The book is very insightful and informative about the history of tithing and giving in the Church. The book is a fascinating journey into the land, language and literature of the Israelite people and their tithing practices. The author meticulously examines tithe verses and brings to light their meaning using the Hebrew and Greek language. Even if one does not agree with his analysis, it would be difficult to dismiss what the author’s findings reveal. If a person seeks to gain a real understanding and education about tithing and its original meaning, this book is a good place to begin your theological research journey. They say knowledge is power and this book certainly contains a lot of knowledge. Get a copy at http://www.fcpublishing.com/about_kle….
Do you really want to know the truth about tithing? Read this investigative manifesto before you commit to tithing ten percernt of your income.
It has been several years now since I discovered the truth tithing. From the very beginning of my journey I set out to study and find the truth about about the motivations behind the stranglehold tradition of paying ten percent of your income to a church. Today is Sunday, February 19th and their won’t be a sermon that won’t discuss tithing and how it is important for every believer to hand over ten percent or be cursed by God. For 30 years, I was sujected to that teaching and lived in fear of a curse from God. But when I put those mandatory tithing teachings under the microscope of scriptural hermanutics and exegesis, the monetary tithe doctrine didn’t pass the smell test. To my amazement, I was simply stunned at my ignorance of how easy tithe teachings could be proven false. Below, is one of my first video interviews I had with a friend some years ago. It was the first time I had discussed tithing in a video. The video was my first attempt to explain tithing. I look back at it now, are realize what I know now about tithing was far more than I knew during the video.
Why do people seem to choose ignorance over truth? Even when scriptural evidence overwhelmingly proves tithing is not money and never has been, some will fall on the sword of ignorance to prove tithing is ten percent of a person’s income. Falsehood in any form can have a powerful impact on what people believe. We know this is true becuase at one time in human history, people believed the world was flat, even when scientist said the world was round. And we know that those who questioned the validity of a flat earth didn’t fair well with what religion taught as that time. It is religion still that keeps the false monetary tithe doctrine alive with the use of fear tactics to make sure people do not question whether tithing is money or food. One of the things I did was to study the Bible on money. That’s because I wanted to be sure that no Israelite paid a tithe in money, i.e gold, silver or shekels. One way to determine if money was tithed in the Bible is to study every single scriptural verse to see if any of them indicate whether money was tithed to the temple or the tent of meeting. A large portion of my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway deals with money in the Bible. In every verse that references money, their was never an instance where individuals paid a tenth of income to the temple. So in the face of this unquestionable evidence, why would a pastor, pew sitter or church member swallow the monetary tithe doctrine when the Bible disputes that a tithe is ten percent of a person’s income.
In Chapter 6 of my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? I titled the chapter, Show Me the Money. I examine many Bible verses that reference money, and I never found one instance of someone paying tithe money. Imagine what would happen if you were told all your life that a tithe is ten percent of income, only to discover that it was not true and that biblically a tithe can only be eatible items such as crops and cattle. In my mind, I was simple blown away by the facts. Then afterwards, how would I deal with this newfound truth and how would others respond when I this news with them? For me, others didn’t take it so well and thought I was losing my mind. I studied really hard becuause at first I doubted what I reading in books and what I heard in videos. But the more I researched and read in books, my cognitive dissonance about tithing being ten percent of income took a back seat to the indisputable truth. Studying the money verses in the Bible put the nail in the proverbial coffin of tithing ten percent income. For an example, I will share an excerpt from chapter 6, Show Me the Money, from my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? Read and study the verse and determine for yourself if you can squeeze tithe money of any of the verses in chapter 6 of the excerpt.
Show Me the Money
“Cold hard cash plays a role in our society and in the church. The money tithe system is the major source of income for the modern church institution. To sustain the influx of money, people must invent fundraising schemes to keep the money flow constant. The Bible even says in Ecclesiastes 10:19 “…But money answers everything.” This Bible verse speaks volumes because pastors and church leaders who support tithing, view money as the ultimate answer to ministry rather than trusting God to move on the hearts of people. Weekly cheerleading sermons focus on how important it is for believers to open their wallets and pocketbooks and hand over 10 percent to God to receive manifold blessings. The argument that you owe God a tithe and you can’t beat God giving is powerful in collecting a tenth of income. However, no one ever discusses that theologians, Jewish sects, scribes, pastors, and Christians have argued over the validity of tithing money for centuries. Some who investigate biblical history on this phenomenon have concluded with certainty that biblical people tithed crops, cattle, sheep, goats and flocks but also gave money. Today, those who disagree with mandatory tithing doctrines have garnered the wrath of institutional church leaders; some feel marginalized and devalued because of their stand against tithing.
This chapter examines many Old Testament Bible verses with the word money. In fact, there are 140 verses in the Bible that use the word money. Believers should research every Scripture to discover how biblical people have historically handled money. Money was vital in the Bible; however, some argue that Israel and secular nations did not use money in a significant way. Some believers think Israel’s entire economy was agricultural. However, if money was not an important commodity of that time, why are there 140 money verses as opposed to only 38 references to tithe/tithes in the Scripture?
While I cannot cover all 140 biblical references in this chapter, I will highlight some of them to give you insight into Israel’s money practices. In this chapter, you will discover whether money was tithed in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. The proof that someone actually tithed money in the Scriptures must be clear. Somewhere on the pages of the sacred text, it must be evident that Yahweh converted the herd and crop tithe to money. We know the Old Testament mentions both money and tithes but they are not synonymous.
The power of money can change churches, governments, nations and people’s lives for good and for bad. So what does the word money mean in Hebrew? The Hebrew word for money in the Old Testament is “keceph/kecep” (Strong’s #3701). In the Theological Wordbook of the Testament (TWOT) the reference is 1015a. It is defined as a type of metal or silver that has a pale color. Every Scripture in this chapter dealing with money uses the same Hebrew word.
The first time money is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 17:12-13, 23:
…He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant.He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. …So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him (NKJV).
There is no need to discuss where Abraham’s money came from as this was discussed earlier. This first reference has to do with circumcision, which was the covenant in place at that time. Abraham is following God’s commands regarding the circumcision covenant for those born in his house and for people he purchased from foreigners to work in his house who were required to be circumcised also. There is no mention of tithing money in the text. The theological question that will stump dogmatic tithe proponents is why does the Bible mention money first yet does not mention Abraham tithing money? God gave a command to circumcise male foreskin rather than to circumcise people’s wallets and pocketbooks by 10 percent. If you read Genesis from beginning to end, you will not find money tithing either implied or directly commanded by God.
When people study tithing, they rarely look at the Scriptures dealing with money because they are convinced of their theology on the subject. The Bible contains multiple money transactions that took place regularly and not once does anyone pay a tithe out of money. There is one instance where the tithe was converted to money; however, the money was not used as a tithe but was used to repurchase tithe items at the temple. This will be discussed later. The second instance of a non-tithe money transaction deals with Abraham making a land purchase in Genesis 23:9,13, 16.
…that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he has, which is at the end of his field. Let him give it to me at the full price, as property for a burial place among you. …and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.” And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants (NJKV).
With “keceph” in mind, Abraham negotiates a purchase price for a burial plot for his family with silver shekels (money). The context is enlightening because Abraham had a promise from God to give him the land of Canaan but he still insists on settling on a fair price to gain the title to the land by accepting the terms set by the merchants. Abraham’s integrity would not allow him to accept land for free from the people of Heth and Ephron. Abraham paid 400 pieces of silver for the land in the company of witnesses just like most people do today when they purchase a home. If tithing was really important before the law, why does the Scripture not contain specific tithing details similar to how land purchases were done?
There are important words in the land purchase deal that gives insight into the economic practices of that time. The Hebrew word for merchant is “cachar”(Strong’s #5503). The TWOT is 1486, which means “sahar”. The merchant in the text speaks of someone who goes about to and fro in the land doing trades and making business deals. If you go back and read Genesis 23, which deals with Abraham’s land purchase, does it not look like an early ancient banking system where the merchant/banker set the terms of the contract? The land deal reveals that a system of ancient currency existed in Abraham’s time. In verse 16, the words “currency of the merchants” indicates that the value of money/silver varied in similar ways to modern day markets. Based on the Hebrew word, silver is minted in pieces such as shekels, which had a value according to their weight. Abraham needed to weigh out his money/silver to arrive at the value of 400 shekels. The Hebrew word for merchant in conjunction with the context offers a clear understanding that people traded in goods and used money as a means of exchange. God’s promise that Abraham would inherit the land of Canaan began with Abraham’s purchase of land in foreign territory. The people knew Abraham was a stranger in their land and understood it was not customary to sell land to a stranger; however, Abraham was deeded the land in Genesis 23:17. We don’t know how much money Abraham paid but based on my research, it was a large sum of money. The subject here has nothing to do with tithing and everything to do with land purchases. No one can advocate tithing using Genesis Chapter 23 because there is no tithe instruction in the text. To argue for tithing using Jacob’s example is empty scriptural rhetoric.
Does God Establish Money Tithing in Genesis?
In Genesis 31:14-15, the Bible deals with money but oddly enough, the text talks about dowries and land purchases associated with Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. In Chapter 4, I talked about Jacob promising to give a tenth of everything he received. In verses 14-15, Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah say, “…There’s nothing left for us to inherit from our father. He treats us like foreigners and has even cheated us out of the bride price that should have been ours” (CEV). The context here deals with silver that Rachael and Leah knew was due to them as a part of their inheritance from their father. Remember Jacob was on the run from his brother and heading to his uncle, Laban’s house. He arrived empty handed and made a deal with Laban by selling his labor. The tradition was that a man paid a bride price for the women he would marry. Jacob paid with his labor and worked seven years for Rachael; however, his uncle tricked him, and told Jacob that he had to take the oldest daughter first. Jacob then worked seven more years for Rachael to be his wife. Why does the Scripture not reference Jacob honoring a tithe system during those fourteen years? The wages Laban paid to Jacob was changed 10 times, so where did Jacob take his tithe to from those wages? Let me tell you what Jacob did with his wages: he bought sheep and goats. The CEV version makes this clear: “I had to work fourteen years of these twenty long years to earn your two daughters and another six years to buy your sheep and goats” (Genesis 31:42).
If you read the story about Jacob’s wealth in Genesis Chapters 29-31, especially Chapter 30, verse 43, it is clear that he become rich but it was not in money. Though Jacob had money, his wealth was increased through his cattle, flocks, camels, donkeys, and male and female servants. How do we know Jacob’s wealth is factual? Laban’s sons accused him of taking their father’s riches resulting in them having no inheritance in Genesis 31:1, “Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth” (NKJV). The story continues in Chapter 31 proving that Jacob never took anything from Laban. Despite Jacob’s issues with Laban during the twenty years he worked for him, the Bible does not mention that tithing was important during this pre-law period.
Another example of money not being tithed is in Genesis Chapter 33:18-19, when Jacob buys land much like his grandfather.
Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money (NKJV).
The context deals with Jacob buying a piece of property. The strange occurrence here is that if God promised the land of Canaan to his family, why is Jacob negotiating with the children of Hamor to purchase land? What we notice is that to have full ownership and deed to the land, a legal act to purchase the land was required. God promises are sovereign; however; His promises do not negate our responsibility to act in a legal way. In Jacob’s case, God promised the land, but Jacob still had to legally purchase the land to have full ownership.
The phrase in the text one hundred pieces of money is Strong’s #7192. It is the Hebrew word “quesiytah,” which is a unit of unknown valve and the TWOT #2081 suggests it means to weigh out. Apparently the value of the one-hundred and ten pieces of money weighted out are pieces of silver, but the Bible does not indicate how much the silver pieces cost in dollars during Jacob’s time.
The next instance of money handling in the Bible occurs in Egypt with Jacob’s son, Joseph. However, there is no mention of either of them tithing silver or gold throughout their life story. The story of Joseph’s brothers dropping him in a pit and eventually selling him into servitude in Egypt is a fascinating story. As the years passed, Jacob’s son’s deceived him into thinking that a wild animal killed Joseph. During this time, a famine broke out in the land and Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to purchase grain. I will not cover the entire story, but I will focus on the money aspect of the story. Genesis 42 begins the story and throughout the whole saga money is mentioned as part of the conversation but never as a tithing practice. The context is about hunger and famine. Genesis 42:25, 27 and 35 mention money in relation to food and nothing else.
Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them… But as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid (NKJV).
Reading the story about the money issue provides insight into what was really important during this time. You can also read Genesis 42:12, 15, 18 and 21-23, which show more information about money. As the Scriptures declare, Jacob sent his sons from Canaan to Egypt to buy grain with money. When the brothers arrived in Egypt, Joseph recognized them, but the brothers did not recognize him. Genesis 42 says Joseph sent them back home to bring back their youngest brother, Benjamin, to test their trust. Unaware that Joseph had put the money they brought to buy grain back into their sacks, they returned home. When the brothers got home, they found the money and were shocked and afraid that their father Jacob would accuse them of misdeeds that would bring the wrath of Pharaoh on them. This event is important because it shows that people were in dire straights and needed food, yet tithing was not even on the radar.
The famine drove the people of Canaan to Egypt where Joseph stored goods in preparation for hard times. The verse shows Jacob using money to pay for grain during a famine in which money becomes less important than food. Hungry people do not worry about tithing; they are concerned about where to get their next meal. If tithing were a robust practice during this time, the famine would have prevented people from engaging in the practice because there was no food or crops to tithe.
The text also uses the phrase “bundles of money” but to understand this term it should be studied in depth so that you don’t interpret the text as Joseph putting extreme sums of money in their sacks. The Hebrew word for bundles is Strong’s #6872. It’s means “tserowr” and in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), the reference is #1973e and #1975c. Bundles mean parcel, pouch, or bag. The context is bags of money or moneybags containing silver. How much money those bags contained is not described in the text but what the verse tells us is that money played a significant role in Egypt and Canaan.
In Genesis Chapters 42-47, the famine worsens and money starts running out. When money was no longer useful, some people sold themselves, their cattle or their land to Joseph to obtain grain from Pharaoh’s storehouse. In Genesis 47:14, 16, and 18 you can see that money was not tithed.
And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain, which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.” Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.” When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land…” (NKJV).
At some point, Jacob was broke and destitute and needed food for survival because his cattle and money were gone. At this point, it would be stretching the truth to argue tithing ever took place in the Jacob story. The only storehouses being filled with money was the house of Pharaoh under the auspices of Joseph. Even when the Egyptian people ran out of money and needed food, they had to sell themselves and their starving cattle to Pharaoh.
From the text, Joseph did not follow a tithing law when he set up the rules for the famine. Everything associated with the one-fifth and four-fifths Joseph required related to eatable items rather than money. If an eternal tithing principal existed before the law, the Israelites did not practice it during their 430 years in Egypt. In Genesis 47:23-25, you see something interesting concerning tithing before the law. After Joseph bought land and people for Pharaoh, he gave them seed to sow. Then he tells them to hand over one-fifth (twenty percent) of the crops at harvest time and the other four-fifths (eighty percent) they could keep as seeds for the field, food for themselves and their children. The text also says that they could plant four-fifths for food. Nowhere is it implied that tithing is important during the pre-law stage of Israel’s journey during a colossal famine throughout Egypt and the surrounding lands.
The astonishing fact about Genesis 47 is that if Joseph knew about a pre-law tithing principle, why was he collecting twenty percent of the harvest and giving it to Pharaoh? Doesn’t the tithe belong to God? Also, isn’t the tithe one-tenth of the crop and every tenth eatable animal? If Joseph knew of a pre-law tithing requirement, could he have really asked for a tithe from the Egyptians for the temples in Egypt? It does not seem probable because of the famine. On the flip side, could Joseph have asked for a tithe from any Israelite and put that tithe in the storehouses of the Egyptian Gods? Another question is, would Joseph’s family pay twenty percent to Pharaoh from the crop they planted? Wouldn’t it be a sin for Joseph to take a tithe from the Israelites in Israel and give it to Pharaoh’s priests in Egypt when the tithe belonged to God? At this point, you can see it is fruitless to argue that some pre-law tithe existed. The point remains that Jacob promised a tenth so why didn’t he tell his sons, including Joseph, about his promise?
This journey of discovering money in the Bible is not some cheap, parlor, translation trick. The Bible, when interpreted correctly, can lead to freedom from deception that can ruin your financial life. Throughout Genesis there are no examples of anyone tithing money. So let’s move to Exodus to unearth how Exodus deals with money in the wilderness.
Did God Establish Tithing In Exodus?
Money Scriptures in Exodus are plentiful. There is no way to cover every reference to money in Exodus; however, examining some of the verses is necessary to obtain context.
Exodus doesn’t open up with a focus on tithing but with instructions on how Israelites were to handle the Passover meal and who could partake in the covenant practice. Exodus should be a place where God stresses the important of the tithe as they prepared to leave Egypt. Instead, God focuses on what they should do with the slaves they bought with money and their participation in the Passover meal. Exodus 12:44 reads: “But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it” (NKJV). In verse 45, temporary workers among Israelites could not eat the Passover meal. It seems that a perceived tithe instruction was not that important to God but the Passover meal was as they left Egypt. A person who supports tithing before the law has to invent a preposterous position as to why the first mention of money in Exodus is about slaves and the Passover rather than tithing.
Exodus tells a story of Israel’s bondage in Egypt and their exit to freedom to a new land. An observant reader of the text must not overlook the small nuances in the Bible dealing with this time period. For example, Jeremiah 2:2 says:
…Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD:
I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal,
when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown… (NKJV).
This verse instructs the prophet to remind the Israelites about details of their wilderness years. When you examine the entire context of the wilderness journey, how can you prove tithing existed in Exodus? Jeremiah 2:2 is a fascinating smoking gun and reveals an interesting fact about sowing seed in the wilderness. If the Jews could not sow seed in the wilderness, they could not tithe. Based on God’s word, there was no tithing during Israel’s 40-year wilderness journey because Jeremiah 2:2 says the land was not sown. Instead, God feed them quail and manna from heaven.
In Exodus 21, God instructs Israel on how to handle male and female Hebrew slaves, and fathers who sold their daughters into marriage, and also gave specific rules for human interaction relating to accidents. Verse 30 is about animal laws and money and it says, “If there is imposed on him a sum of money, then he shall pay to redeem his life, whatever is imposed on him.” The context is about a person who failed to fence in his bull, which had a habit of goring and killing people. As a result, the owner’s bull was stoned to death. The family of the deceased could ask for the owner’s life as a penalty or they could require a specific amount of money from the owner to save his life to avoid the death penalty. The Bible calls this redeeming a life from death.
In the same chapter, God holds people accountable for payment of money if a person’s animal falls into a pit and dies or if the animal kills another animal. Exodus 21:33-35 say:
And if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it, the owner of the pit shall make it good; he shall give money to their owner, but the dead animal shall be his. If one man’s ox hurts another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the money from it; and the dead ox they shall also divide (NKJV).
In all the verses dealing with money, it is amazing that God never addresses tithing commands as Israel prepared to leave Egypt. When you read about the events of Israel in the Old Testament, money is well integrated into their culture and customs. So when people tell you that Israel only operated as an agricultural society, you should say there are 140 instances of money referenced throughout the Old Testament, and Yahweh never instructed anyone to tithe money.
Another example of money appears in Exodus 22:7. Did you know that God believes it is more important that a thief pays back what he steals than for someone to tithe money? Verse seven says, “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods” (NKJV). What we see in this verse is how the Most High views stolen property. The property rights of people were important and tithing is still not on the list. If an Israelite left property in the care of another and the person’s house is vandalized and the items left in his neighbor’s care falls into the hands of the robber, the thief had to pay double money for his actions. This brings up another question: if a thief today is held accountable to pay double for what he steals instead of going to jail, wouldn’t that serve as a deterrent to robbery? Being forced to pay twenty thousand dollars for stealing ten thousand dollars worth of goods is a steep price for stealing. In Exodus and before the law, others things were more important to Yahweh than tithing.
As the Hebrew people left Egypt for the Promised Land, God gave Moses instructions on everything a society would need to exist in harmony. The question is: if tithing was so important before the law, why did the Most High simply leave out instructions on tithing? Perhaps the answer is simply, God never required money as a tithe and that is why the Scriptures are silent.
Another instance of money handling is in Exodus 22:25. In the verse, Yahweh gives Moses guidelines on lending not tithing. The verse says, “if you lend money to any of my people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest” (NKJV). God’s instructions on how the Hebrew people ought to handle money were very specific. People outside of the farming and herding community in Israel never tithed money. The context of verse 25 has to do with God’s concern about generosity, not interest payments or taxing the poor. The law viewed charging interest on poor Hebrews as unwarranted profiteering from another brother’s misfortune. On the flip side, the law allowed the Hebrews to charge interest on loans made to foreigners in Deuteronomy 23:20.
Some Bibles use the word usury as in Exodus 22:25. This word is important because usury in Hebrew means “neshek,” (Strong’s #5392), which literally means a bite, like in how interest causes pain to the debtor. On the opposite side of the coin, in Leviticus 25:36-37, the word increase in Hebrew is “marbit” or “tarbit” which denotes the gain on the creditor’s side of the loan and later becomes the Hebrew word “ribbit.” Ezekiel 18:13 and 17 address lending on usury or interest and deems it a crime and the worst of all sins. Exacting interest is also addressed in Proverbs 28:8 and Psalms 15:5. The Bible clearly says that a man is righteous when he does not lend on usury.[i] Earlier I mentioned that charging interest was like a bite. Since usury denotes a bite, then a bite implies pain to the person who has to pay the interest. Doesn’t a poor person who tithes 10 percent of their income hurt like they were bitten? From a Hebrew perspective, the idiom implies that paying interest is like being bitten by a snake or a serpent. If after you give, you experience financial, emotional, or spiritual pain from neglecting unmet needs, your giving is likened to a snakebite. That is not true giving.
If you study money in Exodus, you’ll learn everything God wanted from his people. If money tithing was a practice, why did God not instruct the Hebrew people to tithe money? The Hebrew words “maaser kesafim” for tithe money is not found on the pages of the Bible.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary makes the point that Israelites were not a commercial people in the purest sense, so money was rarely loaned for business purposes but rather to aid the struggling poor.[ii] The E-BOOK version of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) makes a similar claim; it states, “In the Old Testament period loans were not of a commercial nature, i.e., they were not granted to enable a man to start or run a business. They were really a form of charity, and were made by the lender only to meet the pressure of poverty. To the borrower, they were esteemed a form of misfortunate (Deuteronomy 28:12) and to the lender a form of beneficence. Hence, the tone of the Mosaic legislation on the subject.” Based on these two definitions, we see God could never asked for money as a tithe to take care of the temple upkeep because it would violate His own law concerning the rules for money use. Churches today redefine the biblical tithe as money and then use the so-called tithe to pay mortgages, bills and salaries. If a pie chart of every church was published, I’m sure it would show most of the money going to business matters and not to the poor, the very opposite of Israel’s use of money. God’s idea about money is clear; He never gives any instruction or command to tithe money. God focused on how the poor were treated and how He would avenge them if they cried out to Him for help when society took advantage of their misfortunate.
I want to conclude by looking at one more money verse. Exodus 30:16, reveals how the temple received support. The temple did not receive money through tithing; rather it received atonement money. The verse says, “And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves” (NKJV). The context of the chapter is self-explanatory. Remember, when the census took place, the population would have included millions of Hebrew people and mixed multitudes of ethnicities that left Egypt. Later in the book, I will examine other instances of how the temple obtained financial support without the tithe. Exodus 30 mentions how Israel established the sanctuary/temple dues; however, this was not a tenth of income. Is this a smoking gun that dismantles tithe proponents arguments? Every Israelite male counted in the census twenty years old and above had to pay atonement money. Notice that the money was used for temple upkeep. The rich and poor paid the same amount. Some scholars and theologians propose the half-shekel they paid would be equivalent 5 to 8 dollars today. In Moses time, the amount could have been anywhere from 25 to 50 cents. When you count the number of Israelites who paid the half-shekel, it was a large sum of money to cover expenses related to temple upkeep. Exodus 30:11-16 was the primary fundraising method for the temple. The temple received money every year for upkeep and operations no matter where the Hebrew people lived until its destruction in AD 70. Temple upkeep is also addressed in Exodus 38:21-31.
Examples from Exodus do not give one principle of money tithing. The evidence in Genesis and Exodus should be enough to stop the tide of modern tithe arguments, but that won’t happen unless more Christian authors, writers, theologians and students proclaim the truth about tithing and giving. Now let’s look at the book of Leviticus to understand God’s perspective on money.”
[i] Dembitz, L., & Jacobs, J. (Eds.). (n.d.). Usury. Retrieved September 18, 2014,from http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14615-usury.
[ii] Unger, M. F. (1957, 1961, 1966). Unger’s Bible Dictionary (p.1128). Chicago: Moody Press.