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In the face of overwhelming biblical truth that tithing is not money, why do people persist to think they are really tithing to God when they pay ten percent of their income to a church, which is later deposited into a secular bank? Not one penny they hand over ever reaches the hand of God. So what’s up with this picture. Believers blindly believe the monetary tithe doctrine because they are driven by the force of custom and habit. It really has nothing to do with the Bible, but more with trying to fit into a institutional system that tells you what to believe rather than you studying for yourself. Custom, habit and doctrine can be a powerful influence on people who depend on professional preachers to feed them the Word indstead of them feeding themselves. The desire to pay tithes of income is like an opioid addiction becuase there are many benefits promised to those who pay without question. There is also another addictive pattern that goes along with tithe blessings that is the fear of a curse. The prospect of a curse from God on those who don’t pay tithes reigns supreme in the minds of the fearful, so they pay up at all cost to avoid God’s wrath. This pattern of pay paying tithes strickly comes from the force of custom, habit and tradition established by men and not by God. Tithing money has become an established belief system by the theology man’s traditions, customs and habits rising above the sovereignty and authority of the scripture. Tithing money is an act of elevating man’s tradition over God’s law. So then the practice of paying a tenth of your income to the institutional church is a tradition based on the living faith of the dead (that is dead family members who paid tithes and taught you to do the same) and tithing is based on traditionalism, which is the dead faith of the living (everybody tithes becuase everybody does it). It’s a form of religious mob mentality. You can get signed paperbacks, just order Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? from Paypalme for $23.87
In this blog post, it will be evident that tithes are not money, but I wonder how many people will open their minds and hearts to consider the truth based on facts, hermeneutics and proper exegesis. If you look at Deuteronmy chapter 12 and 14 and Leviticus chapter 27, or any other of the tithe reference in scripture, it will be clear that God wanted grain, new wine, new oil, herds and focks as the authorized tithe from those who were given land in Israel. There can be no other interpretation of the biblical tithe and to try to convert the food tithe to money is nothing more than an attempt to high-jack scripture for financial gain. Do churches need money to sustain it itself with the secular banking system? The answer is yes. When churches operate in the 501c3 tax code system, they must abide by tax code rules and the contracts they signed with the back when they decided to become servants to the lender. Building a churh building takes a lot of money and many congregations or church orgainizations have to violate Proverbs 22:7, which say, “The rich ruler over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Signing a huge building loan from a bank, immediately thrusts pastors into a perpetual fundrasing mode for his entire life in the pulpit to pay lender back. The church, the board and all the membership become servants to the banker who controls them until the church loan is paid off. Many pastors have to resort to heavy handed tithe sermons with promises of blessings for those who pay and curses for those who don’t pay to keep from loosing the building in foreclosure. If you fear a curse from God, you’ll pay up and if you love receiving blessings, you’ll pay up. Not a bad deal on both ends as a form of fundraising. But the problems is, the Bible never endorses the financial methods emplimented in most fundraising efforts in today’s churches. The tithe was never God’s plan to fund churches or salaries for church workers. In fact, Paul endorsed the idea that all must work for a living to earn a salary, including pastors and church workers. I cover all of this in my book Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really robbing God Anyway?. The tithe was an inheretence that God said belonged to the Levites along with other benefits.
We often for get that Ancient hebrews who lived in Israel operated as a agricultural theolocracy that required a tithe from the harvest and the every tenth animal from the livestock. This system was set up by God to support the Levitical priesthood which operated under sacrifical laws and offerings. If you notice, today we do not live under a theocratic system but a democratic system, which cannot sustain a monetary tithing system. People love to claim that tithing is required in the New Testament but, you would have to find a verse or passage where the Messiah referred to tithing on Jewhish money such as Deanarius, Bekahs, Drachmas, Gerahs, Talents or Mites neither silver or gold of that time. There is not one single biblical reference where anyone paid a tithe on any of these coins. It should be known also that paper money was not invented yet.
Many claims are made about the tithe and many people believe them as if those claims come from the mouth of God or His word. What follows are claims that have no bearing in scripture and so you can just regard them as false claims driven by the force of custom and habit and not scripture.
- False claim 1. The tithe applies to everyone. This is not true becuase tithing only applied to those in Isreal who who were farmers and ranchers among the 11 tribes who paid the tithe to the levites. It should also be known that the tithe was commanded for the Levites and since Jesus was from the tribe of Benjamin, the Bible says nothing about the tribe of Benjamin receiving tithes. Therefore, the arguement that you pay tithes to Jesus is false becuse he was not from the tribe of Levi.
- False claim 2. God requires you to give 10% of your income to the church as a tithe. This is not true becuase there is not chapters and verse that covers monetary tithing. And becasue the tithe is empiracally defined as food, money was not the tithe of the Bible nor is money required as a tithe in church.
- False claim 3. God will curse you if you don’t tithe. This is true only if you did not tithe crops and livestock as God required in the law. There is not curse for not tithing money since the biblical tithe is all edible items.
- False Claim 4. God will make you rich by pouring out blessgings from the windows of heaven. This is false becasue the windows of heaven is not about money, it is about the expanse of the sky from which rain falls. If you tithe money when the Bibles does not endore this action, there is no benefit to you because the practice is based on custom, tradition and man’s Law not God’s law.
In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? cover many more false tithing claims coming from the pulpit that can be biblically refuted. The list I’m providing below tell you exactly what the law says about tithing, taxes and T’rumah and you will find that not one time did God command a tithe of money. So the question is if God’s law’s does not require money as a tithe, why does man’s law insist in violating the Law God by commuting the tithe to money in opposition to the scriputure. Here are the the tithe laws.
- That an uncircumcised person shall not eat of the t’rumah (heave offering), and the same applies to other holy things. This rule is inferred from the law of the Paschal offering, by similarity of phrase (Ex. 12:44-45 and Lev. 22:10) but it is not explicitly set forth in the Torah. Traditionally, it has been learnt that the rule that the uncircumcised must not eat holy things is an essential principle of the Torah and not an enactment of the Scribes (negative). See Brit Milah: Circumcision
- Not to alter the order of separating the t’rumah and the tithes; the separation be in the order first-fruits at the beginning, then the t’rumah, then the first tithe, and last the second tithe (Ex. 22:28) (negative) (CCI19).
- To give half a shekel every year (to the Sanctuary for provision of the public sacrifices) (Ex. 30:13) (affirmative).
- That a kohein who is unclean shall not eat of the t’rumah (Lev. 22:3-4) (negative). See Kohein.
- That a person who is not a kohein or the wife or unmarried daughter of a kohein shall not eat of the t’rumah (Lev. 22:10) (negative). See Kohein.
- That a sojourner with a kohein or his hired servant shall not eat of the t’rumah (Lev. 22:10) (negative). See Kohein.
- Not to eat tevel (something from which the t’rumah and tithe have not yet been separated) (Lev. 22:15) (negative) (CCI18).
- To set apart the tithe of the produce (one tenth of the produce after taking out t’rumah) for the Levites (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:24) (affirmative) (CCI12). See Levi.
- To tithe cattle (Lev. 27:32) (affirmative).
- Not to sell the tithe of the herd (Lev. 27:32-33) (negative).
- That the Levites shall set apart a tenth of the tithes, which they had received from the Israelites, and give it to the kohanim (called the t’rumah of the tithe) (Num. 18:26) (affirmative) (CCI13). See Kohein, Levi.
- Not to eat the second tithe of cereals outside Jerusalem (Deut. 12:17) (negative).
- Not to consume the second tithe of the vintage outside of Jerusalem (Deut. 12:17) (negative).
- Not to consume the second tithe of the oil outside of Jerusalem (Deut. 12:17) (negative).
- Not to forsake the Levites (Deut. 12:19); but their gifts (dues) should be given to them, so that they might rejoice therewith on each and every festival (negative). See Levi.
- To set apart the second tithe in the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the sabbatical cycle to be eaten by its owner in Jerusalem (Deut. 14:22) (affirmative) (CCI14) (today, it is set aside but not eaten in Jerusalem).
- To set apart the second tithe in the third and sixth year of the sabbatical cycle for the poor (Deut. 14:28-29) (affirmative) (CCI15) (today, it must be separated out but need not be given to the poor).
- To give the kohein the due portions of the carcass of cattle (Deut. 18:3) (according to the Talmud, this is not mandatory in the present outside of Israel, but it is permissible, and some observant people do so) (CCA51). See Kohein.
- To give the first of the fleece to the kohein (Deut. 18:4) (according to the Talmud, this is not mandatory in the present outside of Israel, but it is permissible, and some observant people do so) (CCA52). See Kohein.
- To set apart t’rumah g’dolah (the great heave-offering, that is, a small portion of the grain, wine and oil) for the kohein (Deut. 18:4) (affirmative) (CCI11). See Kohein.
- Not to expend the proceeds of the second tithe on anything but food and drink (Deut. 26:14). Anything outside of things necessary for sustenance comes within the class in the phrase “Given for the dead” (negative).
- Not to eat the Second Tithe, even in Jerusalem, in a state of uncleanness, until the tithe had been redeemed (Deut. 26:14) (negative).
- Not to eat the Second Tithe, when mourning (Deut. 26:14) (negative).
- To make the declaration, when bringing the second tithe to the Sanctuary (Deut. 26:13) (affirmative) (CCI17). A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments)
In this list of tithe commands, you will notice that there is more than one tithe in Israel. What you also see in this list is food and not money in reference to the tithe. Now that is interesting because no church is practicing the other required tithes like Israel. In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway, I cover a lot of information about the different kinds of tithes required in scriptures. For those who like to claim they follow the tithe laws in their churc, they must also consider the that the Bible requries forgiveness from debts. According to Deuteronomy 15:1-2, 1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. 2 And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release.” All debt is supposed to be forgiven and you start with a new clean slate for the next seven years. So according to the law, you can tell your banker that God said after seven years, you don’t have to pay your morgage. Since the tithe laws comes out of Deuteronomy, the Lord’s release from debt is no different. Let’s see how far that goes. Because a pastor is not from the tribe of Levi, he cannot collect tithes.
Now for those who like to argue the Abram, Melchizedek tithe principle, there there is not way one can justify a monetary tithe based on what Abram tithed to Melchizedek. The first question one must ask it what did Abram tithe from, his personal wealth or what he captured in a war. The book of Hebrews bears this out that Abram tithe came from spoils of war not income. Here a good write up about Melchizedek getting a tithe from Abram.
Gal 3:10 (NRS) All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
A point often made is that since Abram gave 10 percent of the war-spoils to Melchizedek, the tithe came before the law and is thus not a part of it.
In a word, nonsense. For example, God killed an animal to provide a “covering” for Adam and Eve, and Able got this right in his approach to God by way of sacrifice, long before the sacrificial “covenant” spelled out the details. So did Abraham, Jacob and many others predating “the Law”. Does this mean we should still kill animals in sacrifice, since Able and Abraham did so before the Law of Moses was formally established? No. This would be so flimsy an excuse logically that it could only be made by someone with a strong hankering for the old wine. (Luke 5:39) Good grief, how far away from Christ do we want to go, and with what faulty logic as an excuse? What next, we can’t eat “apples” from certain trees… should be carried into the “new covenant”? In Christ the religious law is dispatched with in totality, and to embrace any part of it is to tacitly reject the reality of the incarnation of Christ and the promises of the New Covenant.
Imagine that someone actually asserted that we should not eat from certain apple trees because “this command predates the law, and thus is not part of the old or new covenant”. Wouldn’t this be a clear symptom of liking the old wine better than the new? Wouldn’t it also hark of an ignorance of biblical history and a penchant for religious myth as well? Was it an “apple”, as per popular fable, or a fig? What the tithe actually is in scripture is dealt with elsewhere, but for the purpose here we need to look at what happened between Abram and Melchizedek in context.
Melchizedek did not receive a tithe in the Deuteronomy 14:22-29 sense, obviously, even though the same Hebrew word is used since it was a “tenth”. Yet the context was different in many aspects. In the case of Melchizedek it was a “spoils of war” issue; more like a tribute or tax than the tithe. Melchizedek was a king and priest and had a higher standing than Abraham who was at that time a wanderer without a home, and thus Abraham paid tribute to “the greater”. This is the point of the citation in the New Testament. For the purposes of the point of the writer of Hebrews, the amount (5/10/20/50%) is not the point–it is that Abraham paid homage as a lesser to a greater. “The Tithe” in the old covenant had little to do with homage, rather the opposite. The greater were to give to the lesser (alien, Levites, widows, etc.) as can be seen in the definition of the tithe in Dt 14:22-29
Heb 7:4 (NIV) Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
From this precedent, and since Melchizedek was a priest as well as a king, the Old Testament priests got a sort of “tax” of 10% payments that were also termed “tithes” as a means to fund the temple, as well as getting gifts from Kings (later), and being included in the OT “tithe party” (Dt 14 style), as well as getting to eat the meat offered in sacrifice, etc., etc. As you can see, the Levites had multiple sources of income and providence, but the rules were strict: they were not allowed to own anything, they had no inheritance in this life. Their focus had to be on God, since by definition they could not own anything.
The spiritual point of this is full of meaning for us. The “priests” are not the clergy, right? As Russell Hobbs likes to say: “You are a priest of the Most High God!” yet our minds easily snap back to false religious notions that the Old Covenant priests were replaced by Pastors or Popes or Clergy. It is not so. If there is an application here, it is to all believers, not just a few.
So what is God saying here? We (the Levites, the priests of God) are to have no inheritance? It think so. Consider the lilies. Consider the sparrows. Sound familiar?
It is a hard teaching for “the rich”, and not many will enter the kingdom. But with God, all things are possible.
Luke 14:33 (Phi) “Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple.”
In conclusion, remember that we are no longer under the shadow law in any sense, certainly not in a small detail of how the old-covenant priesthood was funded. Along these lines–if you have not read it already–I highly recommend the message entitled “The New Legalism“.
The new covenant makes most every aspect of the old covenant more severe and radical. All might be required, and presently. Jesus might look at us and say, “Sell all you have…” or just a field, or perhaps something else. There is no telling, and thus we must get rid of all sense of possessing. Jesus made the Old Covenant seem easy in many respects: “I tell you, if a man lusts in his heart…” and “He who hates has committed murder…” and so on. In like manner, Jesus takes giving/tithing/tribute to the radical and ultimate extreme. All is required, even if you get to keep some of it for a time. <smiles> Our treasure is elsewhere.
Mt 6:24-34 (NIV) “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Melchizedek Getting a tithe from Abram
For those of you who don’t know the law on tithing, the biblical tithing obligation applies only to agricultural produce in the land of Israel. That means no believer is obligated to tithe money because they live outside the land of Israel and are not from one of the 11 farming and herding tribes of Israel. If you study the tithing system closely as God set it up in the law to protect the less fortunate. Tithing was anti-aristocracy. In it’s purest form, it ensured no one would go hungry. The tithe system prevented an aristrocacy in Isreal. That is not the case today with mega churches. We have an aristocratic millionaraire class of clergy that has crated a system of haves and have not the body of Christ. Instead of an aristocracy among a dominant, landed class of tribes that collects taxes from subservient tenants or serfs based on their ownership of land, the Torah presents the tribe of Levi as a model anti-aristocracy, a class of itinerant Levite scholars who collected tithes from from 11 tribes based their own lack of ownership of land. God said to the landed class in Israel, “Don’t abandon the Levite in your gates, for he has no portion and inheritance among you” (Deuteronomy 14:27).
I need to address to this problem about a teaching that’s been going around for years that God will bless you 30, 60 and 100 fold if you pay your tithes. Mark 13-1-13 and Mark 4:14-20 is one the most grossly mis-interpreted text to try to collect baseline income from God’s people. If you have knack for biblical foolery on tithing, the slide below will give you insight into what the 30, 60 and 100 fold blesssing really address.
Get a signed paperback of Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? from the author at: FC Publishing, LLC http://www.fcpublishing.com/about_kleptomaniac.htm.
Author interviews with Dr. Frank Chase Jr:
When I wrote my book, I set out to explain some of the passages and the logic behind some of the text in book bubbles. Many of the book bubbles share book excerpts and my thoughts about why I wrote the text or how the research affected me. My first book bubble, The Fight Continues deals with the views that churches have about tithing. And even though I published a book, teaching and sharing the truth about tithing has been a centuries-old fight. What has been difficult about tithing is learning that everyone has their own personal meaning what the term mean, so in my second book bubbles, Understanding Tithing Starts With a Definition explains the meaning of the term tithing to set the foundation so people won’t go off the rails on unfounded definitions. You have to establish and empirical definition before you can start talking about a subject and what it means. For me reasearch is important in getting to the bottom line of a subject, so my third book bubble, Research Brings Truth explains how I went about peeling back the layers of existing tithe doctrines in Christian theological circles. For many in the church, the argument has been that tithing existed before the law and that somehow justifies commuting the biblical food tithe to monetary tithing so that got me thinking about my forth book bubble, The Law Does Not Teach Money Tithing, which explains what the law actually taught about tithing and frankly the law did not say a utter a word about tithing income from a paycheck. One of the argument you will likely hear from the pulpit is that that Bible requires a tithe on the increase. Now on face value that is true, but what is the increase and how does the Bible define increase? That lead to my fifth book bubble, Tithing on Increase, which explains what the word means in context of scripture and not financial considerations of our current economic system. In the Bible the word increase has a different meaning and is confined to the economic system of that time. Tithing and giving have been conflated, redefined, taken out of context so much so that true giving is lost becuase of the confusion. In my sixth, book bubble, What Does True Giving Look Like? I try to explain biblical practice of freewill giving over the erroneous practice of monetary tithing which is not on the pages of the Bible. Many assume monetary tithing has always been the case, but in my seventh book bubble, Arguments Against Tithing Has a Long History, I share historical examples of people speaking out against the unlawful tampering of scripture to justify collecting money as a tithe. Long before many of us were born, many before us stood against the monetary tithe and paid the price with their lives. The debate has been whether the tithe is money or food, so to address that issue, my eighth book bubble, Monetary Tithing or Edible Tithing, Which One? puts to rest what the tithe is by sharing insight from the Jewish historian Josephus. Often when a financial system is threatened by exposing it fautly underpinnings, in this case church titing, there are no lengths the church will not go to make sure the status remain in tack. This lead me to write my ninth book bubble, The Church and its Money Grab Tactics to expose the different methods churches employ to collect ten percent of peoples paychecks. You would think that in scripture, one would be able to find a definitive postion on monetary tithing, and though we give Apostle Paut credit for penning much of the New Testament, my tenth book bubble, Paul Never Taught Believer to Tithe Money examines what Pau’s giving position was and how he viewed support gospel preachers. And guess what ladies and gentlemen, it was not tithing. Any time you have a conversation with a person who believes in tithing is to ask them to show you where Jesus paid monetary tithes. The first thing that will hit the person is cognitive dissonance because they won’t be able to find on verse to support their position. That is why my eleventh book bubble, Jesus and His Ministry Never Received Tithes talks about how the Messiah and the deciples received support and why Jesus could not pay or receive tithes. At some point in digging up the truth about monetary tithing after years of research, you have to conclude that as I did that tithing is not required, and that’s what my tweleveth book bubble, Official Orthodox Biblical Tithing Has Passed Away closes the book on the differences between tithing and giving by allowing context to define the tithe centuris ago and now as edible items (crops, livestock, grain, and flocks). This term first fruits, which is often confused with tihing is my thirteenth book bubble titled, What are First Fruits in the Bible? In this bubble, it is clear the Bible never defined first fruits as money as some do today, but in my author insight about the book excerpt, I make it clear that tithing and first fruits have exclusive meanings and can never be interchanged. Eating tithes verses paying tithes has been the quintessential question of the ages and yet when the Bible is pretty explicit that tithes are eatible items, some still won’t accept the truth of the word so in my fourteenth book bubble, Eating Tithes vs Paying Tithes I explain my thoughts on why people choose falsehood over truth. The first question one must ask when talking bout tithes is Jesus did not pay a tithe or collect a tithe, why should I be paying money the Bible does not require. I try to answer those question in my latest book bubble titled, Did Jesus Collect Tithes? I hope these book bubble give you information that you would go to my website and purchase a signed copy my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? For those who are interested in giving in the New Testament, I completed a partial power point study titled, New Testament Giving. There you will find what I discovered about giving in the New Testament. The ebook is now available at Amazon. 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“Israel also practiced another tithe, which some experts call a third tithe, poor tithe, or the third year tithe. Before going any further, let me say that according to some biblical scholars, historical experts, and theologians, there was never a second or third tithe in Israel. It is believed that Israel had only one tithe that was used in different ways based on the sabbatical and agricultural cycles. Although, I use the terms first, second, or third tithe, it is for the purpose of separating the tithe in distinctive ways to help make sense of a complex tithing system. The historian, Josephus, mentions three tithes; however, biblical experts say his tithe writings stem from concepts devised later by rabbinical and oral decrees and not from the biblical instructions Moses received from Yahweh. Preachers today who teach the misapplication of tithing are not following the biblical commands God gave Moses about the food tithe; rather, they are following traditions and customs of men created in later times to establish regular financial support for churches. The important fact about the tithe is what God restates in the law in Deuteronomy. Tithing laws change from Leviticus to Numbers and the reason is that when they got to the land of Canaan, God says in Deuteronomy 12:8 that, “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today [the wilderness]—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—….”In the wilderness, they performed tithing and other sacrificial functions based on what was right in their own eyes. However, in Canaan, God instituted very strict tithing and sacrificial rules. One of them was that they could no longer offer sacrifices as they did in the wilderness or approach the temple in the same way. Under the law, the tithe is regulated in a more fair way. When you examine the Scripture, it is clear where the tithe went and who received it in Deuteronomy 14:28-29:
At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do (NKJV).
The third year tithe is also detailed in Deuteronomy 26:12-14. When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the LORD your God: I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. (NKJV).
Based on the sabbatical cycle and the Scriptures, the tithe did not go to the temple. Every third and sixth year of the sabbatical cycle, the tithe stayed in the towns for people to eat? Excerpt From: Frank Chase Jr. “Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway.” iBooks.
In closing, another author Michael Morrison, in Sabbath, Circumcision, and tithing wrote:
Tithing in ancient Israel
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 Chronicles 31:5-6), 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.
Two or three tithes?
In ancient Israel, a tithe of all agricultural produce belonged to the Lord; ten percent of the crop was “holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). Ten percent of the herds were also holy (verse 32). God then gave these tithes to the Levites: “ I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 18:21).
However, Deuteronomy 12:5-7 says that the people were supposed to take their tithes to the festival site, and eat them! “You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose” (verses 17-18). A different system of giving was required for some animals.The people were supposed to take their tithes to the festival site, and eat them. Deuteronomy 14:23 is similar.
Some people conclude that Deuteronomy is talking about a different tithe than Leviticus and Numbers are. They believe that Deuteronomy is talking about a second tithe, which was to be used only for festival expenses. This conclusion is based in large part on the logic that the same tithe could not be given to the Levites and eaten by the people at the festivals. However, this assumption may be wrong. For one thing, it would mean that Deuteronomy says nothing about first tithe, nothing about the financial support of the Levites, even though Deuteronomy was the “second law,” the re-stating of the basic laws of Israel. (page 160-161).
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