31[5] I will destroy your cities so completely that even passersby will find no reason to enter them. [6] Inasmuch as your cities will be razed, I will by that very fact make your holy places desolate, devoid of the throngs of pilgrims that used to visit them. [7] I will therefore not be able to derive any pleasure from your sacrifices, which you would have offered up to please Me.

32Despite all these punishments, I will still have mercy on you: Although I will indeed make the land desolate of its inhabitants, it will be deserted also by your enemies, who will try unsuccessfully to live in it. Thus, they will have no desire to claim it as their own.

33 I will scatter you among the nations, spreading you so thinly that you will not be able to take comfort from one another in your exile. I will unsheathe the sword after you persistently, allowing your enemies to harass you constantly. Since you will not return to it quickly, your land will be persistently desolate; since you will despair of returning to it, you will view your cities as beingtruly destroyed.

34 Then, the land will appease Me over its unobserved sabbatical years. During the entire time that it remains desolate while you are exiled in the land of your enemies, the land will rest and thus appease Me over its unobserved sabbatical years.

35I will be appeased in this way because during the entire time that the land remains desolate, it will rest the way it should have rested during your sabbatical years, when you lived upon it.

A Closer Look

[34-35] Over its unobserved sabbatical years: Like most of the commandments applicable only in the Land of Israel, the observance of the sabbatical and Jubilee years did not take effect until the land had been conquered and divided up. This process took 14 years, so the first year of the first sabbatical cycle was 2503, the 15th year after the people entered the land in the year 2489. An additional 835 years passed until the destruction of the First Temple in the year 3338. Of these 835 years, we are told that there were 436 during which the years that should have been observed as sabbatical and Jubilee years were not. Every 50-year period contains 8 years of rest: 7 sabbatical years and 1 Jubilee year. Thus, since 400 years contain eight full 50-year periods (8 x 50 = 400), it contains 64 years of rest (8 x 8). The remaining 36 of the 436 years contain 5 sabbatical cycles (5 x 7 = 35) plus one year—the first of the next sabbatical cycle—which the people did not plan to observe properly either, and was therefore accounted as if they did not in fact. Thus, there were a total of 70 years of rest (64 + 5 + 1) that were not observed in this period. Correspondingly, the exile that began with the destruction of the Second Temple lasted exactly 70 years.1

36 As for those of you who survive the harassment you will suffer in exile, I will bring chronic timidity into their hearts for as long as they are exiled in the lands of their enemies. They will be so paranoid that the sound of a rustling leaf will pursue them; they will flee as if fleeing the sword, and they will fall, even though there is in fact no pursuer.

37 Each man will stumble over his brother Israelite, fleeing as if from the sword, although there is no pursuer. You will not even be able to stand up to face your enemies. Furthermore, you will—at that time2—be held accountable for each other’s wrongdoings, so each of you will figuratively ‘fall’ because of the other’s faults.

38 You will become lost to one another, due to having been scattered among the nations. The land of your enemies will figuratively consume you as you die and are buried in it.

39 Those of you who survive will, on account of their iniquity, waste away in the lands of your enemies. If the iniquities of their fathers are still with them, in that they persist in the same misbehavior their forebears were guilty of, they will waste away on that account also.

40 They will then confess both their own iniquity and their fathers’ iniquity, namely, their unfaithfulness by which they betrayed Me, and also how they stubbornly walked with Me—i.e., performed My commandments—irregularly,

41 for which I will have treated them reciprocally with furious stubbornness and brought them into the land of their enemies. Even though they will have only confessed their sins but not yet regretted them or resolved not to repeat them, I will, in this merit, send them prophets and teachers to remind them that they remain My people, in order that they not be tempted to assimilate into their host nations. Perhaps then, their clogged heart will become humbled, and they will at least regret what they have done (even if they are not yet ready to resolve not to repeat their misdeeds in the future). If so, their sufferings will appease Me for their iniquity—whereas had they repented fully, that itself would have appeased Me.

42Since, as stated, they will still not have repented fully, I will have to invoke the merits of their forbears to redeem them:3 I will remember first My covenant with Jacob, who foresaw your exile and took pains to ensure that you would be redeemed.4 It is true that he accrued the least merit of all the forefathers, since he did not have to oppose the influences of his milieu as they did. But since all his children became progenitors of the Jewish people—whereas not all of Abraham’s or Isaac’s children did—his merit should be invoked first, in order that it be channeled specifically to your aid. If his merit proves insufficient to redeem them, I will also add to his merit My covenant with Isaac, the memory of whose binding as a sacrifice is in any case always in the forefront of My consciousness, as Abraham requested.5 If their combined merit proves insufficient, I will also remember My covenant with Abraham and add his merit to theirs.6 I will also remember the empty, desolate Promised Land,

43for, as mentioned previously,7 the land will have been forsaken by them in order to thereby appease Me over its unobserved sabbatical years by being devoid of them. Through this, too, they will appease Me for their iniquity. This was all in retribution for their many sins, as mentioned above, but only in retribution for their having despised My ordinances and for their having rejected My rules; I exacted no retribution for their having rejected Me.8

44 For despite doing all this to them while they are in the land of their enemies, I will nevertheless neither despise nor reject them, i.e., proceed to annihilate them, therebybreaking My covenant with them, for I am God, their God. I can be relied upon to keep My promise.

45Therefore, I will remember, for their benefit, the covenant I made with their forbears whom I took out from Egypt before the eyes of all the nations, to be a God to them.9 I am God.”

46The contents of the Book of Leviticus up to this point are the rules, ordinances, and laws—both written and oral—that God gave between Himself and the Israelites at the foot of10 Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses. The following laws, in contrast, apply equally to Jews and non-Jews.11

Donating the Value of Human Life

Fourth Reading (Sixth when combined) 27:1God spoke to Moses, saying,

2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When a person, whether Jew or non-Jew,articulates a vow, pledging an endowment of lives—i.e., of a living person or a vital organ of a living person—to God, i.e., to the Tabernacle treasury,

3 the fixed monetary endowment he will have thereby obligated himself to pay for having pledged the life of a male person will be dependent solely upon the age of the person whose value he pledged, as follows: If the person whose life is being pledged is from 20 to 60 years old, the endowment will be 50 shekels of silver, the shekel being valued according to the weight of the sacred shekel, i.e., the shekel I have designated for use in all holy purposes: 20 gerah per shekel12[by which 50 shekels equals 800 g or 1.76 lb].

4 If the person whose life is being pledgedis a female, the endowment will be 30 shekels [480 g or 1.05 lb].

5 If the person is from five to 20 years old, the endowment for a male will be 20 shekels [320 g or 11.2 oz], while that for a female will be 10 shekels [160 g or 5.6 oz].

6 If the person is from one month to five years old, the endowment for a male will be five shekels [80 g or 2.8 oz] of silver, while the endowment for a female will be three shekels [48 g or 1.68 oz] of silver.

7 If the person is 60 years old or over, then for a male, the endowment will be 15 shekels [240 g or 8.4 oz]; and for a female, it will be 10 shekels [160 g or 5.6 oz]. Thus, you see that in their advanced years, the woman’s endowment-value approaches that of the man, for women naturally mellow with age more than men.

8 If the person who made the pledge is too poor to pay the above-stated endowment for whatever type of person whose life he has pledged, the pledger must present the person whose life he pledged before the priest, and the priest must evaluate this person in accordance with how much the pledger can afford, leaving him only his bare necessities and the tools of his trade so he can earn his livelihood.

Exchanging, Substituting, and Redeeming Sacrifices

9 If a person pledges part of an animal whose type is fit to be brought as an offering to God (i.e., cattle, sheep, or goats), the value of whatever part of it the person is donating to God will become holy: The said animal must be sold to someone who needs to offer up such an animal as a sacrifice; the proceeds of the sale are given to the pledger, minus the value of the limb he pledged, which is given to the Tabernacle treasury.

10Once someone has consecrated an animal by designating it to be offered up as a sacrifice, he must not exchange it with someone else’s animal nor substitute one of his own animals for it, whether he proposes to exchange or substitute a good (i.e., unblemished) unconsecrated one for a bad (i.e., blemished) consecrated one, which cannot be sacrificed—thereby seeking to provide the institution of the Tabernacle with an animal that can be sacrificed; or whether he proposes to exchange or substitute a bad (i.e., blemished) unconsecrated one for a good (i.e., unblemished) consecrated one—thereby appropriating for himself the more valuable animal. Since it is forbidden to exchange or substitute sanctified animals even when doing so would be to the advantage of the institution of the Tabernacle, it is self-evident that it is forbidden to do so when there is no such advantage, i.e, to exchange or substitute a blemished unconsecrated animal for a blemished consecrated one or an unblemished unconsecrated animal for an unblemished consecrated one.

If he nevertheless does substitute one animal for another animal, both it and its replacement will be holy. If the substituted animal is blemished, the proceeds of its sale may not be used to purchase sacrifices but only for the upkeep of the Tabernacle.

11Although it is forbidden to exchange or substitute an unconsecrated animal for a consecrated one, it is permitted to redeem a consecrated animal, but only if it is a ‘defiled, i.e., blemished animal, which by virtue of its blemish may not be brought as an offering to God. If someone wishes to redeem this animal,he must present the animal before the priest.

12 The priest must then evaluate it, deciding whether it is good (i.e., of high monetary value) or bad (i.e., of low monetary value), or in between. According to the evaluation of the priest, so will be its redemption value. The person wishing to redeem the animal will then pay this amount to the priest. The money will thereby become sanctified in that it must be used by the Tabernacle treasury to purchase animals for sacrifice, and the animal will revert to being unconsecrated, permitted for any non-sacred use by its redeemer.

13 But if the animal’s original owner redeems it, he does not simply pay the value attached to it by the priest; he must add its fifth to its value.

Donating and Redeeming Property

14A person is allowed to consecrate his house to the Tabernacle. In such a case, the house becomes the property of the Tabernacle treasury, which can then sell (‘redeem’) the house. The sale (‘redemption’) money must be used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, whereas the redeemed house reverts to its original, non-consecrated status. The full procedure is as follows: If a man consecrates his house to be holy to God, and someone else then wishes to redeem it, the priest must evaluate it, deciding whether it is good (i.e., of high monetary value) or bad (i.e., of low monetary value), or in between. Its monetary value will be established in accordance with how the priest evaluates it, and this is the value that must be paid by anyone wishing to redeem the house from the Tabernacle treasury.

15 But if the person who originally consecrated it redeems his own house, he does not simply pay the value attached to it by the priest; he must add to it a fifth of its valuation money, and only then will it be his.

Fifth Reading (Seventh when combined)16The following donation-laws only pertain to Jews, but since these donations, too, are subject to the rule that a fifth of their value must be added in order for them to be redeemed by their original owners, their laws are placed here.13

Similar to a house, a person is allowed to consecrate his field to the Tabernacle. In such a case, the field becomes the property of the Tabernacle treasury, which can then redeem the field. The redemption money must be used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, whereas the redeemed field reverts to its original, non-consecrated status. The full procedure is as follows: If a man consecrates a part of his inherited field to God and someone then wishes to redeem it, the value he must pay will not reflect its market value butwill be determined solely according to its capacity for sowing: An area that can be sown with a chomer [248 liter, or 7 bushel] of barley seed will be valued at 50 shekels [800 g or 1.76 lb] of silver.

17Now, a person may only consecrate his inherited field until the next Jubilee year, as will be explained presently. Therefore, if he consecrates his field immediately after the Jubilee yearhas ended, and someone else wishes to redeem it from the Tabernacle treasury immediately,it will retain its full redemption value, i.e., 50 shekels per area that can be sown by a chomer of barley seed.

18 But if he consecrates his field more than a year after the Jubilee year has ended, the priest must calculate the money thatthe person redeeming the field must pay in accordance with the remaining years until the next Jubilee year, and the difference between the full value and this proportionate amount will be deducted from the full value in order to arrive at the amount that he has to pay. Similarly, if the field remains in the possession of the Tabernacle treasury for a number of years, its redemption price must be adjusted accordingly.

In addition, the redeemer must pay the moneychanger’s commission, which will be fixed at 1/2352 of a shekel [7 mg or 0.105 grain] of silver per year for which the redeemer is paying.

Thus, if a is the number of areas sown by 50 chomer of barley seed involved in the transaction, and b is the number of years left until the Jubilee year when the field is dedicated, and c is the number of years since the previous Jubilee year when the field is redeemed, the redemption value of the field is given by the following formula:

which reduces to

19 If the person who consecrated it redeems the field, he must add to it a fifth of the prorated valuation money, and only then will it be his.

20 If the person who consecrated it does not redeem the field by the next Jubilee year, or if the Tabernacle treasurer has sold the field to someone else in the interim, it may no longer be redeemed by the person who consecrated it.

21Nor does it revert to its original owner in the Jubilee year. Rather, when the field leaves the possession of the Tabernacle treasury or the purchaser in the Jubilee year, it will be holy to God like a dedicated field, which means, as will be explained,14 that the original owner’s inherited property will belong to the priest. The field will be divided up among the priestly division15 serving during the week in which the Day of Atonement of the Jubilee year occurs.

Sixth Reading22Similarly, if someone consecrates to God a field that he had purchased, which is not one of his inherited fields, and then either he or someone else wishes to redeem it,

23 the priest must calculate for him the amount of the field’s value remaining until the Jubilee year according to the same formula given above for an inherited field. The redeemer must give the priest the value as calculated on that day in order to redeem the field. The money given to the Tabernacle treasury for the field will be holy to God, i.e., it must be used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle.

24Whether or not the consecrated field is redeemed, the field must revert in the Jubilee year to the one from whom the person who consecrated it bought it, namely, the one whose inherited land it was originally. Unlike an inherited field that was consecrated, it is not divided up among the priestly division serving during the week in which the Day of Atonement of the Jubilee year occurs.

25 Every valuation in these laws must be made according to the sacred shekel, whereby one shekel is the equivalent of twenty gerahs.

Firstborn Animals

26 Although in general, when you consecrate an animal, you may designate it to be any type of sacrifice you wish, no man may consecrate a firstborn animal as any other type of sacrifice, since it must by law be sacrificed to God only as a firstborn.16 Thus, whether it be an ox, a sheep, or a goat, it belongs to God from birth and, as such, is not yours to consecrate.

You may, however, give the firstborn animal to any priest you wish (thereby giving him and his family the animal’s meat to eat, since only the fat is burned on the Altar17), and this right you may dedicate to the Tabernacle. Practically, this means that we determine how much money someone else would pay you for the privilege of telling you which priest to give the animal to. (He might do this, for example, if his daughter or sister is married to a priest, and his grandson or nephew is therefore a priest.) You must then give the priest that amount of money in addition to the animal itself.18

Redeeming Consecrated Entities

27 If someone consecrates a spiritually defiled animal (i.e., an animal forbidden for consumption19), he may redeem it by paying its value, but he must add its fifth to it. If it is not redeemed by its original owner, andthe Tabernacle treasury wishes to sell it, it must be sold according to its value alone; the buyer does not need to pay the additional fifth. In either case, the money paid by the owner or the buyer must be used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle.


28Another way of giving something to God (besides “consecrating” it) is by “segregating” it. Property may be segregated either for the priests—in which case it is given to the division of priests serving in the Tabernacle at that time—or for the Tabernacle treasury. If a person segregates something without specifying whether it is to be given to the priests or the Tabernacle, God has left it up to the court to decide, in each case, whether the segregated item should be given to the priests20 or to the Tabernacle treasury.

“Segregating” something is more absolute than “consecrating” it; thus, although it is generally possible to redeem something that has been consecrated to God, anything that a person segregates for God from any of his property—whether it be the person of his non-Jewish bondservant, an animal, or part of his inherited field—if he segregates it for the priests, it may neither be sold nor redeemed until it comes into their possession. Once they assume possession of it, however, they may use it any way they see fit.

If, in contrast, the segregated item is given to the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle treasury may sell it or allow it to be redeemed by its original owner; the proceeds of the sale or redemption must then be used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle. In such a case, there is no practical difference between segregating and consecrating.21

Any segregation of animals that have been designated as sacrifices, whether sacrifices of superior holiness or lesser holiness, must be given to God, as follows.

It was explained previously22 that a person may undertake to offer up a voluntary sacrifice either by means of a vow or a dedication. If the offerer originally vowed to bring a sacrifice (by saying, “I undertake to bring such and such a sacrifice”), then designated a specific animal to be used for this purpose, and finally “segregated” that animal to the priests, he cannot give the animal itself to the priests (since he had already consecrated it as a sacrifice and it is no longer his). However, since he is still responsible for replacing the animal if it dies or becomes lost, he is still considered to possess its monetary value; he must therefore give this monetary value to the priests.

If, however, he originally dedicated the animal (by saying, “This animal is to be offered up as such and such a sacrifice”), he is not required to replace it if it dies or becomes lost (since he only undertook to offer up this particular animal as a sacrifice, not to bring a specific sacrifice no matter what). Thus, his only share in this animal is the gratification he gets from offering up a voluntary sacrifice. Therefore, if he “segregates” this animal to the priests, he must only pay them the monetary value of this intangible gratification, which is determined by ascertaining how much an average person would pay for the gratification of having a voluntary sacrifice offered up on his behalf.

Seventh Reading29If someone segregates to the Tabernacle treasury the value of a person who has been condemned to death by the court, his declaration has no legal import. Any segregation of the value of such a person who has been so segregated cannot be redeemed and paid to the Tabernacle treasury. Since the person is to be put to death, he has no monetary value in this regard.

Redeeming the Second Tithe

30You will be taught later23 that every year (except for sabbatical and Jubilee years), you must tithe the grain you grow and the wine and oil you produce and give these tithes to the Levites. From what remains after this first tithe, you must then remove a second tithe; in the first, second, fourth, and fifth years of the sabbatical cycle, you must take this second tithe to the Temple city and consume it there24 while ritually undefiled.25 All such produce that you must set aside as thesecond tithe of the land—whether it be from the seed of the land, i.e., grain, or the fruit of the tree, i.e., wine or oilbelongs to God. He requires you to consume it in the Temple city while ritually undefiled; it is thus holy to God and must be consumed in this way.

31You will be taught further that if you live too far away from the Temple city to transport all your second-tithe produce there, you may transfer its holiness to an amount of money equal to its monetary value, and then take that money to the Temple city in order to use it to purchase other foodstuffs there; you must then consume these foodstuffs in the Temple city just as you would have consumed your own tithed produce. Once the original second tithe’s holy status has been transferred from it, it may be eaten anywhere.26

In such a case, if someone redeems some of his own second tithe, he must add its fifth of its value to the redemption money. If, however, someone redeems another person’s second tithe, he does not need to add the additional fifth.

Tithing Animals

Maftir32Just as you are required to tithe every year’s produce, so must you tithe all cattle, sheep, and goats born every year. Gather all such animals (each species separately) in a pen, open the gate enough to allow them to exit single file, and as they leave, mark with red paint every tenth animal as a tithe. All tithes of cattle or flock—i.e., all that pass under the red-painted rod—every such tenth animal will be holy to God, meaning that you must bring it to the Temple city, sacrifice it, and have its fats burned up on the Altar, similar to a peace-offering. However, unlike regular peace-offerings, you do not have to give the priests any of its meat; you, your family, and your guests may eat all its meat yourselves, as long as you do so in the Temple city.27 Furthermore, you must not use these animals (before they are sacrificed) to do work in your field, nor may you shear them for their wool.

33When tithing his animals, the owner must not select a choice one to be the tithe, even though you will be instructed later on28 to offer up your choicest animals as sacrifices. Furthermore, you may not even distinguish between a good (i.e., unblemished) one or a bad (i.e., blemished) one, because the tenth animal must be treated as “holy” even if it is blemished. Although, as you know,29 you are not permitted to offer up a blemished animal as a sacrifice, you must nonetheless eat it with the intention to thereby fulfill the commandment to eat the animal tithe,30 and until you slaughter it you may not use it to do work in the field, shear it, or, if you cannot eat it all by yourself, sell its meat by weight, but only by approximate estimation.

As is the case with all consecrated animals,31 the owner may not substitute another animal for it. If he nevertheless does substitute another animal for it, then both it and its replacement will be holy; both must be treated as tithed animals.

Finally, although, like the second tithe, it must be eaten in the Temple city, unlike the second tithe, it may not be redeemed.’ ”

34 These are the commandments that God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites at the foot of32 Mount Sinai.