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Leviticus 27:16-24 covers the rules around dedicating land to the Lord. This process begins when a righteous follower of God wants to earn a little extra status among his peers by giving up a portion of his land.

Next, the priests come to the land and measure it, but they donít measure its size, the quantity of precious minerals it contains, or its strategic location, they measure only how much barley seed it would take to sow the plantable areas. You probably didnít know this, but the value of land is based strictly on how much barley seed it takes to cover it; not wheat or sorghum, barley. Later translations just use the generic term ďseedĒ rather than barley, but regardless, this means that a plain field is intrinsically more valuable than a field with a river because you can grow more crops without the river taking up space. It doesnít matter that the river is a source of fresh water, fish, transportation, energy, and gold. Obviously, God has never played Sid Meierís Civilization!

If the field is dedicated on Jubilee, the price is set at about 19 troy ounces of silver for every 200 liters of barley needed to sow the area. If the dedication occurs after Jubilee, the priests are expected to decrease the price based on the proximity of the next Jubilee. If the owner wants the land back, they have until the next Jubilee to redeem the land at 1/5 above the price. Once the next Jubilee occurs, even though God recently said that you canít permanently lose your land, the land becomes the permanent property of the priests. I guess living like a king in the tabernacle isnít nearly as awesome as living like a king with your own kingdom. It is not mentioned when the land dedicator has to pay the money to the priests, but I would assume they must pay either at the initial dedication, or at the Jubilee when they lose control of their land. The only saving grace here is that if a man dedicates land that he bought from someone else, the land doesnít go to the priests on Jubilee, but rather back to the original owner.

At the end of this passage, God reminds the Israelites that all of these transactions and estimates must be done according to the official Tabernacle Shekel, because God doesnít fool around with yen!



0123456789 writes:


That's why in later Civilization games rivers flow "between" tiles, not through.

Maju writes:


A river is not land: you can't buy and sell rivers, only their shores. Rivers are always public, just like the sea.

Said that, a plot near a river (or on top of an aquifer) may well be more productive indeed, but you can't still own water as if it was land (at least in most jurisdictions).

TheAlmightyGuru writes:


@Maju: My state (Michigan) has interesting laws about rivers. If you own land with a river running through it, you don't own the water, but you do own the riverbed. So, if someone wants to canoe through your land, it's not trespassing unless they touch a bank, or stand in the water.

However, possession of any property is purely a social construct. So, if we decided that people could own rivers, lakes, and oceans, then they could.

Baughbe writes:


According to my research, the bed and banks (up to the high water line) of any navigatable waterway is owned by the state and held in trust for the public. This was determined by the Supreme Court. Problem is, what is determined as navigatable is a little nebulous (a river/creek/etc with shallows and/or waterfalls can still be considered navigatable). And what the legal state of any non-navigatable waterway is I could not find.

wyn writes:


I think this discussion is rather pointless, seeing how not every culture in the world has the same laws regarding ownership of rivers and neither did the cultures back then. And as long as the bible doesn't say, wether or not you can own running water, we won't be sure, if the ancient hebrews could...

Maju writes:


In my country rural land must be accessible to travelers: trespassing only works for particularly defined areas not generic land plots. This was also achieved in Britain but only after long struggles. But in any case, at least over here, you can't own rivers. What may happen is that if a river (naturally) changes course and it is a boundary: one owner loses and another wins.

"However, possession of any property is purely a social construct. So, if we decided that people could own rivers, lakes, and oceans, then they could".

Agreed in the essentials. Just that possession is not the same as property: if I squat a land or a home, I do possess it even if I'm not the legal owner. In some cases (particularly homes) possession gives some rights, like police not being legally able to enter without a judicial order. Possession is factual, property is legal, and they may be in contradiction. If you possess (work, use) a land for enough time without reclaim from the legal owner you may even gain property, although the law was amended decades ago in order to make this almost impossible (I think you need 30 years now, what is an extremely long and unlikely time). Also if you legally rent a home or land for your own use, you possess it (and have some related rights), regardless of the eminent rights of the proprietary: my tenant for example cannot enter my home without my permission, he does not even have a copy of the keys. It is my possession, even if it is his property.

anonymous writes:


The whole dedication thing is starting to sound like loans. Since the priests would have lots of money, this makes sense. The paying 1/5 over the value of whatever it is BACK implies that something was given to the person dedicating whatever it is. "You brought us this animal, here's some money, pay us back in <days> if you don't want us to kill it", and similar things with regards to one's family and land? Priests need those indentured servants, houses, and animals!


Oh the irony!