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Tithe in Israel – a Summary — 14 Comments

  1. Thanks Maurice for a thought-provoking summary of (as you acknowledge) the complex topic of tithing within the Old Testament. I will keep reading and reflecting more on this topic ...

  2. I like the simplistic approach you have taken in this post. Very concise and straight to the point but the confusing part of this theology is usually in the details; mostly, the link between the tithing system during the ancient Physical Israel and the modern Spiritual Israel.Whether we have real replicas of the Levites, Priests and Israelites in the modern Christian church and whether it is appropriate to import the whole ancient Israeli stewardship model and apply its specifics to today's church. Howbeit, i concur with you that general principle is the same in the two models, i.e the same God who is the owner of everything and deserves our loyalty ; members of the church need to care for the full time church workers without forgetting the underprivileged of our societies and so on and so forth...

    • Pascal I love your argument! If you will permit me to just add one thing. We are all redeem through the blood of Christ right? Something we can never repay! So what if we in some way help to advance the work Christ by helping someone else comes to knowledge of His saving grace and this system (tithing) is one effective tool wouldn't be a welcoming idea?

      • Hi Ronald, I really have no problem with that, not at all! Any way that helps advance the great commission is welcome. If you read the last part of my comment, it says it all. My main concern has been when the system becomes partially applicable, where you have 2 workers advancing the great commission, one is paid because he is a 'levitical priest' with exclusive access to tithes reminiscent of the Israeli model the other one is not paid because he is a volunteer who can not eat of the tithe because he is not a Pastor/Levite! Hence my concern of whether or not we can appropriately import the specifics of the ancient Israeli system of tithing and apply it to the modern church. For example,we know that Levites had no inheritance not even a farm save for a small residential place amongst their people because they were to live off the tithes. None of them, their wives or children were to be involved in any kind of work except at the holy sanctuary!(somebody correct me if I misunderstood this teaching otherwise that is what I know). Can the same be said of our Pastors today? Absolutely no! They are full time church workers but for some, their wives and children are into different professions, doctors, nurses, CEOs name it! Is this then a perfect system where we can confidently claim a holy tithe exclusive to Pastors who we call Priests? My answer is a no, that is my opinion. My proposal is that we should let the tithes be used to advance the gospel and pay any body who convinces the church that they are doing the work of winning souls, irrespective of whether they are Pastors or not.Maurice stated in one of his posts that this is what is currently happening in Australia, that excess tithe money is not stored in banks but redistributed to local churches (I hope i heard him correctly). This is excellent, I pray it is done every where.

    • If the tithe would go to the ministers and the poor, then why the SDA denomination collect tithe from the local churches just for the ministers and spare nothing for the poor? Does it mean that I have the privilege to designate for which purpose of my tithe be it for the poor or for the ministers?

  3. Thanks Maurice for that summary, my concern is how do we apply it in today's system.

    Did Jesus paid tithes?

    The disciples paid taxes were they required to pay tithes?

    How do this relate to the first day of the week collection for those who are in need?

    • Paul said he did not want to be a burden to anyone so he worked for his needs, that the people would not think he wanted to depend on them for his needs.

  4. Thank you Maurice for explaining some details of tithing.

    It is a fascinating subject to me and I hope to learn more about it.

    Your statement, "Be humble and acknowledge God as the source of your wealth" may be difficult for some people to accept in this age of materialism.

    It seems I had two eras in my childhood: one in Detroit, MI and one in Grosse Pointe, MI. In Grosse Pointe, we had money. Not an endless supply, but we had a cabin cruiser boat, my parents traveled to Europe and took cruises in the Caribbean. There were cocktail parties every weekend. My mother had a chest of real jewelry. From an early age, I decided I didn't want jewelry or the life of materialism. And I stuck to those ideals. When I left home, I was dirt poor for 5 years, and poor for 5 more years. During that time, I became a Christian and learned about tithing. God had pulled me out of a huge pit, so I was very grateful and happy to give a tithe and a second tithe for an offering. It wasn't much, but it was my delight.

    I am no longer poor, but I still delight to give tithes and offerings. There have been times when I have been very strapped for money but I still gave. The motivation for me has always been that God is good, He loved me enough to die for me and eternal life is waiting for me.

    Thank you Maurice for this post and the information you have shared with us.

  5. The issue of the second tithe that children of Israel were instructed to set aside for eating food in Jerusalem has exercised my mind a little bit until I remembered something that Peter Roennfeldt, an Adventist minister here in Australia had said about the importance of eating together as part of our outreach. This prompted me to do a little search in the book of Acts where I remembered several references to eating together. This is what I found:

    Acts 2:42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.

    Acts 2: 46 And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

    Acts 20: 7 On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to leave the next day, preached to them and continued his message until midnight.

    Acts 20: 12 When he had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed for a long while until dawn and departed.

    Acts 27: 35 When he had said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all. And when he had broken it he began to eat.

    In the big picture I wonder if the disciples and the early Christian Church had somehow internalised the importance of the second tithe in a very practical way. Sharing food together was a significant part of the early Christian Church as is evidenced by the number of references to it in Acts.

    Perhaps there is a biblical precedent for "potluck" lunches after all.

  6. Thanx Maurice for the information suppliedge . Now i hear that there were three tithes system in Israeli according to your explanation .
    The first being tithe of the land
    which was meant for the levites
    2nd tithe of the animals meant for sacrifices n belonged to GOD and
    thirdly, tithe for the poor, widows n the like.

    among the 3 tithes mentioned here, which one is considered as offerings here? Or
    do we nid to return both 3 tithes to the storehouse ?

    • Your analysis is not quite the way I see it.

      1) the first tithe of crops and herds was to support the Levites (90%) and the priests (10%) - Years 1-6 of the seven year cycle
      2) the second tithe of crops and herds was used by the people for eating in Jesusalem (quite possibly for the feasts although that is not specifically stated) - Years 1, 2, 4, 5 of the seven year cycle
      3) the third tithe was essentially the same as the second but was collected in years 3 and 6 of the seven year cycle and given to the poor and the stranger in the land.

      The seventh year was supposed to be a Sabbath year and no tithe was collected that year. Any crop that grew that year could be used by anyone. (as I mentioned in my original article, I am not sure that this was ever carried out.)

      The animals for sacrifices were not part of the tithe system as such, although there are other offering mentioned that do have a direct bearing on that.

      Regarding your question: I think the first tithe essentially models the principles on which our tithe system is based. However, there are also principles in the other tithes that we can apply as well. I have written a comment earlier about a possible application of the second tithe which has the potential to be very useful.

      Hope that helps.

  7. Thank you very much for the detail on tithing. it was very informative and interesting to read. the summary of it all is that ALL is from God, we are to be thankful and return the tithe in the storehouse so all areas of the church and community will not lack.

  8. Thank you for this post. I'm still in the dark on 2nd and 3rd tithing and how or what percentage of my earnings I should offer.

    • The second tithe was essentially put towards the religious festive times and the third tithe was for the poor and the stranger within your gate. To put a modern interpretation on the second and third tithes see what I have written in the comments above. I think that the most important thing to remember is that we should give with a thankful heart.


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