I was not expecting the last chapter of Leviticus (the book of the law) to be what it is. I don’t quite know what i was expecting. For some reason i figured it would be about some parting words the LORD had for Moses before leaving Mount Sinai, or that Moses and the sons of Israel packed up what they had and began to head out to Canaan.
Instead this last chapter is about value, ownership, dedication to the LORD, and tithe. It starts out placing a monetary value on people of different ages. Each has a different value depending on their age, sex, and the amount of time until the year of jubilee. What i think is interesting about this is that it pushes this concept that ownership of people, animals, homes, and land only truly belongs to the LORD / YHWH.
When most things of true value are sold or redeemed, they are done so with reference to the year of Jubilee. If a field is dedicated to the LORD, the priest places the value of that field at a certain price, related to how many years until the year of jubilee. After which the LORD reverts that land back to the family that He initially gave it to.
Thus it is not slavery, but servanthood. When a person is “sold”, they are done so in reference to the amount of labor that person would do between then and the year of jubilee. It is understood that the “Master” is not “buying” a person. They are simply paying for service from a person for a certain time period. This would be similar to a person signing a contract to work for a company for a certain number of years.
The other major theme is that of tithe. Of all of the animals that the people of Israel own, one out of every 10 must be returned to God. As they go through the gate, every 10th, whether male or female, the pick of the flock or a little sickly one, the 10th gets dedicated to Him. Also, the first that opens the womb is holy to YHWH. Thus the first lamb, the first goat, the first bull, etc. that are born; they must be dedicated to YHWH and returned to Him.
The emphasis here is ownership. Everything; the land, the people, the flocks, the fruit of the harvest, they all belong to YHWH. We are simply caretakers receiving back a part of the profits from our hard work. Do we view life and our work that way? Do we recognize that all that we “own” belongs not to us but to YHWH? Do we treat people and our things as if this is the case? Should we?