4/14/2009 | Posted in

What is the origin of tithing and what types are there in the Old Testament? There were four types of valid tithing in the Old Testament.

Firstly, the tithe to the Levites
Num 18:20: And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them : I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

All the tribes of Israel who were the descendents of Abraham were allotted land. The descendants of Aaron, the tribe of Levi was not to receive land because they were to fulfill certain duties. This was a service unto God, which included a service to others. It was a type of governmental function. They were put in charge of health services (Lev. 13 + 14 & Mark 1:44). They were also in charge of applying the laws (policing & judicial) and to see to the education of the people. Every Jew had to be able to read, because they had to know the Torah by heart.
They were thus responsible for a combination of social and religious services to the community.

The tithe towards the Levites could be seen as a type of tax. The tithe the community gave to the Levites, were to be used for the upkeep of the social and religious structure of the community.

Deut 14:27: And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath neither part nor inheritance with thee. This is a reminder not to forget the first tithe to the Levites.
So the first type of tithing is the people tithing, to the Levites.

Secondly, the tithe to the Priests
Neh 10:38: And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.

This was a tithe paid by the Levites to the priests who were in charge of the temple duties. It was the Levites who brought the tithe of the tithe they received from the people, to the treasure house. Look carefully at this Scripture, it is A TITHE OF THE THITHES FROM the Levites.

All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. The Kohen (pronounced ko-hane) or priests were specific descendants of Aaron and were also known as Zadokites. They were specific to Temple duties.

So the people paid a tithe to the Levites and the Levites then, had to take from all the tithes, a tithe and pay the Zadokites or the Kohen who did temple service. This is the second type of tithing, in the Old Testament.

The Third type of tithing was towards the annual Holy Days.
Deut 14:22: Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed that the field bringeth forth year by year.

Deut 14:23: And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.

Deut 14:24: And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:

Deut 14:25: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:

Deut 14:26: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.

The people were required to gather 3 times a year for Holy Festival Days.
• Hag Pesach (Passover)
• Hag Shavuot (Pentecost)
• Hag Sukkoth (Tabernacle)

When God has become work and not rest, you should realize that you are involved in works and not the Sabbath rest.

The fourth tithe, is to the less fortunate.
Deut 14:28: At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
Deut 14:29: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

This tithe was for the elderly, the less fortunate and the orphans. A special saving had to be made for them.
To sum up the tithe

All three tithes added up to about 23.3 % of your blessing.
The people were responsible for tithing towards:

• The Levites
• The 3 annual Holy Days
• The less fortunate.

The Levites had to tithe towards:
• The Zadokites or Temple priests

Over all, the tithe was to be a tenth part of your harvest that was brought into the STORE house so there would be FOOD in the house of God for His people.
Mal 3:10
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house

In your times of abundance, it helped those that were in need. If you went through a time of lack, there was plenty for you at that time as well.

The church provided all the medical, judicial, and educational needs of the community!
No one had to pay for hospital visits, no one had to pay court costs, There was no department of education, or college tuition.

The tithe was so that whenever you needed ANYTHING, you could go to the church and it would be provided.

Notice in Deut. 14:

Deut 14:22-23
22 "You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. 23 Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence.

You were to bring your tithe – then YOU were to eat the tithe. You didn’t give it to someone else, it was YOUR tithe to use for yourself!
If all you did was raise chickens, you could take your tithe, and trade with someone who brought potatoes, or corn. It was yours to do with as you needed.
What was considered a tithe?

Deut 14:23
This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds.

It wasn’t money. However:
Deut 14:24-27
24 "Now when the LORD your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. 25 If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the LORD your God has chosen. 26 When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household.

Notice that if you couldn’t take food, you could take money as your tithe.
Then YOU use the money to BUY whatever you needed in the STOREhouse!
This was all under the LAW. Christ has redeemed us from the CURSE of the law.
We were never supposed to follow the law to begin with.
The law was given to Israel only, not the Gentiles.
You can find this in Exodus 19:3, Leviticus 26:46, Romans 3:19, Romans 9:4, Romans 6:14.

In Galatians 1:1-9, Paul tells them that he taught the gospel of GRACE, and when he left, the Jewish leaders taught them they had to follow the law.
He called it another gospel, and those that follow the law are cursed. The Gentiles never followed the law and never knew the law, but once salvation was offered, the religious leaders told them they had to follow the old law.

Some argue that Abraham instituted the tithe prior to the law and was blessed because he tithed. That is not what scripture teaches.
The law was instituted 430 years after Abraham died. He was blessed by faith in God – not by keeping the law. We receive the blessings of Abraham by faith through grace, not by keeping the law.

Gen 13:2
2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Gen 14:18-23
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

In Genesis 13, Abraham was already rich (in cattle, in silver, and in gold)

Then in chapter 14, Abraham gives a tenth of his spoils of war to Melchizedek.
Notice it wasn’t even a tithe from HIS income, it was a tithe of what he took away from other people as spoils of war.
He wants to make sure in verse 23 that it is understood that he was already rich.
It also never mentions that he gave a tenth part more than this single time.

Gen 28:20-22
20 Then Jacob made this vow: "If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, 21 and if I return safely to my father's home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. 22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me."

Jacob didn’t vow to pay tithes so the Lord would provide for him.
He said if God will protect him and provide all his needs, THEN he will present to God a tenth of what he has given him.

Now lets move out of the Old Testament into the New Covenant.

2 Cor 8:12-14
12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don't have. 13 Of course, I don't mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it.

It says we should give according to what we HAVE, not what we don’t have, and whatever it is that we give is acceptable. It also says that your giving shouldn’t make life hard on you.

2 Cor 9:7-9
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."* 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

We are not to give out of pressure from anyone or because of any law.
We are only to give out of LOVE, and because we WANT to give.

Gal 3:10
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse,
If we tithe because of the law, we are under a curse.
THAT is why so many in the church today are giving themselves broke.
They remove themselves from the grace that Christ provided, and place themselves back under the curse!

Giving out of compulsion and in hopes of improving your situation is a WORK.
We are not justified by works, but by FAITH. It is by FAITH that we receive the blessings of Abraham, not by works. When you are giving because of a law, you are bound to a system, and your focus is going to be on that system instead of God.

The tithe could only come from the land of Israel, and the tithe was never money.
Fishermen couldn’t tithe, because their harvest didn’t come from the land.
You can NOT give because of the law. That is sowing in the flesh. The flesh is made of the earth. Whatever is sown in the flesh will reap corruption.
If you give out of pressure, you will reap pressure. If you give out of lust or greed, you will reap lust and greed.

Although we are not under the Law, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could go back to the way society was set up at that time?
No government taxes. 23% of your income went to the church, and the church provided free education, free health care, free food, and for any area where you may have experienced lack.

Of course we should give. The bible does not teach giving because of God’s need, or because it’s a law that must be kept.
It teaches that we are to give out of love and God will meet our every need.
There are some ministries that have missed the mark and have gotten too centered on giving.
Although giving is necessary, it is not to be the primary focus. The same thing was going on over 2000 years ago:

Mic 3:11
11 You rulers make decisions based on bribes;
you priests teach God's laws only for a price;
you prophets won't prophesy unless you are paid.
Yet all of you claim to depend on the LORD.

Ezek 34:1-5
34 Then this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn't shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty.

Recommended Reading:
Should the Church Teach Tithing?
Tithing: Low-Realm, Obsolete, and Defunct
The Tithe That Binds


2 responses to "Tithing"

  1. Anonymous On June 20, 2009 at 4:03 AM

    You said it yourself:
    "The tithe was so that whenever you needed ANYTHING, you could go to the church and it would be provided."

    That is the reason why we have to tithe, so the church can do just that.

    So, do we have to tithe? The answer is a resounding YES.

    The real issue with tithing? There are churches that teaches against it when it is clearly written that we should, and again as you yourself said,

    "The tithe was so that whenever you needed ANYTHING, you could go to the church and it would be provided."

    The second issue, there are churches who are making it their own business. We should ask God for guidance in this situation.

    For our church, we tithe because:

    "The tithe was so that whenever you needed ANYTHING, you could go to the church and it would be provided."

    Now I wouldn't go deeper lest I make your blog my own. But you said a lot of statements that supported tithing today.

  2. Kingdom Studies On June 20, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    I could not disagree more.

    This is what was set up for a governmental style old testament system.

    We are no longer governed by that system.

    God is no longer in a building built with hands.

    You SAY your church tithes, but do you tithe according to what the old testament commanded? Do you really give 23% of your income every year?

    You also said your church does that so everything CAN be provided. If someone needed a new car, would the church provide that for them?

    What about the kid that just finished High School and decides he wants to be a doctor? Is the church willing to pay his tuition?

    That's the kind of system that was set up at that time. If your church is able to pay everyone's bills, that is awesome.

    But somehow, I doubt that's the case.

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