In the final chapter of the book of Leviticus the material value of items (servants, animals, houses or lands) was estimated in the context of redemption. Provisions were made to give money instead of the item, in which case the adding of a fifth of its value was usually required. Such vows were expressions of special thanksgiving and were given over and above the expected sacrifices. Calculating the value of material possessions as we call it – houses, land, farm animals, and so forth – is not unusual, however, estimating the value of a human being is. Leviticus 27:2-7 elaborates on the subject:
“If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate someone to the Lord by paying the value of that person, here is the scale of values to be used. A man between the ages of twenty and sixty is valued at fifty shekels of silver, as measured by the sanctuary shekel. A woman of that age is valued at thirty shekels of silver. A boy between the ages of five and twenty is valued at twenty shekels of silver; a girl of that age is valued at ten shekels of silver. A boy between the ages of one month and five years is valued at five shekels of silver; a girl of that age is valued at three shekels of silver. A man older than sixty is valued at fifteen shekels of silver; a woman of that age is valued at ten shekels of silver.”
From the Ashbury Bible Commentary regarding redemption of persons pledged to God we read: “It is possible that these values were set on the basis of what a person would fetch in the slave market. The price then seems to be determined according to a person’s strength, not on the inherent worth of a person.”
There’s two possible ways to look at value. There is material value and there is inherent value. It seems, the farther away we drift from God the more we get stuck in the confines of material value. In the previous chapter of the book of Leviticus we read:
Leviticus 26:27-29: “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.”
Our sons and daughters are devalued to flesh on the meat market so-to-speak, downgraded to their mere material value, if we choose to leave God out of the equation. We live God-less, and our life becomes worthless. On the other side of the spectrum, knowing God, walking with Him, will draw our focus on our inherent value, on the fact that we are handcrafted by God. In the same chapter of Leviticus God confirms:
Leviticus 26:12-13: “I will walk among you [a reminder of the Garden of Eden]; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.”
Isn’t it interesting that with knowing God comes freedom while with estrangement from God comes slavery? Knowing God we appreciate inherent value, while estrangement from God leads to a deterioration of value down to a mere materialistic point of view, which really downgrades all of God’s creation.
We’re more than just meets the eye. Let’s acknowledge that by leading a blessed life with God walking among us rather than losing out on God and thereby losing our value. We are precious in His eyes!