Moses held his hand to his head, close-fisted but for the forefinger pointed up and the thumb pointed away, and concentrated.
Moses: God says that in order for men to have value, they must make certain… promises. (Leviticus 27:1)
Priest: What kind of promises?
Moses: I’m not your personal translator.
Priest: Okay? Why are we assigning value to men?
Moses: The prisons and orphanages are crowded with the remnants of God’s conquests on neighboring lands. If we sell ‘em off then we don’t have to feed ‘em anymore.
Priest: Why don’t we just ask people for food in exchange for blessings?
Moses: Look, it’s only fair that I make… I mean, God’s church makes a profit, right?
Priest: I suppose so. So like, what do we call it? Indentured Servitude, LLC?
Moses: Sure, whatever. Hey, God says men are worth almost twice as much as women.
Priest: That seems fair.
Moses: And young boys are worth less than men.
Priest: Boys, you say?
Moses: Also, the church needs beasts.
Priest: You said boys, right?
Moses: Try to focus. We can keep 10% of each herd that we bless.
Priest: How many shackles do we charge for boys?
Moses: Shekels1, Priest. We’ll charge shekels.
Priest: That’s what I said, shekels.
Thus it was that Moses, guided by the LORD, standardized slavery rates for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
Presently it came to be that, with the Lord’s monetary value of a man as his guide, Moses and friends managed the town’s auction block.
Moses: First up for bid, we have this young farm hand. Listed age is 25 – Priest, how do you value this young man?
Priest: He is a man in good condition of working age, he is worth at least 50 shackles. (Leviticus 27:3)
Moses: I believe you mean shekels. Very well, I’ll start the bidding at 50 shekels. Do I hear 50? Yes, 50, do I hear 55? 55, excellent! 60? Do I hear any bids for 60 shekels? No bids, sold for 60! Collect my money, Priest.
Priest: God’s money?
Moses: Uh, yeah. Next up, we have a young woman, estimated age is 29. Some child-bearing years left, and good in the kitchen. Priest, what is your estimate of her worth?
Priest: Oh, she is but a lowly woman, and certainly not worth as much as a man. Barely worth more than a boy. God would place her value at 30 shackles. (Leviticus 27:4)
Moses: Priest, there will be no more of this ‘shackle’ talk. I will remind you once again the currency is shekel. After all, we are decent, god-fearing, honest slave traders; and I want to make it clear we have not mistreated these slaves in any way.
Priest: Yes of course, how silly of me.
Moses: Yes, 30 shekels for this woman. Look, she is terrified and visibly shivering; perfectly ripe for indentured servitude! 30 shekels, yes! Do I have 35? 35 shekels? No? Sold!
It was in this manner that god, through his disciple, valued an old man at 15 shekels, and old woman at 10, a male baby at 5, a female baby at 3, and a young girl at 10. (Leviticus 27:5-27:7)
Moses: …And finally we have a ten year old boy. Found in a field with no identification and no parents to be seen. A strong young man, said to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! What are my bids for this fine young specimen?
Boy: I just want to go home.
Priest: Oh my, but I simply must keep him for myself! 15 – no, 20 shackles! (Leviticus 27:5)
Moses: Jesus Christ, man! For the last time, we’re charging shekels! Anyway, why are you cutting into our profit?
Priest: Hmm? Oh, yes, I must have misspoke. Yes, that's it. No shackles for this young man, no sir. Just let me keep him. Here, you can have the money I’ve saved.
Boy: Please help me.
It was thus that the church of the LORD prospered in order to spread His message of mercy2.
1 The silver ‘shekel’ varied in weight, but for our purposes we used the following conversion:
1 shekel = 10.5 grams
1 gram of silver = $0.50
1 shekel = 10.5*0.50 = $5.25
50 shekels = (10.5*0.50)*50 = $262.50
30 shekels = (10.5*0.50)*30 = $157.50