The name of this week’s parasha is Bechukotai, which means “in my statutes,” and covers Leviticus 26:3-27:34. This parasha lists blessings for obeying God’s commandments; penalties for disobeying God’s commandments; and valuations for people, animals and property given to God. If the Israelis obey Adonai’s commandments, they would be blessed with timely rainfall, abundant food, peace and security, increased population, and God would dwell and walk among them – He will be their God, and they will be His people.
However, their disobedience would bring consequences: terror; illnesses; loss of crops to enemies; defeat and domination by enemies; living in fear. If the Israelis didn’t turn from their sin, God would severely and thoroughly punish them through the loss of crops and fruit; wild animals destroying their population and cattle; bringing punishment which executes vengeance for the covenant; outbreak of plague and defeat by their enemies; their lack of food; their engagement in cannibalism by eating their sons and daughters; Adonai’s destruction of their false religious practices; His destruction of their cities and desolation of their sanctuaries; His rejection of their offerings; His desolation of their land; and their exile among the nations. Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths while it’s desolate, while the Israelis are exiled in their enemies’ land; it will observe the rest that wasn’t observed when the Israelis lived there. The survivors will live in fear and perish. They will rot away in their enemies’ land; and because of their forefathers’ sins, they will rot away with them.
However, Adonai declares that if His people confess their sins and their fathers’ sins – which brought God’s hostility against them – or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they make amends for their sin, He will remember His covenant with Jacob and His covenant with Isaac and His covenant with Abraham, and He will remember the land. Although the Israelis will be outside the land and will be making amends for their disobedience, God won’t reject or destroy them, which would break His covenant with them. For their sake, He will remember the covenant with their ancestors when He brought them out of Egypt. The chapter ends by stating these are the decrees, laws and regulations that Adonai established on Mount Sinai between Himself and the Israelis through Moses.
Chapter 27 discusses valuations for people, animals and property given to Adonai. People were valued based on age and gender – if the specified amount couldn’t be paid, the priest would determine their value based on what the one who vowed could pay.
Any vowed animal that was acceptable as an offering to God became holy; a good animal couldn’t be replaced or exchanged for a bad animal, and vice versa – if a substitution was made, both animals became holy. If it’s a vowed unclean animal that was unacceptable as an offering to God, the priest would determine its value – if the person wanted to redeem it, they would add 1/5th of it to its valuation. If someone consecrated their house to Adonai, the priest would determine its value; if the person consecrating the house wanted to redeem it, they would add 1/5 of the valuation price to it.
If someone consecrates part of their field to God, its value is determined by the necessary amount of seed – it remains constant if consecrated during the Jubilee year; if consecrated after the Jubilee year, the priest will set its price based on the years left until the Jubilee year, deducting it from the value. If the person consecrating it wants to redeem it, they must add 1/5 of the valuation price to it. If the field is sold to someone else, it can’t be redeemed – if it’s released in the Jubilee year, it’s holy and becomes the priest’s property.
If someone consecrates a field they purchased, which is separate from their own property, the priest shall determine its value up to the Jubilee year; however, the field would return to its original owner in the Jubilee year.
A first-born animal couldn’t be consecrated; it already belonged to God. If an unclean animal is redeemed, it’s redeemed according to its valuation and 1/5th of its value is added to it; if it’s not redeemed, it’s sold according to its valuation. Anything set apart to Adonai can’t be redeemed. Anything devoted to destruction is holy – no one set apart could be ransomed but must be put to death.
A tithe of produce belongs to God – if someone wants to redeem part of their tithe, they must add to it 1/5th of it. For every tenth portion of the herd or flock, the tenth one will be holy. It doesn’t matter whether the animal is good or bad, and one animal can’t be exchanged for another; or both become holy and can’t be redeemed. The parasha ends by declaring these are the commandments which Adonai commanded Moses for the Israelis on Mount Sinai.
Parasha Bechukotai shows us that obeying God’s commandments brings blessings, while disobedience brings punishments. When the Israelis obeyed God’s commandments, He blessed them; however, their disobedience to His commandments eventually led to their exile from the Promised Land, which enjoyed its Sabbath rests during its desolation. However, God was faithful to His promises and preserved the Israelis, who eventually returned to their land.
We also see that what God’s people give back to Him, whether a tithe or another type of offering, reflects their devotion to Him, because what a person desires is shown through their actions. Since Adonai gives us everything we have, let’s obey Him and trust Him to provide everything we need by cheerfully giving back to Him according to His direction and for His glory.
Living in obedience to Adonai means doing what He commands of us, so if you haven’t done so already, turn from your rebellion to obedience by obeying what God has commanded and loyally following Messiah Yeshua as Lord and Savior!