Mandatory Contributions and their Redemption Values

Leviticus 27:26-34

The Book of Leviticus concludes with the redemption of firstborn animals and tithes. Unlike the previous section, that dealt with voluntary contributions, the redemptions here apply to obligatory contributions.


The firstborn of any animal is automatically dedicated to God, but if it is unclean, such as a donkey, it must be redeemed for its value plus a fifth. If the owner does not redeem it, it must be sold.


The people are commanded to dedicate tithes from both their crops and their flocks. Crops can be redeemed in part for their value plus one fifth, but animals cannot. If someone tries to substitute one animal for another, both animals become consecrated.


The Israel Bible explains the nature of the tithe of produce mentioned in this chapter. It is called the second tithe, because the first tithe is dedicated to the Levites. After that has been separated, the farmer must take another tenth and bring it to Jerusalem, where he eats it in holiness. Since this might be too cumbersome, he can redeem the produce for money and use it to buy food when he arrives in Jerusalem. The holiness of the tithe transfers to the money and finally to the food bought in Jerusalem. The entire system of tithing serves as a reminder that everything we have is a gift from God, and not the result of our own work.


The above notwithstanding, anything — or anyone — that has been segregated or excommunicated cannot be redeemed by paying the Temple treasury. In fact, a person who has been segregated for death must be executed, and no amount of money can save him.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think crops can be redeemed but animals cannot?

Comments ( 8 )

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  • Herman Arentsen

    A firstborn male animal is sacred from birth as an offering. it cannot be consecrated as another kind of offering. It is not the property of its owner, but of HaShem. The maaser-animal is already "normally" brought as an offering and cannot be redeemed. So crops can be redeemed as they are the natural blessing of the fields given by G-d WHO receives back part of the crops.

  • Sheila

    Crops— land — the people — His people worked the land which is a heritage from the Lord to produce the crops and so the tithing of their livelihood, once again reminded them of Who is the Provider. This reminds me the importance of the tithe and how it is consecrated and holy unto the Lord. Love all of your comments, they are so encouraging.

  • Ken

    Observation and reflection upon the weekly parsha regarding blessings, curses, tithes, redemption and valuations. These are not as severe as often contemplated. They are just and fair.
    My early Christian learning had a lot of misapplication to these principles of the Torah for the Torah is not taught in most Christian churches for it is considered OLD. I was raised in fear for God’s curses were magnified and tithing was expected but not explained. I still struggle with this. But a very faithful Christian (God rest his soul) said to me, if we are devoted to the Lord, 10%, 20%, 90% is not enough for 100% is expected. God’s gift of life is to be used to his glory.

  • Orli

    The reason is quite simple. Animals can walk and food can’t. The tithes were to be taken to the temple (or tabernacle in the time of the judges before Solomon built the temple) and the way could be very long. If you had a great deal of food to take with you, because God had blessed you abundantly, it could be very difficult to carry it all with you. If you were allowed to change it into money then you could buy food at the feast in Jerusalem. Animals on the other hand, could carry themselves. I find God to be very practical and always looking out for what is good for US. Deut. 14:23-26

    • Ken

      Excellent answer and reference. I was stumped.

    • Diana Brown

      Thank you Orli. My western mindset sometimes overthinks and looks for a reason to explain Torah according to our American culture. We think in formulas and linear patterns. HaShem has a Hebrew Biblical calendar and circular way for us to learn to think according to His Feast Days (7). In observing those, you see He does lead one from day to day and year to year in practical ways. The Torah is so rich and has so many layers. We will never get to the full understanding in this age but I do love to study the Word of the Lord. I can’t hardly wait for the Messianic Age. I know that the rabbis tell us man has six thousand years to learn Torah on their own. Israel’s Messiah will come at the end of 6000 years to teach what we cannot grasp on our own even though the Word and the Spirit of the Lord have been available to us. This Jewish year is 5775 so everyone knows, we are on the heels of Messiah. It is an exciting time to live. The prophets of old longed to see our days!

    • Doreen Poole

      Excellent answer. I was having trouble with this one. Thank you.

  • Diana Brown

    Would it be because we participate in the planting, sowing, and harvesting of crops? He wants us to remember He created the soil, water, sunshine and without Him, we couldn’t produce crops?
    HaShem creates the animals all by Himself so the animals are already redeemed?

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