Doesn't Leviticus 27:29 indicate that God accepted human sacrifices?

Question:

Dear Mr. Hamilton,

In Leviticus 27:28, you say Jephtah's daughter could not be redeemed, but Leveticus 27:29 says, "No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death." Doesn't it mean that Jephtah's daughter should have been put to death and that human sacrifice were OK?


Answer:

"Nevertheless, anything which a man sets apart to the LORD out of all that he has, of man or animal or of the fields of his own property, shall not be sold or redeemed. Anything devoted to destruction is most holy to the LORD. No one who may have been set apart among men shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death" (Leviticus 27:28-29).

Leviticus 27:28 states that something a man sets apart to the Lord cannot be redeemed. Leviticus 27:29 is a second category of things which cannot be redeemed. In this case they are people who have been set apart (or "under a ban"). It is referring to people that God has devoted to destruction. For example, the city of Jericho was placed under a ban by God, "The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent" (Joshua 6:17).

God placed certain people under a ban because of the sins they were involved. Leviticus 27:29 is stating that when this happens there is no compromise or making money from it. The death penalty must be carried out. Another example are the Amalekites, "Therefore it shall come about when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget" (Deuteronomy 25:19). This was supposed to have been carried out by Saul. "Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (I Samuel 25:3). However, Saul tried to spare some of what was devoted to destruction and for that he lost his kingship (I Samuel 25:10-35).

But notice that it is God who determines who is under a ban and devoted to destruction -- not men. When men devote something to God, it falls under the rules in Leviticus 27:28. The verb in this verse is active, indicating that man is doing it. When God declares something to be under a ban, it falls under the rules of Leviticus 27:29. The verb in this verse is passive indicating that someone else is doing the devotion, which by implication is God.