with him as a wage earner, or as a temporary worker. He must work for you until the *Jubilee Year.

v41 Then you must allow him and his children to become free again. He can return to his family and to the property that his father’s (family) owned.

v42 (Do this) because (the *Israelites) are my servants. I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. You must not sell them for the price of slaves.

v43 You must not rule them cruelly. You must respect your God.

v44 You must get your male and female slaves from the countries that surround you. You may buy male and female slaves from them.

v45 You may also buy (your slaves) from people who have temporary homes among you. Also, from their families who are among you and who have been born in your country. They will become your property.

v46 You may also give them to your children as their property (when you die). You may make them always to serve you. You may deal with them as slaves. But you must not rule over other *Israelites cruelly; they are like your brothers.


v47 A foreigner, or somebody who has a temporary home among you, may become rich. One of your brothers (who lives) near him may become poor. He may sell himself to the foreigner or to the person who has a temporary home among you. (He may sell himself) to a member of the foreigner’s family.

v48 (Your brother) still has the right to buy himself back after he has sold himself. Or one of his brothers may buy him back.

v49 Or his uncle or his cousin may buy him back. Or a relative from his larger family may buy him back. Or, if he does well, he may buy himself back.

v50 He and his owner must calculate the price of his sale. They must count the years from when he sold himself until the *Jubilee Year. They must calculate how much a worker would earn in that number of years. (So they must work out the price for his freedom.)

v51 But there may be many years (until the *Jubilee Year). Then the (brother) must give back a large part of the price. The amount will depend on the number of years.

v52 But only a few years may remain until the *Jubilee Year. Then, the (brother) must pay a small part of the original price.

v53 The foreigner must deal with your brother as a worker that he has hired each year. You must make sure that the foreigner does not rule (your brother) cruelly.

v54 But perhaps nobody buys him back in any of these ways. Then (your brother) must go free in the *Jubilee Year. Both he and his children must go free, v55 because the *Israelites are my servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of (the country called) Egypt. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’


This chapter continues the list of special times and days that began in Leviticus chapter 23. As well as *Sabbath Days, there must be *Sabbath Years. Also, after 7 *Sabbath Years, there must be a very special year on the 50th year. This is called a *Jubilee Year. All this is about freedom. On the 7th year, the land is free from seeds and harvests. On the 50th year, people are free. The idea of the *Jubilee Year reminds the *Jews of these things.

·  The *LORD had made them free from Egypt.

·  The land belonged to the *LORD, and the *Jews could not always own it.

·  The *Jews must trust God to provide their food.

·  The land itself must be free from seeds and harvests in some years.

So the *Jews had to prepare for *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years. They had to keep enough food for them. Life would be simple in the *Sabbath Years, as it was on the way from Egypt to *Israel. Most people would not live through more than one *Jubilee Year.

These rules about *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years help us to understand the real meaning of the *Sabbath. The *Sabbath is not only about a pause from our usual work. It is about the special time when we *worship God. And especially, it is about the rest and the freedom that God gives to his people (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Real Christians have already started to receive that rest and freedom (Matthew 11:28-30). But this is just the beginning. In the future, God will defeat all his enemies (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). And then he will establish his rule in the New Jerusalem. There God’s people will always have perfect rest and freedom as they *worship him (Revelation 21:1-5).

But only the people who really are God’s people will know that rest and freedom. The freedom that God gave in the *Jubilee Year was only for God’s people, the *Israelites. God gave them freedom because, as he said, ‘They are my servants’ – verses 42 and 55.

We do not know whether a proper *Jubilee Year has ever happened. The Bible does not mention any such occasion. The *Jubilee Year was part of God’s perfect plan for the *Israelites. But perhaps it will not happen until God has created the New Earth. Then he will live among his people. And all these things will be possible.

Verses 1-7 The *Sabbath Day was the 7th day in the week. It reminded people that God rested on the 7th day. This was after he had made everything. So the *Sabbath for the land was every 7th year. And it was a year when the land rested. In other words, people did not plant their usual crops. The agricultural workers did not do their usual work. People did not harvest and store crops from the land. So in this year, the people would have more time for rest and for *worship.

*Vineyards were the gardens where people produced fruit. The fruits were called *grapes. They grow on plants called *vines. People made wine from *grapes. The rule about the *Sabbath Year also included other fruits. The *Jews could eat any fruit that grew. But it must be fruit that they had not sown. This would remind them of their journey from Egypt. They could not gather crops during the *Sabbath Year. So ‘all that (the land) gives you’ means the food that they ate fresh from the fields. They could eat it immediately, but they could not store it.

Verses 8-13 The *trumpet is a musical instrument. Today, we make them out of a metal called brass. During Moses’ life, people made ‘*trumpets’ from the *horns of animals. These *horns grew on the animals’ heads. The *Hebrew word for these ‘*trumpets’ was ‘yobel’. We get our word ‘*jubilee’ from this *Hebrew word ‘yobel’. The *Jews could not harvest what grew in their fields that year (verse 11). They had to eat what grew in the year before the *Sabbath Year (verse 12).

The *Jubilee Year began on the Day of *Atonement (see Leviticus 23:26-32). So it began when God forgave his people’s *sins. And during that year, God gave freedom to all his people. They returned to the places where their families lived. If they had sold their family’s land, God gave the land back to them again. God was making these things right again. And this should remind us that, in the future, God will make everything right.

Verses 14-18 It is against God’s law to carry on business in an unfair manner. We could translate part of verse 14 like this. ‘If you sell property to a man in your country, do not cheat him.’ Numbers 36:9 tells us that in the *Jubilee Year, land must go back to its original owner. Leviticus 25:24 also says this. The buyer did not own the land permanently. The land really belonged to God. He lent it to the people when they came into *Canaan. *Canaan was the old name of countries that we now call Palestine and *Israel. If the people wanted to remain in this land, they had to obey God.

Verses 19-24 So that people would not worry about food in the *Jubilee Year, God made them a promise. Remember, a *Jubilee Year followed a *Sabbath Year. That meant that the people would need food for 2 years. This would make the people trust God’s promises in verses 21-22.

Verses 25-28 The *Hebrew word for ‘relative’ is *goel. A *goel is a member of your family. There is a list of possible *goels in verses 48 and 49. Because a brother, uncle or cousin buys the property, it remains in the family. In the *Jubilee Year, the poor man could claim back his property. He could even claim it then if the *goel had not bought it back. The price to buy back the property before the *Jubilee Year depended on the number of years until then.

Verses 29-31 This is an exception to the *Jubilee Year rule. The reason is that in a city with walls there are no fields. And the *Jubilee Year rule is only about the return of the land.

There is a good reason for this exception. Some people, who were not *Israelites, would join the *Israelites. Those people would live in the cities. They should obey God’s law and they should believe God. Then God accepts them as *Israelites. But the law about the *Jubilee Year is completely fair. So those people do not lose their homes. Their right to live in the cities in Israel is a permanent right.

However, the agricultural workers would live outside the city walls. They had to live near the land where they worked. So when God gave the land back to the original families, he gave them houses to live in, too.

Verses 32-34 There were 13 *tribes, or large families, that came out of Egypt with Moses. Each *tribe contained *descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. One of these sons, Joseph, had two *tribes. They were called by his sons’ names, Ephraim and Manasseh. 12 of the *tribes had land in *Canaan. One *tribe, called Levi, had no land. Instead, they had homes in 48 cities in *Canaan. The priests belonged to this *tribe. And the other members of this *tribe helped the priests. They were the *Levites. The cities were called ‘*Levites’ cities’. Most of the *Jews possessed land. The *Levites’ possession was houses. Outside their cities, the *Levites also had fields, which they could not sell. The *Levites had two important jobs to do:

·  They had to help the priests in the house of God.

·  They had to teach the people God’s laws and rules.

Verses 35-38 The ‘brother’ may mean a real brother, or a member of the same *tribe. James tells Christians to do the same for other (poorer) Christians, James 2:15-16.

Verses 39-46 The master must deal with the poor man as a wage earner. He is not a slave. In the 7th year, such a man could go free, Deuteronomy 15:12. If a *Jubilee Year came earlier, the man could go free then. However, if the man or woman or child is a foreigner, the rules are different. They will never be free.

Verses 47-55 Here is a list of ‘*goels’. The note on verse 25 explains the word ‘*goel’. If you are the poor man, the list starts with your brothers. They are close to you. Then uncles, either your mother’s or father’s brothers. Then your cousins. We do not really know where the list ended! The price depended on:

·  how many years there were until the *Jubilee; and

·  how many years the poor man had served.

Again, the owner must deal fairly with the man whom he is hiring. This is because the *Israelites are really God’s servants. This becomes clear every *Jubilee Year.

Something to do

1. Read Matthew 6:33. Compare it with the ideas of *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years.

2. Read Isaiah 5:8 and Amos 2:6. Do these verses seem to show that people did not obey the rules in Leviticus 25:1-24?

3. Read the stories in the Bible about *goels. They are in Ruth chapters 1 to 4 and Jeremiah chapter 32.

4. Read Joshua chapter 21 to find where the 48 *Levites’ cities were.

Chapter 26

More commands, promises and punishments

v1 ‘You must not make *idols for yourselves in the land (the country called *Canaan). You must not make an image (of a false god) or a column that you *worship. You must not get down onto your knees in front of a stone with a special shape. (Remember), I am the *LORD your God.

v2 Always remember (to rest and to *worship me on) my *Sabbath days. Give honour to my house. I am the *LORD.

v3 Do the things that I have told you to do. Obey all my commands.

v4 Then I will send you rain in its (proper) season. The ground will give you its crops and the trees in the fields (will give you) their fruits.

v5 You will beat the corn, in order to clean it, until you gather the *grapes. You will gather *grapes until it is time to plant (seeds). So you will have plenty of food to eat and you will live safely in your land.

v6 I will give you peace in your land. Then you will lie down and you will not be afraid. I will remove wild animals from your land. (People with) swords will not come into your land.

v7 You will chase your enemies and you will kill them with (your) *swords.

v8 Five (5) of you will chase a hundred (100) men. A hundred (100) of you will chase ten thousand (10 000) men. You will kill your enemies with (your) *swords.

v9 Then I will be kind to you and you will have many children. I will increase the numbers of your people. I will do what I have promised to do for you.

v10 You will have enough food from your crops to last for a whole year. When you gather the new harvest, you will have to throw the old harvest away!

v11 I will put my house among you and I will not hate you.

v12 I will walk round among you. I will be your God and you will be my people.

v13 I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I brought you out of (the country called) Egypt. So, you are not now the *Egyptians’ slaves. It was as if I broke the wooden bars from your shoulders. And so now you can stand up straight.


v14 But if you do not obey me, (I will punish you). Also, you must do all that I order you to do.

v15 But perhaps you will hate my laws and rules and you will neglect to obey all my commands. (If you do such things) you will be opposing my *covenant.

v16 This is how I will punish you. Suddenly, I will send terror to you. This will include bad diseases. People’s bodies will become too hot. Your eyes will not be able to see well. You will not want to eat your food. You will not harvest any crops after you sow your seeds. Your enemies will eat them.

v17 My face will be against you, so that your enemies will defeat you. People who hate you will rule over you. You will run away, even if nobody chases you.

v18 If after all this, you still do not obey me, you will suffer my punishment. (I will punish you) 7 times for your *sins.

v19 I will destroy your proud attitude. The sky will be like iron for you and the ground (will be) like metal.

v20 You will use your strength but you will get nothing for it. The land will not give (you) its crops. The trees on the land will not give (you) their fruits.

v21 If you continue to be against me, I will send you (more) trouble. If you do not obey me, (your trouble will be) 7 times greater because of your *sins.

v22 I will send wild animals that are loose against you. They will rob your children from you. They will kill your cows. They will make you very few in number. Your roads will be empty (because nobody will go on them).

v23 If after all these things, you will not accept my discipline (then I will continue to punish you). If you continue to fight against me, v24 then even I (your God) will fight against you. I, even I, will hit you hard 7 times for your *sins.

v25 I will bring (people with) *swords against you to satisfy my anger. This is the anger that my *covenant (with you contains). When you gather in your cities, I will send a bad disease among you. Also, your enemies will overcome you.

v26 I will stop your supply of bread. Then 10 women will bake your bread in one oven. They will distribute your bread by weight. You will eat, but (the food) will not satisfy you.

v27 If after all this, you still will not obey me (then more bad things will happen). If you continue to fight against me, v28 I will fight against you in an angry manner. You will suffer my punishment for your *sins 7 times.

v29 You will eat the bodies of your sons and you will eat the bodies of your daughters.

v30 I will destroy your high places (where you *worship false gods). I will ruin the *altars where you burn *incense. I will make a pile of your dead bodies on the dead images of your *idols. I myself will hate you.

v31 I will ruin your cities. I will make empty the places where you *worship (me). I will not find any delight in the pleasant smells when you burn things for me.

v32 I will make your land empty. When your enemies come to live in it, the state of it will give them a shock.

v33 I will chase you away with my *sword and I will scatter you among the nations. Your land will be empty and I will have destroyed your cities.

v34 Then the land will enjoy its *Sabbath Years during all the time that it is empty. You will be in the country of your enemies, so your land will rest. And then it will enjoy its *Sabbath Years.

v35 All the time that it is empty, (your land) will have rest. It did not have this rest during the *Sabbath Years when you worked on it.

v36 Some of you will remain alive, but I will take away their courage in the country of their enemies. The sound of a leaf that blows (in the wind) will chase them away! They will run away as if (someone with) a *sword chased them. They will fall down although nobody is chasing them.

v37 They will fall over each other, as if they were running away from a (man with a) *sword. (They will do this) although nobody is chasing them. You will not be able to stand up in front of your enemies.

v38 You will die among the nations. Your enemies’ country will eat you. (In other words, you will die there.)

v39 Those among you who remain alive will die in your enemies’ countries. (This will be) because of their own *sins. They will also die because of their fathers’ *sins, which I will add to theirs.

v40 But (my people) may confess their *sins and the *sins of their fathers. Their *sins are the bad things that they did against me. Really, they fought against me.

v41 But by then I will have fought against them. I will have brought them into the country of their enemies. Their hearts will be like the hearts of people who do not belong to me. But they may make their hearts humble and they may do the right things.

v42 Then I will remember my promises to Jacob. I will remember my promises to Isaac. I will remember my promises to Abraham. Also I will remember the land.

v43 But the land will be without (its people). It will enjoy its *Sabbaths while it is empty without them. The people did not like my rules and they hated my laws. But they will pay for their *sins (when the land rests).

v44 Although they have done all this, I will not hate them so much as to destroy their (families) completely. When they are in the country of their enemies, I will not destroy my promises to them. I will not hate them that much. I am the *LORD (who is) their God.

v45 I will remember my promises because (I love my people). I made those promises to their families when I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. All the nations saw (what I did. I did it) to be their God. I am the *LORD.’

v46 These are the rules, laws and commands that the *LORD established between himself and (his people) the *Israelites. He did it at the mountain called Sinai through Moses.


Verses 1-2 An idol is an image that people *worship. People made stones with special shapes that they *worshipped. Verse 1 repeats Leviticus 19:4 and the second (2nd) of the 10 commands in Exodus 20:4-6. The 4 words for *idols in this verse include every type of false god. Verse 2 repeats the fourth (4th) of the 10 commands, Exodus 20:8-11 and Leviticus 19:30. All this emphasises that the *LORD God is the greatest God. He is the only real God. His people must *worship him and only him.

Verses 3-10 People beat corn in order to clean it, so that it stores well. They would start to beat the corn in April. And they started to gather the *grapes in October. So here, the *Israelites would beat their corn from April until October. This was a very long time to carry out that work. It did not usually take them so long to do it. But here, the reason for all this work was good news! It was because the harvest was so plentiful.

People use *grapes to make wine. Wine was important. Water often contained something that gave people diseases. But wine was safer to drink. So the promise was for plenty of bread and wine. They would even throw some of it away at the end of a year! But they had to obey God first. They would also be able to protect themselves against enemies. A *sword is a long knife that soldiers used. The wild animals were probably dangerous animals, for example lions and bears.

Verses 11-13 God reminds them about these things.

·  Who he is.

·  What he has done for them.

God also promises that he will live among them. His house was later the building called the temple, which Solomon built in Jerusalem. This temple was the building where the *Israelites *worshipped God.

People used to put wooden bars on animals when they had heavy work to do. And people sometimes did this to prisoners and slaves too. But here the word seems to be a word picture. In Egypt, the *Israelites had to work hard like slaves. But God made them free! The wooden bars did not still push them down. They did not still have to do heavy work for other people. ‘Stand up straight’ means that they could walk easily.

Verses 14-17 God had promised to help and to protect his people if they obeyed him. But if not, God promised that he would punish the people. ‘My face will be against you’ means this. God will consider his people to be his enemies, not his friends. The people’s bodies become too hot because they are ill.

Verses 18-20 The proud attitude here is not a good thing, but a bad thing. It made them feel as if they did not need God. So the sky would be like iron. That word picture means that there would be no rain. The ground would be as hard as metal. The people could not dig in it. So there would be few crops or fruits. There are several references to ‘7 times’ in this chapter. It probably means ‘very much more’.

Verses 21-26 If the people continued not to obey God, worse things would happen.

·  Wild animals would kill their children. These animals would include lions and bears. They lived near Jericho when David was king, 1 Samuel 17:34-36 and 2 Kings 17:25.

·  Their enemies would kill them. These enemies lived in the countries round *Judah and *Israel. There are examples in Judges 2:11-15, 2 Kings 17:18-20 and Isaiah 10:5-11.

·  There would be bad diseases that would make people die. The diseases would kill many people. Also, their enemies would kill them.

·  There would not be much food. One oven would contain bread for 10 families. That is not enough to satisfy their hunger. So they would remain hungry.

Verses 27-33 If they continued not to obey God, even worse things would happen!

·  They would have so little food that they would even eat their children. There are examples in 2 Kings 6:28-29 and Lamentations 2:20.

·  God would destroy their high places. These were places usually at the top of hills, where people *worshipped their false gods. They burned *sacrifices to these gods on the *altars.

·  God would also empty the places where they *worshipped him. He also would empty their land. Even their enemies would be surprised to see this.

·  The *Israelites would have to live in other countries. God would scatter them with his *sword. ‘God’s sword’ means the *swords of the enemies that God sent against his people.

Verses 34-35 The land should have rested during the *Sabbath Years. (See Leviticus 25:1-7.) ‘Rested’ means that people did not work on the land. The *Sabbath Years should have happened every 7th year. But when the *Israelites were in *exile, the land would get its rest! ‘*Exile’ means away from home, where God had scattered his people.

Verses 36-39 The ‘country will eat you’ is an *Hebrew way to say this. ‘You will die in the country’. Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish people and their *descendants. That is why God adds their fathers’ *sins to their *sins.

Verses 40-42 ‘Fathers’ here means fathers, grandfathers, and earlier members of the same family. ‘Hearts’ really means ‘minds’. The *Israelites believed that you thought with your heart. The *Hebrew words for hearts in verse 41 include a description of the attitude of their hearts. So our translation says, ‘Their hearts are like the hearts of people who do not belong to me.’ We could say, ‘Their hearts did not behave as *Israelites should behave.’ The promises or *covenants that God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in Something to do number 3.

Verses 43-45 The people did not obey God’s laws. Therefore the land did not rest on the *Sabbath Years. But now it can rest! But although the people *sinned, God promised not to destroy their families completely. God’s people, the *Israelites, would continue to exist. In the end, he would again rescue them and he would bring them back to their own country.

Verse 46 This verse probably refers to the whole Book of Leviticus.

Something to do

1. Study the 10 commands in Exodus 20:1-17. Compare Exodus 20:5 with Leviticus 26:39.

2. Read Isaiah chapter 11, which describes some of the New Earth to us. The New Earth will be where God lives among his people.

3. Study the *covenants that God made with:

·  Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:1-21.

·  Isaac, Genesis 26:24.

·  Jacob, Genesis 35:9-15.

Chapter 27

Laws about *tithes and *offerings

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites. Say this to them. “Someone might make a special promise to give a person to the *LORD. You must say what the value (of that person) is.

v3 The value of a male person whose age is between 20 and 60 years is 50 *shekels of silver. You must use *shekels (that match the standard of the *shekel) in my house.

v4 The value of a female person is 30 *shekels.

v5 If the male person is between the ages of 5 and 20 years, (his) value is 20 *shekels. (The value of) a female person is 10 *shekels.

v6 If the male person is between one month and 5 years old, (his) value is 5 *shekels of silver. (The value of) a female person is 3 *shekels of silver.

v7 If the male person is 60 years of age or older, (his) value is 15 *shekels. (The value of) a female person is 10 *shekels.

v8 But someone who made such a promise may be too poor to pay the price. He must make the person stand in front of the priest. The priest will work out how much the poor man will have to pay. It is what the poor man can afford.


v9 Someone may promise to give an animal to the *LORD. The animal may be a type of animal that (the priest) can offer (to the *LORD). Then the animal that the person gives to the *LORD becomes holy.

v10 He must not exchange it for another animal. He must not change a good animal for a bad animal, or a bad animal for a good one. If he does exchange one animal for another (animal), then both animals become holy.

v11 Someone may promise to give an animal that is not *clean. It is not an animal that (the priest) can offer to the *LORD. That animal must stand in front of the priest.

v12 The priest will work out what its value is, either high or low. It is the priest who will work out its value.

v13 If the man wants to buy (the animal) back, he must add 20% (per cent) of its value.


v14 A person may want to *dedicate his house as holy for the *LORD. The priest must work out what its value is, either high or low. Whatever the priest says will be its value.

v15 If the person wants to buy his house back, he must add 20% (per cent) to the price. Then (the house) will become his (house again).


v16 A person may want to *dedicate land to the *LORD. (That is,) part of his family’s (land). (The priest) must work out its value from the amount of seeds that someone would sow there. The rate is 50 *shekels of silver for 50 gallons (220 litres) of grain seeds.

v17 If he *dedicates his field during the *Jubilee Year, then that is its value.

v18 But if he *dedicates his field after the *Jubilee Year, the priest must work out its value. He will count how many years there will be until the (next) *Jubilee Year. He will reduce its value in proportion (to the number of years).

v19 The person who *dedicates (the field) may wish to buy it back. He must add 20% (per cent) of its value and then (the field) will be legally his (field again).

v20 If he does not buy back the field, nobody else can buy it back. (The same is true) if he sells the field to somebody else.

v21 When the field is free again in the *Jubilee Year, it will belong to the priests. It will be holy to the *LORD, like a field that belongs completely (to him).


v22 A man may *dedicate to the *LORD a field which he has bought. It is not part of his family’s land.

v23 The priest will work out the value of the field. It will depend on how long it is to the next *Jubilee Year. The man must pay its value on that day. It is holy for the *LORD.

v24 In the *Jubilee Year, the field will belong again to the person from whom the man bought it. It is part of the land that belongs to that person’s family.

v25 (The priest) will say (what) the value (of the land is) in *shekels. The *shekel will be as it is in the house of God. (It weighs 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams).) 20 *gerahs make one *shekel.


v26 Nobody may *dedicate a *first-born animal to the *LORD. This is because all *first-born animals already belong to him. (The animal) belongs to the *LORD, whether it is a cow or a sheep.

v27 But the animal may be an *unclean animal. Then the owner may buy it back for its value plus 20% (per cent). If he does not buy it back, (the priest) must sell it for its value.


v28 A person must not sell anything that he *devotes to the *LORD. He must not buy it back either. This is (the rule) for every such thing that he has. It may be a human person, an animal or one of his family’s fields. Everything that he *devotes belongs to the *LORD. It is most holy.

v29 But a human person whom (a judge) has *devoted (to the *LORD) must die. Someone must kill that person if it is proper to *devote that person. Nobody can buy back that person.


v30 A *tithe of everything from the land belongs to the *LORD. This includes grain from the land and fruit from trees. (The *tithe) is holy for the *LORD.

v31 If someone buys back any of his *tithe, he must add 20% (per cent) (to its price).

v32 (People must also give) a *tithe of their cows and sheep. A tenth of all that come under a farmer’s *rod will be holy for the *LORD.

v33 (The farmer) may not choose the good (animal) from the bad (animal). He may not put one animal in place of another (animal). If he does, then both animals become holy. He cannot buy back either of them.” ’


v34 These are the laws which the *LORD gave to Moses on the mountain called Sinai. (These rules) were for the *Israelites.


Verse 2 A person can make a special promise to the *LORD. That promise may be to give someone else (for example, a son or daughter) to the *LORD. Then, that other person would serve the *LORD in a special way.

Bible students do not agree about the purpose of the payment in verses 2-8. There are two main ideas:

(1) Perhaps this payment was to buy back the person from the *LORD. Bible students who think this give the example of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11:34-40. Jephthah gave his daughter to the *LORD. Afterwards, he wanted to change his mind. If these Bible students are right, then Jephthah had to pay this money instead. But the Book of Judges seems not to describe the mere payment of money.

(2) Perhaps the person who gave the gift had to pay money too. The other person would work for God for his whole life. This is what happened to Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:21-28. If these Bible students are right, then it was not possible to buy back a person from the *LORD.

Verses 3-7 A *shekel is a weight. It is 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams). Women had a lower value because they were not as strong as men. The people whom someone promised to give to the *LORD would help the priests in God’s house. The priests would train the children how to help them. In countries near to *Israel, people *sacrificed children to their false gods. The *LORD did not allow this in *Israel.

Verse 8 Here ‘the person’ means the person whom someone is *offering to the *LORD. This person must stand in front of the priest. The priest will decide how much the poor man can afford to pay.

Verses 9-10 When someone promises to give something to God, God accepts that gift immediately. It belongs to God even before the giver hands it over to the priest. So the giver cannot change his mind before he hands the animal over. He cannot give a different animal instead. If he tries to do that, then both animals belong to God.

The gift may be an animal that God accepts as a *sacrifice. Then the giver cannot ever buy that animal back. When he promised it, God accepted it. When God accepted it, the animal became holy. So the man must give that particular animal as a *sacrifice. God will not accept any payment or any other animal instead of it.

Verses 11-13 This man gave an animal that God does not accept as a *sacrifice. For example, the man may have given a *donkey or a horse. So the priest cannot *sacrifice it. Usually the priest would sell it for its proper value. The money would be for God’s house.

But perhaps the giver was sorry that he promised to give that animal. For example, perhaps it was his favourite horse. God allows the giver to buy back his animal. But the giver must know that he has done something wrong. He has taken back the animal that he gave to God. So he must pay an extra 20% (per cent), that is, one fifth. This is like the rules for the *guilt offering (see Leviticus 5:16 and 6:5).

Verses 14-15 *Dedicate means ‘to put away from daily use and to make holy’. Probably the priests would use such a house to live or to work in. Again, a man must add an extra 20% (per cent) to the price if he wants to buy his house back. He has to pay the extra money because he has done something wrong. He has taken back a gift that he gave to God.

Verses 16-21 A person could give some of his family’s land to the *LORD. Usually, the family would own again any land that they sold. It would become their land again in the *Jubilee Year (chapter 25). But if someone gave land to the *LORD, it would become permanently the *LORD’s, in the *Jubilee Year. However, until the *Jubilee Year, the giver could buy back the land. He had to pay an extra 20% (per cent) because he has done something wrong. He has taken back something that he gave to God.

The *Hebrew word for ‘50 gallons’ is ‘homer’. It is close to 50 gallons (220 litres) in size. ‘Homer’ means ‘*donkey’. A *donkey is a small horse. A homer of seed is what a *donkey can carry. Two things are not clear and they are a puzzle to Bible students.

·  Who does work on the field that the man has *dedicated to the *LORD? Does the man who *dedicated the field work on it? Then perhaps, he gives the harvest to the priests. Or do the priests work on the field? Bible students are not sure about the answers.

·  Who sells the field to somebody else in verse 20? Is it the man or the priests? Again, Bible students are not sure about the answers. Perhaps this is about land that the man has already sold. Usually, he would own the land again in the *Jubilee Year. But the man has given his rights over the land to the *LORD, so he cannot buy the land back. So in the *Jubilee Year, the land will become the *LORD’s.

Verses 22-25 These are the rules for a temporary gift of land to the *LORD. When someone had bought land, he only owned it until the next *Jubilee Year. Then the land went back to the original owner in the *Jubilee Year. So if the buyer gave this land to the *LORD, his gift was a temporary gift. He gave only the use of the land (or its harvests) until the *Jubilee Year.

Verses 26-27 The first young animal that a cow or a sheep has belongs to the *LORD, Exodus 13:2 and Exodus 34:19-20. That animal is the ‘*first-born’ of its parent. So nobody can give that animal to the *LORD; it is already his.

If the *first-born animal is *unclean, for example, a *donkey, the owner can buy it back from the *LORD at birth. Exodus 34:20 says that the owner must give a *lamb to the *LORD. That is the price to buy back the *first-born *donkey. If the owner does not want to buy back the *donkey, he must kill it.

Afterwards, the owner may decide to give again that *first-born *donkey to the *LORD. The owner would not be giving the *donkey for *sacrifice. The only animals that the priests *sacrificed were cows, *bulls, sheep and goats. The priests could sell the *donkey to someone else. Or, perhaps the owner might want to buy it back again. He must pay the extra 20% (per cent), because it is wrong to take back a gift from the *LORD.

Verses 28-29 The word ‘*devote’ means more than ‘*dedicate’. To *devote something to the *LORD is a very serious matter. Sometimes a person could buy back something that he had *dedicated to the *LORD. But nobody can buy back the things that someone *devotes to the *LORD. Such things belong wholly and completely to the *LORD. They are not only holy, they are most holy for the *LORD.

It seems that often, the people destroyed these things completely in order to hand them over to the *LORD. (See Joshua 6:17-19). This happened at certain battles (see 1 Samuel 15:17-23).

*Jewish Bible students think that verse 29 is about a judge’s decision. A judge could decide that a person must die because of his crime. So the judge would *devote that person to the *LORD, so that the person must die. And nobody could pay for the person to go free.

When the judge made that decision, he handed the person over to the *LORD. A judge would only make that decision for the worst crimes. For example, perhaps the person had killed someone on purpose. Or perhaps the person had decided on purpose that he would fight against the *LORD. (See Leviticus 24:13-17.)

Verses 30-33 A *tithe is one tenth, or 10% (per cent). The farmer’s *rod was a stick. He used it to guide and to protect his animals. Verse 32 seems to describe how he might count his animals. He would cause them to pass, under his *rod, through a narrow place. Then he could count each one in turn. And every tenth animal belonged to the *LORD. That animal was holy. So it was not possible to give another animal instead of it. But it was possible for a person to buy back some of his *tithe of grain or fruit. When someone did that, he was taking back a gift from the *LORD. So he had to pay the extra 20% (per cent) in addition to the value of the gift.

Verse 34 God gave these rules to the *Israelites because he wanted to have a relationship with them. He wanted to forgive their *sins so that they could have *fellowship with him. God wanted his people to be able to *worship him in the beauty of *holiness.

Something to do

1. Read 1 Samuel 1:11 and 1 Samuel 1:21-28. That passage is about Hannah, who *dedicated her son Samuel to the *LORD.

2. Read the stories in Joshua 6:17; Joshua 7:1-15; Deuteronomy 13:13-19; and 1 Samuel chapter 15. They are about things and people that someone *devoted to the *LORD.

3. Look for the farmer’s *rod in Psalm 23.

Word List

altar ~ a special table where the priests burned *incense, grain and animals.

atone ~ to forgive.

atonement ~ another word for what happens when God forgives us. After God forgives us, we are ‘at one’ with him. In other words, we are united as friends (or have friendly relations) with him.

blasphemy ~ bad words that a person says against God; an insult against God.

bull ~ the male animal of the same kind as a cow.

Canaan ~ the old name for the countries afterwards called *Israel and *Judah.

clean ~ suitable for God or for God’s people. A clean person could go to God’s house to *worship him.

corn offering ~ a gift of grain to the *LORD. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

covenant ~ the special promise or agreement that God made with the *Jews.

cut off ~ to give someone a punishment that separates that person from his family or nation. That punishment may be death. But it may be to force that person to live abroad.

dedicate ~ to put something away from daily use and to make it holy or special.

descendant ~ members of your family who live after you live.

devote ~ to give something completely and permanently to God. This word means more than ‘*dedicate’; it is a much more serious promise. Often when people devoted something to the *LORD, they destroyed that thing completely.

donkey ~ an animal that is like a small horse.

Egyptians ~ people who come from Egypt; Egypt is a country in north Africa.

exile ~ the time when the *Israelites had to live in Babylon.

fellowship ~ a special type of friendship between God and his people. Or, the special type of friendship that God’s people have with each other.

first-born ~ the first baby that is born in a human family. Or, the first young animal to be born to its mother.

first fruits ~ the first fruits or grains that you pick each year.

frankincense ~ a sticky material that has a sweet smell; people get it from trees. They use it as *incense.

gerah ~ a measurement that is 1/20th (5%) of a *shekel.

goel ~ a member of your family who had to carry out special duties on your behalf. For example, the goel had to pay for your freedom if you became a slave. And he had a duty to buy back your family property if you had to sell it.

grapes ~ fruits that people use to make wine.

guilt offering ~ an *offering by someone who is responsible for certain wrong acts. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

holiness ~ the quality of somebody who is *holy, or very, very good.

holy ~ very, very good; only God is really holy. Or, a description of something that belongs to God.

horn ~ hard material that grows on the heads of some animals like cows and goats. Or, the points that were on the corners of the *altars.

idol ~ an image that people *worship; a false god.

incense ~ a material that gives a good smell when people burn it.

Israel ~ the name of the country where the *Jews went to live, especially the northern part of that country.

Israelites ~ the *LORD’s people whom Moses led out of Egypt. Afterwards, they lived in the countries called *Judah and *Israel.

Jewish ~ a word that describes *Jews and what they do.

Jews ~ another word for the *Israelites.

Jubilee Year ~ a special year that happened once at the end of each period of 50 years.

Judah ~ the name of the southern part of the country where the *Jews went to live.

lamb ~ a young sheep.

lampholder ~ an object that holds a lamp.

Levite ~ a member of the *tribe of Levi.

LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates YHWH. YHWH probably means ‘he is always alive’. So the word LORD (which means ‘master’) is not a proper translation.

meeting tent ~ the special tent where God met with Moses. The priests could enter it to *worship; they burnt *sacrifices on the *altar in front of it.

offering ~ gift.

oil ~ a type of oil that comes from an oily fruit called the olive. People used this oil in their food and they burnt it in lamps.

palm ~ a type of tree.

Passover ~ the special day when the *Israelites remembered that God led them out of Egypt.

peace offering ~ a gift to thank God. This *offering is about *fellowship with God and his people. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

pentecost ~ 50th. The Day of Pentecost was a special party at the beginning of the wheat harvest. It was 50 days after *Passover.

plagues ~ bad things that happen to people. The ‘10 Plagues’ were 10 punishments that the inhabitants of Egypt suffered. This happened at the time of Moses.

rod ~ a stick that farmers used to protect and to guide their animals.

Sabbath (Day), Sabbath (Year) ~ the 7th day of the week; or the 7th year during a period of 7 years. The 7th day was a special day for rest and *worship. People did not work on that day.

sacrifice ~ something that people burned on an *altar for God; or to burn on an *altar for God. People also gave sacrifices to false gods.

shekel ~ a weight that is 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams).

sin ~ to do wrong things; not to obey God’s rules. Or, the things we do when we sin. Evil thoughts, words and deeds are all sin, whether we do them on purpose or not.

sin offering ~ an *offering by a person who is guilty of particular types of *sin. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

sword ~ a long knife that soldiers used.

tithe ~ one tenth or 10% (per cent).

tribe ~ a very large family.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument.

unclean ~ unsuitable for God or for God’s people. When someone was unclean, that person was unable to *worship at God’s house.

unleavened ~ something that contains no *yeast. The Time of Unleavened Bread is a special holiday that begins immediately after *Passover. It lasts for a week. During the week, the *Jews do not eat bread that contains *yeast.

vine ~ a type of bush. The fruit of a vine is the *grape.

vineyard ~ a garden or field where people produce *grapes.

wave offering ~ a gift that the priest waves in front of the *LORD.

whole offering ~ an *offering that the priests burned completely on the *altar. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

willow ~ a type of tree.

worship ~ to praise someone (usually God). You tell him that you believe him to be very, very great. Also, you love him and you will obey him.

yeast ~ the substance that makes bread ‘rise’, that is, to get bigger in the oven.

Book List

The Interlinear NIV *Hebrew-English Old Testament/John R Kohlenberger III/Zondervan

The Holy Bible (English Version for the Deaf)/Baker Book House

Word Biblical Commentary on Leviticus/John E Hartley/Nelson

Leviticus/R K Harrison/Inter-Varsity Press


© 2010, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2010

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