Why was the redemption price for men and women different in Leviticus 27:3–8?Question: "Why was the redemption price for men and women different in Leviticus 27:3–8?"
Answer: In Leviticus 27, God gave instructions regarding vows made on behalf of various people in dedication to the Lord. When a vow was made, a “redemption price” was paid—and the amount of the offering varied based on the age and gender of the person being dedicated. The redemption price for men and women was different, as shown in the following list:
Males 60 and over: 15 shekels
Females 60 and over: 10 shekels
Males ages 20–60: 50 shekels
Females ages 20–60: 30 shekels
Males ages 5–20: 20 shekels
Females ages 5–20: 10 shekels
Males ages 0–5: 5 shekels
Females ages 0–5: 3 shekels
A shekel was believed to be the value of a worker for an entire month, so even one shekel was a large amount for the average person. For those too poor to pay the set redemption price, the priest would determine an appropriate amount (Leviticus 27:8).
Males were more expensive to dedicate than females, and males 20–60 years of age required the highest redemption price. The difference in redemption price appears to be based on a person’s ability to work in an agricultural society and on how many years that person could work. A man aged 20–60 was seen as a worker who could perform the best labor, therefore resulting in the highest redemption price. Those over 60 and under 20 could do some work, but not as much, traditionally. Those 5 years old and under required the lowest price, as they would have been unable to work much or at all.
It is important to note that the Bible begins with the creation of male and female in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 states, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” The law of Leviticus 27 recognized that the burden of manual labor fell primarily on the male—and only during the years of his strength. The redemption price had nothing to do with the inherent worth of men and women; it had everything to do with the practicality of production in an agrarian society.
Recommended Resource: Leviticus, New International Commentary on the Old Testament by Gordon Wenham
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Questions about Leviticus
Why was the redemption price for men and women different in Leviticus 27:3–8?