Who knew the Old Testament had detailed instructions for having to value men and women’s lives? Well, it does. And it’s not what you expect.
According to Leviticus 27:1-7, for example:
-The monetary value of men and women is, frankly, different (and measured in shekels). God instructs Moses, so the story goes, to monetize the sexes when the need for a “special vow” arises. Per the Old Testament, a female’s life is worth between 50-66 percent of a male’s life, depending on the age (more about that in a second…). A 15-year-old boy, for example, is worth twice as much as a 15-year-old girl. 20 shekels vs 10. A 40-year-old man is worth more than one and a half times the monetary value of a 40-year-old or 35 year-old woman. Etc, etc.
-Human life acquires no monetary value, per Leviticus, until the age of one month. (The politico-theologocial implications of this passage of the Bible are self-evident and, undoubtedly, contested semantically beyond belief for reasons too obvious and complicated to mention here.)
-And–my apologies to AARP–the old don’t count as much as the young, who count for more than the really young. Basically, the Good Book assumes life’s value rises from one-month through 60 years of age and then falls, precipitously, thereafter. Per Leviticus, a 30-year-old man’s life (50 shekels) is worth five times more than a 61-year-old woman’s (10 Shekels). A 40-year-old woman (30 shekels) is worth 10 three-year-old girls (3 s) or 6 two-year-old boys (5 s). And so on.
I’ve provided these Pixar-quality charts below for your calculating pleasure plus the beginning of the Old Testament passage that starts this whole complicated business of life off. Thanks, Leviticus 27!
(Coming next: how God’s instructions to Moses for valuing life compare with the most recent data from the US labor market, revealing contemporary values of men and women’s lives…)