Leviticus 27:3-8 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

3 The price for a man from 20 to 60 years old is 50 shekels[a] of silver. (You must use the official measure for the silver.) 4 The price for a woman who is 20 to 60 years old is 30 shekels. 5 The price for a man from 5 to 20 years old is 20 shekels. For a woman the price is 10 shekels. 6 The price for a boy from one month to five years old is 5 shekels. For a girl, the price is 3 shekels. 7 The price for a man who is 60 years old or older is 15 shekels. The price for a woman is 10 shekels.

8 “If anyone is too poor to pay the price, bring that person to the priest. The priest will decide how much money the person can afford to pay.

Why were men more valuable than women in this passage?

  • I recommend you do some "homework" first, which is kind of expected of original posters (OPs). A good place to start is here: bible.org/seriespage/22-value-vow-leviticus-27#P2721_859564. After reading that commentary you may just have your answer, but if you do not, you may be able to refine your question a little further, as well give the reference I've provided a link to. Welcome to Stack Exchange BHB. Don – rhetorician Dec 6 at 0:33
  • Thank you. I'll look into it once I get internet. – Jck Gutknecht Dec 7 at 18:00

Because - in a primarily agricultural society - the burden of work fell upon the men. That was the basis of pricing.

This answer by Got Questions (https://www.gotquestions.org/redemption-price.html) put it perfectly:

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.

It wasn't sexist, but practical in terms of the societal roles for men & women back in the Old Testament.

Warren Wiersbe in his Wiersbe Bible Commentary, the complete old testament OT in one volume, page 249, says:

The amount of money assigned to each age bracket and sex had nothing to do with the worth of the individual as a person. Everyone was precious to the Lord. The key idea was how much work they would have been able to do. A shekel was the equivalent of a month’s income for a worker, although we don’t know how much buying power it had. Thus a male from 20-60 was evaluated at about 4 years’ income. Put that into modern economic equivalents, and you will rightly conclude that people didn’t rush into making these vows! It would indeed be a costly thing to pay 4 years’ income to fulfill a vow to the Lord.

The question is couched in terms of a bias leaning toward assumed sexism. This is far from the case. This Torah law was actually very compassionate and allowed someone to dedicate themselves for a different price depending on what they earned, not what they were worth.

A working man earned the most and could afford to pay most. A young child could pay nothing but the parents would obviously pay and small fee on behalf of the child; etc. Women earned little and so their fees were correspondingly reduced.

Thus, the dedication fees were very practical and lenient based on what each person could afford, NOT the value of a person. Any such implication does not recognise the actual value that the Jewish society placed on women and their rights.

  • The ancient Israelite patriarchal society did not prevent women from inheriting property. Num 27:1-11, 36:1-12, Josh 17:3-6.
  • Women could be significant leaders, eg., Deborah. Judges 4.
  • Women could be prophets of God; eg, Miriam (Micah 6:4, Ex 15:20, 21), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20), Isaiah’s wife (Isa 8:3), Anna (Luke 2:36), The four daughters of Phillip (Acts 21:8, 9), etc.
  • Women could buy and sell property. Prov 31:16.
  • Women could earn independent income and use it at their discretion. Prov 31:11, 16, 18, 20, Acts 16:12-15, 40.
  • Men were required to treat women and wives with great respect – in fact, they were to treat wives as Jesus would love them – enough to give His life for them. Eph 5:25.
  • A man could not divorce his wife on whim and marry another without being guilty of adultery. Matt 19:9 (very different from Roman law), Gen 2:24.
  • A man could not deprive his wife of marital privileges. 1 Cor 7:2-4. (The same was equally required of women.)
  • Paul had female co-workers in Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2, 3) as well as Junia the apostle (Rom 16:7). Nympha appears to be the leader of the church that met in her house at Laodicea (Col 4:15). John also addressed an epistle to a female church leader (2 John 1).
  • Women are specifically mentioned as being deacons (using the masculine noun for the female in the Greek!!). Rom 16:1, 2, 1 Tim 3:11.
  • The New Testament church was specifically instructed to care for elderly women who could not support themselves . 1 Tim 5:9-13.
  • Women were allowed to teach men. The female leader, Pricilla taught the Apostle Apollos “more adequately”, Acts 18:26. It is significant that Pricilla is listed before her husband, Aquila, in this passage. King Lemuel was taught by his mother, Prov 31:1-9. Gal 3:28 declares that all gender distinctions are out of place for the Christian congregation

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