the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Estimate differs greatly from APPRAISEMENT. The latter is a valuation put upon land or upon some commodity by men acting in a judicial capacity; the former is a sort of valuation made by the Mosaic law itself, mostly independentof the actual value, and oftener upon persons than on things. While appraisement is always a matter of jurisprudence, estimates, in the technical sense of the word, belong in the category of sacerdotal laws.
The estimates for persons of either sex and of any age, and for fields, are given in the traditional law on the subject, which is elaborated in the treatise 'Arakin of the Mishnah and in the two Talmuds thereto.
The text in Leviticus provides that where a man by his vow consecrates a person to the Lord, the estimate shall be: for a male from one month to five years, five shekels; from five to twenty years, twenty shekels of silver; from twenty to sixty years, fifty shekels; over sixty years, fifteen shekels; for a female of like ages, three, fifteen, thirty, and ten shekels respectively. If the person who made the vow is poor, the priest is allowed to lower the regular estimate.
Estimates of Animals.
The consecration of a clean beast must be carried out literally. An unclean beast is estimated by the priest: it is here a real valuation. One-fifth is to be added by the master in redeeming. The same applies to a house. A field of a man's possession (that is, descended to him in his tribe) is estimated at fifty shekels for each omer of barleyseed it requires; but if some years have expired since the jubilee, the estimate is lessened in proportion. One-fifth is added on redemption. A "bought" field is similarly estimated according to the number of years to the jubilee, but in any case then goes back to the former owner. The shekel is that of the sanctuary, and is therefore equal in value to twenty gerahs.
One who is in his last gasp, or about to be executed, can be estimated; for the price is fixed. The estimate to be paid by a poor man can not be lessened below one shekel; but if he has more money about him, he must give it all up to the limit (R. MeÃ¯r dissents). The estimate of inherited land is wholly aside from the value. "The parks or pleasure-gardens of Sebaste are redeemed at the same figure as the worn-out space round the city wall" ('Ar. 3:2).
The difference between the field of possession and a bought field is this: one-fifth must be added in redeeming the former, but not in redeeming the latter. Speaking generally, if a rich person consecrates a poor one, he must pay the full, or rich man's, estimate; but the poor man, even though he consecrates a rich man, need pay only the poor man's estimate.
Passing by the definitions which the treatise 'Arakin gives of various vows, some special consecrations engage notice: "I owe the estimate of my hand or of my foot," means nothing; "I owe the estimate of my head," or of "my liver," is the same as "my estimate" simply; for a man can not live without head or liver. "I owe half my estimate," means paying half. "I owe the estimate of half of myself," means the full sum; for one can not live with half his body. The law does not allow the redemption of consecrated land to be made in yearly instalments, but the whole amount must be paid at one time.
The treasurer of the sanctuary may distrain the goods of the person causing the estimate for the amount; but the same exemptions must be set aside to him as are set aside to other debtors. In fact, the passage in 'Arakin (Mishnah 6:3), which sets forth what is exempt from the treasurer's distraint, is the source of the exemption law found in the codes. The sanctuary may also, like a bond creditor, pursue the lands of the obligor in the hands of his heirs.
A distinction is found in 'Arakin between "vowing" a person and causing him to be estimated: the former implies the price which the particular person would bring if sold as a slave, which may be more or less than the estimate. One may consecrate, and thus cause to be estimated, either himself or some one else. Only minors, deaf-mutes, and lunatics can not consecrate; all but children less than a month old may be consecrated. A heathen, according to the prevailing opinion, may consecrate, but can not be estimated.
According to Leviticus 27:21, as construed in the Mishnah (7:3), the vows which are redeemable in estimates go to the priesthood as an organized whole. Hence the whole system fell into disuse with the destruction of the Temple. It is therefore not touched upon in the modern codes (Arba' á¹¬urim and Shulá¸¥an 'Aruk); Maimonides, however, aiming here as he does elsewhere to cover the whole traditional law, has his hilkot 'Arakin wa-á¸¤aramin. It is needless to follow the subject into further details.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Estimate'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​e/estimate.html. 1901.