The real truth about whether God ever wanted a tithe in cash or crops is hidden in plain site of scholarship, theology and history. When one studies the land, language and literature of the Hebrew people of the Old Testament in context the truth of the tithe is glaringly evident. Many modern pastors and teachers like to dismiss the biblical facts and teach a corrupted form of tithing that was invented by the Holy Roman Catholic Church. In essence they have corrupted the covenant of Levi as stated in Mal 2:8 You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the LORD of hosts. The covenant Levi had with God was that they would inherit the tithe of the land and livestock in perpetuity as long as the temple stood. The church has corrupted the tithe law by commuting God’s commanded tithe to money.
In this post is is evident that many authors, theologians, scholars and scribes have authored works to set the record straight on how the church can correct their error of corrupting the covenant of Levi and return to teaching the truth of God’s edible tithe from livestock and crops as Leviticus 27:30-33 makes clear. God’s tithe cannot be changed simply because we no longer live in an agricultural society. To say that Israel crop and livestock was their form of money is biblical piracy. The tithe God required came from God’s labor not man’s labor from selling his talent to an employer for a paycheck. The tithe came from assets not a paycheck. So as you read this post, lets see what was written about the tithe.
In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? I set the record straight by writing about the phenomenon of full-time pastors who do not work and whether or not the Levites worked full-time. In Chapter 8 of my book, I wrote about the work schedule of the Levites:
“One of the most intriguing phenomenon of the church today is the pastors’ rhetoric regarding working full-time in ministry as if the duty to full-time pastoring is a call from God. Let’s dive into the muddy theology of whether there is scriptural support from the Levitical priesthood to back up claims that God calls people to full-time ministry. Is there a reason why so much attention is focused on becoming a full-time pastor? The answer may lie in the need for money to sustain a certain lifestyle apart from any Biblical evidence other than to keep up with the Joneses. Though the tribe of Levi in Israel received the tithe inheritance, forty-eight cities to live in and common land, do pastors deserve these same benefits? If claims that the Levites worked full-time are true, how could they take care of the land and cities they received from their Israelite brothers? The picture gets a little clearer as you study the context. The Levites could not have been full-time service to the temple because they used the land gift to take care of livestock and crops when not working in the temple. Numbers 35:1-3 has insight on this issue.
On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the LORD said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals…” (NKJV).
The rest of Numbers 35 details the Levite gifts. The Scripture text in no way teaches that all Levites worked full-time without a single Levite to take care of the land or do the work in the cities where they lived. Numbers 26:62 says, “All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000. They were not counted along with the other Israelites because they received no inheritance among them” (NKJV). Let’s take it one question at a time. Could 23,000 Levites work full-time all at once? What would that many people do? How many Levites does it take to set-up and breakdown the movable temple in the desert? How many Levites worked when a permanent temple was built? When you ask logical questions that don’t receive sound answers, you realize somebody is not teaching the Bible right, or is doing a very good snow job of purposely ignoring Scripture. After you put on your thinking caps, you’ll realize how impractical and foolish it looks to pack 23,000 Levites into the temple full-time because the temple was too small for that number of people. It is clear Levites never worked full-time in the temple; furthermore, there is no biblical command for them to operate that way. They actually worked part-time and the Scriptures bear this out. The Bible doesn’t teach full-time ministry as a command nor does it instruct full-time ministry workers to ask or receive support through tithes. That being said, congregations who want to financially support preachers and gospel workers in full-time ministry can do so as a personal financial decision under charitable giving rules. Financial support for full-time ministry must never be justified by twisting tithe Scriptures out of context to get money. Numbers 35 shows that Levites lived all over the land of Israel.” Excerpt From: Dr. Frank Chase, Jr., Th.D. iBooks “Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway?”
Not only does my book dispel the monetary tithe myths it also puts the full-time pastor concept under scrutiny of the New Testament church structure. So if money tithing is important to the church to sustain a consistent cash flow system, it is important to make sure you know what has been written about tithing and what the record says. Author Leonard Bupanda writes this:
“Now, it is important that you pay attention to what the Spirit, through the scriptures, has to say. I do not seek to feed you with my own thoughts and understanding, but with the word of God, for I shall let the scriptures speak. Starting with the way I am addressing Abraham, you will notice that I have used the name Abram as it relates to events that took place before his name was changed. Similarly, the name Abraham relates to God’s dealings with him after his name was changed. Therefore, I have drawn the distinction between the two names to ensure that we do not mix up the facts.
Now, one of my observations is that by being the first to give a tithe, Abram showed a remarkable insight and judgment to determine who deserved to receive the tithe. The spirit within him signified that Melchizedek was worth the tithes. I do not think that is the case today in which anybody can call for the tithe or receive it. Another observation is that Abram gave tithes of all only once (Gen. 14:17-20), as already mentioned somewhere in this book, because Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek took place only once. My curious observation is that Melchizedek did not ask for the tithe either. If this proves difficult to take in, I will advise that you go to the scriptures again. Therefore, it is conclusively clear that no recipient of the Old Testament tithe ever demanded or commanded it as today’s preachers and beneficiaries do. Abram’s tithe was voluntary, while that of the children of Israel was commanded by God on behalf of the Levitical tribe. Not even the priests asked for it. But the cardinal point here is that Abram’s tithe, when put under serious scrutiny, has a lot of flaws as it was given in the flesh as you will discover later. The proof is that the proof is that it did not continue after the tithers’ names were changed.Therefore, in view of the above observations, I do vehemently believe it is erroneous to attribute the tithe to Abraham. This is a misrepresentation of facts that has lead many of us to believe that Abraham was the first to give the tithe. No, Abraham never gave a tithe, but Abram did as a pagan practice of that time. So, if you cannot see the difference between these two names, then you cannot grasp what I am talking about either.”Excerpt From: Leonard Bupanda. “The Tithing Dilemma And The Triumphs Of Love.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-tithing-dilemma-and-the-triumphs-of-love/id481637695?mt=11
Not very many people pay attention to the difference between Abram and Abraham in the scriptures and Mr. Bupanda makes a sound argument and if you read the scripture, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Abraham did not tithe but Abram did. When I studied tithing, one of the first things I noticed was that none of Abram’s sons tithed. So is became clear to me that something was not right with the tithe teaching. And the more you read excerpts from authors, you start asking questions yourself about tithing. What is clear about tithe teaching today is that pastor go directly to Malachi to establish their so-called binding tithe positions the congregation must comply with. Have you ever had a pastor explain in detail how the livestock and crop tithe worked in Israel? I bet you can’t find one pastor who does. But that is the first place a believer should seek in trying to find the truth about tithing. Many authors painstakingly explain the tithe in context without subterfuge. Here is what Michael Morrison says in his book, Sabbath, Circumcision, and Tithing Which Old Testament Laws Apply to Christians. © 2002, 2003, page 160.
“In the Law of Moses, biblical commands about tithing generally concern grain, wine and oil. A different system of giving was required for some animals. In the last plague on Egypt, God killed the firstborn male of every animal and human, but he spared the Israelites and their animals. Therefore, God claimed ownership of every Israelite firstborn and firstling male animal (Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:13).
This applied not only to the generation that left Egypt, but every future generation as well. “Clean” firstlings were to be given to the priests and sacrificed (Numbers 18:15-17); priests and people ate them during the festivals (Deuteronomy 15:19-20; 12:6, 17; 14:23). Firstlings of unclean animals and humans were to be redeemed (Exodus 13:12-15; 34:19-20). This continued to be the law in Nehemiah’s day (Nehemiah 10:36) and in Jesus’ day (Luke 2:23). The people also gave firstfruits of their harvest (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Leviticus 2:14), but these firstfruits do not seem to be a fixed percentage. Tithing was required on flocks: “every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod” (Leviticus 27:32). Was this in addition to the firstlings, or was it instead of firstlings? We do not know exactly how these laws would be administered.
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). The tithes and firstfruits belonged to God, and he gave them to the Levites (Numbers 18:12- 13, 21, 24). They could keep 90 percent of what they were given, but had to give 10 percent as an offering (verses 26-32). Tithing was done in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles31:5-6), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:35-39; 12:44) and Jesus (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). In Malachi’s day, tithing was required (Malachi 3:8-10), and physical blessings were promised for obedience, just as physical blessings were promised for obedience to the old covenant.”
Tithing is clearly edible items but why is there so much consternation about hiding this truth from believers around the world? I suspect that when churches are wholly financial dependent on steady income for the banker to pay off huge mortgages, pastors will resort to any out-of-context teaching to sustain this income because they have long since abandoned New Testament giving methods. Even believers with no biblical training can figure out the false monetary tithing teaching. Brother Amartey wrote in his book, Tithing Robbing God and Stealing From God’s People, that:
Other false teachers say that by nurturing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil without eating of its fruit, Adam and Eve demonstrated the principle of tithing, and that tithing is an eternal principle. Beloved, this is sacrilegious! These deceitful preachers who want to rob and steal your money would use every lie and deception to get your money, just like scammers do. The truth is that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a test of obedience and love and had nothing to do with tithing whatsoever. God said that the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit was death (Genesis 2:15-17). He did not say if Adam and Eve did not give tithes they would die. He did not say they had to pay tithes in order to stay in the Garden. Rather, God provided them everything and told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). God did not require anything from Adam and Eve except obedience and faith, and not tithes! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/359816.
There is a lot of talk and teaching about Abram and Abraham on tithing. Of all the books I read on tithing as it relates to the father of our faith, one thing is certain, many authors are very clear about their understanding of the tithe. Daniel Mynk author of Freedom to Give The Biblical Truth About Tithing is no different in explaining the tithe in his excerpt. Crosslink publishing ©2011 iPad excerpt.
There are many other instances of money references in the Bible, but none of them say money is required as a tithe.
The nature of Abram’s tithe Several questions and issues can arise for one who examines the account of Abram’s tithe in detail without merely viewing the presence of the word tithe through the lens of modern tradition. Reading the details of this account, one can notice several problems with an attempt to extrapolate Abram’s tithe to one’s current understanding of the alleged tithing doctrine. These problems shall be analyzed using Abram’s tithe as the “tithe that binds.” First, how many times do the Scriptures record Abram giving something in the form of a “tithe”? Genesis chapter 14 and Hebrews chapter 7 are the only accounts of Abram’s tithe, and they are both of the same event. As far as we know Abram only tithed to Melchizedek once. Accordingly, we can then notice that Abram only tithed to anyone once. A legitimate question protrudes from examining this problem: How does Abram’s one-time tithe to Melchizedek argue a case whereby those who claim him as a “father” must tithe not only once but continually? Read chapter 15 of this book to analyze a possible significance between the priesthood of Melchizedek and the fact that Abram tithed only once. Second, of what source did Abram tithe? Did Abram tithe of his own “income”? One author claimed: “It is a disputed point whether Abraham meant a tithe of all his property, or of all the spoils of war which he had with him.” Although Genesis 14:20 says that Abram gave Melchizedek “tithes of all” and Hebrews 7:2 says that Abram gave “a tenth part of all,” Hebrews 7:4 clarifies that he gave “the tenth of the spoils.” One could argue that the “tithe of spoils” was only part of what Abram gave Melchizedek in the “tithes of all.” However, this reasoning fails both logic and Scriptural analysis. Obviously the “all” can mean “all the spoils of the battle.” The context of Abram’s tithe is directly within the context of winning the battle, returning the spoils, and the king of Sodom requesting a return of his people. Abram gave Melchizedek the tithe after returning from chasing the alliance of Chedorlaomer to Hobah. Abram met both Melchizedek and the king of Sodom in a place called “the valley of Shaveh,” which likely belonged to the king of Sodom. Abram was not in his own home when he gave Melchizedek the tithe. It would defy logic and be to argue from silence to believe that Abram brought all his many possessions with him to battle. Abram did not have all his possessions with him. He tithed to Melchizedek of the spoils of the battle as Hebrews 7:4 makes clear. If, indeed, Abram tithed only of the spoils of war to Melchizedek—things that were stolen from the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah—and not from his own possessions, how does Abram’s tithe in this regard present an obligation to those who claim him as “father” to tithe of their own “income”?
Not only is Abram’s tithe interpreted out of context in the church, the flagrant misinterpretation of first fruits is rampant in the church. The audacity of some pastors to ask member to donate first fruits of the first weeks’s or first day’s or the entire first year’s paycheck is robbing God’s people using scripture out of context. I remember days when the pastor asked the congregation to cough up our first weeks pay and that God would reward us for our sacrifice. Some people actually do pay the week’s, day, or first pay check at the beginning of the year to receive God blessing for the rest of the years. This is utter madness and financial manipulation that can reek havoc on families especially if they are not financially well off. But in the book excerpt, Debunking The Tithe In Israel ©2011, Xlibris Corporation, iPad version), Alvin J. Bates shares some insight on first fruits that is sure to make you put that first paycheck of the year back in the bank and not in the church offering plate, He writes:
The modern teaching that our “firstfruits” is really our first 10 percent of every dollar we make is really, wrong. The firstfruits when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land was the first of all the produce that grew out of the ground and not “money made.” Why is it that today and for hundreds of years churches have claimed firstfruits as “money made,” even when 90 percent of all Christians were farmers all around the world just a few years ago, and farmers could give food! In old England, some churches used to build “tithe barns” on church property to hold their tithes. Whew! I guess they knew that the tithe was really food. Calling “the tithe” money is a total perversion of scripture, and to call money “a shadow” as to what God was saying to the children of Israel is “heresy.” For God to say one thing and for us to do another is a total and complete perversion of scripture. This is hypocrisy, pure and simple!
In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway, I wrote extensively on the first fruits doctrine and I recorded a few YouTube videos to make sure people were well informed about the false monetary first fruits teachings that is sweeping through churches around the country. How does a basket full of fruit get turned into a pocket full of money for the church coffers. I call it slick hermeneutics and isegesis that imposes private interpretation into the scripture without context. When God wants first-fruits in a basket, who has a right the change the scripture to collect money as a substitute and violate the first fruits laws of the Old Testament to justify church financial support using scripture out of context. The only way to combat this phenomenon is to spread the truth about tithes and first fruits. In my book excerpt on first fruits, it is clear that paying money as first fruits is a colossal financial scam of epic proportions. Once you read this excerpt from Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway you will know how to respond when a pastor or church requests first fruits from you at the beginning of the years. Read this excerpt and be forewarned and forearmed with the Word:
“This is how the Hebrew people handled firstfruits in an article titled, How were the Firstfruits Handled by the Israelites? The pilgrims that brought up the Bikkurim to the Temple were obligated to recite a declaration set forth in Deuteronomy 26:3-10. (Bikkurim 3:6). This declaration was incorporated into a beautiful and grand festive celebration with a procession of pilgrims marching up to Jerusalem and then the temple with gold, silver or willow baskets to which live birds were tied. (Bikkurim 3:3,5 and 8). The pilgrims were lead by flutists to the city of Jerusalem where dignitaries greeted them (Bikkurim 3:3). The procession would then resume with the flutist in the lead until the Temple Mount where the Leviim [Levites] would break out in song. (Bikkurim 3:4). The birds were given as sacrificial offerings and the declaration would be made before a priest while the basket was still on the pilgrim’s shoulder (Bikkurim 3:5-6). After the basket was presented to the priest, it was placed on the Altar and the pilgrim would bow and leave. (Bikkurim 3:6).55
If you read carefully, notice that firstfruits were brought in a basket “in a festive celebration to the temple and given to the priests. The firstfruits were subject to strict Torah and later rabbinical regulation. The regulation was that God wanted seven specific items as firstfruits and they could only be presented in a basket. The Scriptures are clear on this requirement in Deuteronomy 26:2.” “Take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name (NIV).
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 pinpoints what happened with the Israelites and the firstfruits. God tells them that he wants the firstfruits (produce) from the land. Yahweh identifies different types of firstfruits from the land that were brought to the temple in the basket in Deuteronomy 8:7-8 and 18:4.” Excerpt From: Dr. Frank Chase, Jr., Th.D. Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? iBooks.
“One of the most perplexing arguments among Bible scholars and theologians is how many tithes did Israel pay? Though I addressed the issue in my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? I did not argue the point. However, I pointed out the positions that some take only to make a point that if there was more than one tithe, then why are churches collecting one tithe when the Bible teaches more than one tithe. This is why it is important to not accept anything as fact until you research for yourself. One Theologian Russell Kelly, PH.D writes about how many tithes in chapter 7 of his book, Should the Church Teach Tithing? I would like to say that some Jewish scholars and those who just studied Israel’s tithing practices believe there was one tithe based on Jewish Terumah laws and others think there were more than one tithe. My point here is that whether there were more than one tithe or not, tithes were still edible item anyway? So getting down into the minutia of one, two, or three tithe is not that important if we are trying to establish whether the tithe is money or crops and cattle. Russell writes:
Was the biblical tithe only 10%, or could it have been as much as 23 1/3%? Was there one tithe, two tithes, or three? A discussion of these questions was not originally part of this book until it became evident why only one answer is acceptable to most who teach New Covenant tithing.
Most casual readers of the Old Testament will conclude that there were at least two, and perhaps three, separate tithes, averaging either twenty or twenty three and one third percent (23 1/3%) per year, instead of only one ten percent (10%) tithe. For two thousand years theologians have been split over whether these were all separate tithes or somehow merged into either one or two tithes. The “multiple tithe” position is held by Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Bruce Metzger, Charles Ryrie, the Jewish Talmud and most Jewish writers, like Josephus.
Charles Ryrie combines the second and third tithe into one. “Two tithes were required: an annual tithe for the maintenance of the Levites (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:21) and a second tithe brought to Jerusalem for the Lord’s feasts (Deut. 14:22). Every third year, however, the second tithe was kept at home for the poor (Deut. 14:28).”40 The McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, tithe, Section I, last paragraph, also concludes that only two tithes existed. My only objection is that,if this were true, then we would have to conclude that there were no feasts every third year if there were no food brought.
For those, like the author, who believe that New Covenant giving under principles of grace replaces the entire tithing system, there is no reason to be dogmatic about which position is correct. However, for those who believe that tithing is also expected from the New Covenant Christian, the ONE tithe of ten percent can be the ONLY true and acceptable explanation. This position is for very obvious reasons! While it is difficult enough to ask average church members for ten percent, it would be much more difficult to ask them for twenty or even twenty three and one third percent!
Therefore, those who defend exact tithing have often placed themselves into a no-compromise position which concludes that the Old Covenant only taught one tithe of ten percent. Notice the tone of Eklund’s remarks, “The notion of three separate tithes has been circulated among commentators for a long time. Nevertheless, we must remain true to Scripture and not the traditions of biblical interpreters. Some have used the idea of three distinct tithes as a means of rendering tithing an obsolete doctrine, not valid for the New Covenant believers. This is done by rendering the Levite tithe as government taxation, the festival tithe as antiquated ritual, and the welfare tithe as giving to the poor. Since taxes and welfare funding are levied by the government, it is assumed that the tithe is no longer necessary.”41
In reply to Eklund, first, it is unprofessional to attack those who disagree by accusing them of following the “traditions of biblical interpreters” and accusing them of not remaining “true to Scripture.” Such superior attitude simply will not convince scholars to concede their own researched positions. Second, many of Eklund’s own denomination’s seminary scholars and textbooks hold the opposite position which he criticizes. When he says “we,” he errs in thinking that his own denomination totally agrees with him. Third, his discussion hints at an ulterior motive for insisting on only one tithe.” ©Copyright ©2000, 2007, pages 49-50.
One argument that tithe teachers love to expound on is that Israel did have money and that’s why they did not tithe money. It is a false argument that all Israel was an agricultural economy and that prevented them from tithing money. All Israelites were not farmers and ranchers as some would have you to believe. Pastors push this argument to justify collecting of ten percent of your income. This fact is easily and simply disproven by just reading the scriptures in the Bible on money. Author Thabani Maphosa, who wrote, Defusing the Malachi Bomb: The Old Covenant Tithe Versus New Covenant Giving. ©2015 iPad version. He asks in Chapter 1, Was There Money in the Israelite Economy?
“Some have claimed that money was not in use at the time that the laws of tithing were enacted. This is not true. Some bible translations use the word ‘silver’ and others ‘money’ to denote currency as a medium of exchange. Here are a just a few texts that show that money was in use at this time: “ Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” Gen 13:2 “but every man’s servant who is bought for money , when you have circumcised him, then shall he eat of it.” Exo 12:44 “If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money .” Exo 21:11 “The owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his.” Exo 21:34 “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief is found, he shall pay double.” Exo 22:7 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor. You shall not charge him interest.” Exo 22:25 “You shall purchase food from them for money that you may eat. You shall also buy water from them for money that you may drink.” Deu 2:6 Money continued to be in use throughout Israel’s history as shown below:“When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hand.” Jdg 16:18 “Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near my house; and I will give you for it a better vineyard than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money .” 1Ki 21:2 “I bought the field that was in Anathoth of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and weighed him the money , even seventeen shekels of silver.” Jer 32:9 “Her leaders judge for bribes, and her priests teach for a price, and her prophets of it tell fortunes for money : yet they lean on Yahweh, and say, “Isn’t Yahweh among us? No disaster will come on us.” Mic 3:11″
“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).” Excerpt From: Dr. Frank Chase, Jr., Th.D. Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? iBooks.
“In Chapter #4 we explore how support for the poor is integrated with the agricultural system in Biblical Israel and how the rationale and forms of this generosity are informed by a third metaphor, God as a landlord . The Torah’s laws of the land warn its inhabitants to refrain from taking complete credit for and possession over their accumulated wealth or land. In contrast to the previous chapters on Biblical giving the motivations behind agricultural allotments to the poor are neither empathy with those who suffer nor indignation at abuse of the rights of the poor. In contrast to a later chapter on the Jubilee tithes and peah are geared to maintenance , not rehabilitation, of the economically stressed. These entitlements are land-based, and so they designated marginal portions of the produce of otherwise privately-owned land. The Biblical delivery of aid was seasonal in the land of Israel, and it occur s chiefly at harvest time through the institutions of peah, leket, and shikhikha , whereas the modern approach has acquired a broader application to include individuals outside of Israel and monetary relevance . In the Middle Ages a monetary tithe is added to these in-kind agricultural contributions and it constitutes a new understanding of the “ poor tithe.”’This mechanism and its rationale is of particular interest because of its widely varying interpretations having run the gamut from a voluntary pious act to an institutional obligation, and from personal, communal or ritual use to the benefit of the less fortunate. The idea of tithing within the Jewish tradition will also be compared with a variety of Christian interpretations, which are based on the idea of grace and tend to value greater generosity with one’s possessions.
The great American oil baron and Baptist philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, explained his legendary generosity simply by acknowledging: “The good Lord gave me the money.”  [cdxiv] The story one tells oneself about the origins of one’s wealth is essential to the narrative of why one gives it away and to whom. In the next two chapters we will explore the rationale behind four modes of agricultural giving to the needy that are all commanded in the Torah by God. Those gifts are land-based and apply only to Jews living as farmers on their own land in Eretz Yisrael because their narrative of wealth teaches them that God gave them this promised land and allotted them their particular ancestral property, so they can say almost like the Baptist, Rockefeller: “The good Lord gave me the land.”
What are these agricultural gifts to the needy from God’s gift to the farmer and how does each add a twist to its rationale for being generous? In chronological order of their distribution, the farmer first designates , during his harvest, the “ corners of his field ” –peah –still filled with produce and still attached to the ground and to the vine. At that point “No Trespass” signs can be removed, so-to-speak, and the peah is now accessible to the poor and that only the poor may harvest themselves. In the meantime the farmer harvests t he rest of the field a first time , but all that was left behind –still on the plants –now belongs to the impoverished gleaners who collect what is called leket . After the harvest the farmer has his produce bundled in the field and then removed for storage. Whatever bundles forgotten –shikhikha –are reserved for the poor and prohibited to the farmer who accidentally forgot them. In the meantime the bundled produce is counted, and a tenth is set aside –the tithe, ma’aser –which is designated for the Levi or the poor depending on the year of the seven year cycle. The tithe is presented to any chosen poor person at the farmer’s discretion, while a ll the other gifts –peah, leket and shikhikha –are collected at the initiative of any indigent and by the ir labor . When the farmer finally gathers his family for a feast after the harvest on his agricultural holidays –Sukkot ( Hag HaAsif ) and Shavuot ( Hag Hakatzir ) –then too the farmer shares his ready-made food with the needy at his table. Every seventh year, the Sabbatical, the farmer is commanded to abandon his own field leaving it fallow, and thus returning it to a state of ownerless nature. All the produce that grows naturally on what was once a cultivated field is accessible at any time to the limited subsistence foraging of the farmer and the poor equally. Finally on the Jubilee, once every 50 years, the land itself –not its produce –is given away by whoever owns it to the original owner in the same ancestral plots once distributed by God in the days of Joshua when the land was first conquered and given out by a divinely regulated lottery. Thus the poor male citizens regain their agricultural capital. Sabbatical and Jubilee will be discussed in future chapters.
The rationale for these gifts is, first and foremost, that: YHWH our God brought us to this good land of river beds, springs and deeps in the valleys and mountains. A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, a land of olives, oil and [date] honey. A land in which one may eat bread without scarcity, and nothing is lacking in it. …You shall eat, be satisfied and bless YHWH your God for the good land God gave you . ( Dt. 8: 7-10).
Hence one is commanded to share one’s gift from God both with God directly through sacrifices and offerings, and first fruits and halla h for bread with the priesthood and tribe of Levi who serve God with these gift-offerings in the cult’s gift-giving. The tie between God’s “ giving ” and the Jewish landowner’s “ giving back ” is gratitude for that gift . That reasoning is made most explicit regarding the first fruits ( bikurim ). As Martin Buber notes, the sacred recitation upon presenting the first fruits to the priest in the Temple compares by its word choice God’s “bringing” the people to the land of Israel and the farmer “bringing” a gift to the Temple (Deut. 26: 9-10). [cdxv] For that reason the Rabbis stipulated that first fruits are to be brought only from produce of the seven species associated with Eretz Yisrael’s best fruits (Deut. 8:8; Mishna Bikurim 1:3), only by farmers in the land of Israel who own their land, and only when the Temple is still functioning (Maimonides, Laws of First Fruits 2:1).
Tithes are brought form any produce of grain, grapes and olives but again only from the land of Israel. In the poor tithe one shares one’s agricultural gift from God with God-designated needy from the land of Israel. Note that the verse describes this land as one without “lack” ( lo-tekhsar ), so logically when there are indigent in this land that God gave you, one is obligated to “open one’s hand” and provide from God’s bounty “enough for their lack which they lack ” dei mahsoro asher yekhsar lo –Dt. 15:8).”
Read Book excerpts from Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway and learn some of my personal thoughts about what went into writing the book excerpts.
- Is the Church the Storehouse for Tithing?
- Did Jesus Collect Tithes?
- Will a Man Rob God?
- Eating Tithes vs. Paying Tithes
- What are First Fruits in the Bible?
- Official Orthodox Biblical Tithing Has Passed Away
- Jesus and his Ministry Never Received Tithes
- Paul Never Taught Believers to Tithe Money
- The Church and Its Money Grab Tactics
- Monetary Tithing is not a Foregone Conclusion
- Money Tithing or Eatible tithing, Which One?
- Arguments Against Tithing Has a Long History
- What Does True Giving Look Like?
- Tithing on Increase
- The Law Does Not Teach Monetary Tithing
- Research Brings Truth
- Understanding Tithing Starts With a Definition
- The Fight Continues
- Did Paul Convert the Tithe to Money?
- How Did God’s Tithe Become Money?