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It seems straightforward that if a house is dedicated then it can only be brought back by paying the set value plus 20%, but I'm a bit confused about what the passage is saying about dedicating people. It seems like that to dedicate a person then the value is paid to the priest, or the value plus the person is given to the priest?

Does this mean when a person is dedicated both the money and the person are given to the priest, (set apart, made holy, etc) or just the money itself is actually entering God's service?

Why would dedicating people be different than all the other types of dedications outlined in Leviticus 27? I feel like I'm missing something here.

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As I understand it, the person must be redeemed. There is a provision for reducing the valuation in case of need, Lev 27:8 (ESV2011): "And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford." Redemption appears to be mandatory. Verse 28 seems to be a different kind of vow -- "devoted", need to investigate that. –  disciple Apr 22 '14 at 1:46
Good point, I'll read it again with attention to the language used for vow. –  Jacob Apr 22 '14 at 4:59
Please cite a specific translation as various versions don't always line up. See this explanation of why this is important that gives examples of what we're looking for. –  Dan Apr 22 '14 at 11:47

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There's a very simple reason why people are evaluated differently than property: people aren't property. Technically, a person does have a monetary value according to how much he/she would be sold as a slave, but I could think of many reasons why the Bible wouldn't want such an evaluation: is the value of a human being really equal to how good of a slave he'd be?

To answer what actually happens, then, is that the person is 'redeemed' by his/her value given to the LORD according to the numbers in the passage. I assume that your confusion comes from the KJV, which begins Ch. 27 with "the persons shall be for the LORD, by thy estimation", implying that the person is given. However, other translations are more clear: "If anyone makes a special vow to the Lord involving the valuation of persons...", which is closer to the Hebrew. This verse (27:2) is merely introducing the numeric values given in the next few verses (50 shekels for a male, 30 for a female, etc.). The person himself is not given to the LORD.

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