The Old Covenant Tithing System


No 2nd or 3rd Tithe
-
Grown Food, Animal Products, Animals





The Tithing System under the Old Covenant




The subject of the Old Covenant tithing is quite complex and will be
discussed under several headings.


     1)  The Overall Tithing System 

     2)  No Second Tithe - No Third Tithe

     3)  Was there a Tithe of Animals?

     4)  Tithing in the Book of Genesis



* THE OVERALL TITHING SYSTEM *


OLD COVENANT TITHING SYSTEM


1)  The tithing system, which started in Genesis, served a very useful
    purpose under the Old Covenant.
 
    It served to support the tribe of Levi who
    had not been allocated a share of the land
    divided amongst the other tribes of Israel.
    Instead the Levites were to receive as an
    inheritance the tithes of the 12 tribes
    in return for assisting the priests in
    performing the work of the tabernacle of
    meeting.
    Num   18:1   Then the LORD said to Aaron: ...

            :6   Behold, I Myself have taken your brethren the Levites
                 from among the children of Israel; they are a gift to
                 you [Aaron], given by the LORD, to do the work of the
                 tabernacle of meeting.

            :21  Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes
                 in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which
                 they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.  

Note the Priesthood also had an inheritance!

    Num   18:20  Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You shall have no
                 inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any
                 portion among them; I am your portion and your
                 inheritance among the children of Israel.


2)  The tithe of the produce of the children of Israel was to be offered
    to the priesthood!


    Heb    7:5   And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi,
                 who receive the priesthood, have a commandment
                 to receive tithes from the people according to
                 the law, that is from their brethren, ...

    Num   18:8   And the LORD spoke to Aaron: "Here, I myself
                 have given you charge of My heave offerings,
                 all the holy gifts of the children of Israel;
                 ...

    NB: When reading Numbers 18:25-32 it seems to suggest tithes were
        offered to the non-priesthood Levites. However, we can see
        from the following text that the non-priesthood Levites could
        not receive the tithes of the children of Israel unless a
        Levite priest was present. 
    
        Neh   10:38  And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall
                     be with the Levites when the Levites receive
                     tithes; ...   



3)  It seems that two slightly different tithing arrangements existed.

    - Tithing in the farming communities

      Neh   10:37  ... and to bring the tithes of our land to
                   the Levites, for the Levites should receive
                   the tithes in all our farming communities. 
              :38  And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall
                   be with the Levites when the Levites receive
                   tithes; ...   

    - Tithing direct to Jerusalem

      2Chr  31:4   Moreover he (Hezekiah) commanded the people
                   who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support
                   for the priests and Levites, ...
              :5   As soon as the commandment was circulated,
                   the children of Israel brought in abundance
                   ... and they brought in abundantly the tithe
                   of everything. 



4)  A tenth of the tithe provided by the children of Israel was to
    be offered to the LORD.

    Num   18:26  ... When you take from the children of Israel
                 the tithes which I have given you ... then you
                 then you shall offer up a heave offering of it
                 to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe. 

    If the tithe had been received in a farming
    community then this 'tenth of the tithe' was
    to be transported to Jerusalem.

    Neh   10:38  ... and the Levites shall bring
                 up a tenth of the tithes to the
                 house of our God, to the rooms of
                 the storehouse. 
     
5)  Once the 'tenth of the tithe' had been selected and offered the
    remaining 9/10ths of the tithe would be available to support the
    Levites. This 9/10th's would be considered as if was the produce
    of the threshing floor and winepress.

    Num   18:30  ... then the rest shall be accounted to the
                 Levites as the produce of the threshing
                 floor and as the produce of the winepress.
            :31  You may eat it in any place, you and your
                 households, for it is your reward for your
                 work in the tabernacle of meeting.

    [NB: 1) Since much of the tithe of the tribes of Israel would
            have been presented outside of Jerusalem, where many
            of the Levites and priests dwelt, redistribution of
            the 9/10ths was minimized.
         2) For the tithe offered at Jerusalem the priesthood was
            responsible for ensuring the Levites serving in Jerusalem
            received their due portion of the 9/10ths. Refer Neh 13:10
            and 2Chr 31:17. ]



6)  The tithe was not collected year round. 2Chr 31:7 records that
    even around Jerusalem the tithe did not arrive outside of the
    third to seventh month. These months corresponded to the period
    between the 3rd month observance of the Feast of Weeks and the
    7th month observance of the Feast of Ingathering. 
   
    - Around Jerusalem
 
      2Chr  31:7   In the third month they began laying them in heaps,
                   and they finished in the seventh month.


    NB: Outside of Jerusalem the priests who lived in outlying
        areas would bring the 'tenth of the tithe' to Jerusalem
        when they journeyed to the city to observe the 7th month
        feast.



7) The Priesthood also tithed!

    Matt  23:23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
                 For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,
                 and have neglected the weightier matters of the
                 law: ...

    The priestly tithe was later to be set aside in their cities and
    be fully distributed to the poor.

    Deut  14:28  ... bring out the tithe of your produce of that year
                 and store it up within your gates.
            :29  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, ...

    Since the Priesthood carried this responsibility, Christ was
    justified in accusing them for the plight of widows. 

    Matt  23:14  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
                 For you devour widows' houses, ...



8) Scripture advises the tithe was composed of;

        - grain, wine, oil and honey

        - plus all other produce of the land

        - plus other items from the land
    2Chr  31:5   As soon as the commandment was circulated,
                 the children of Israel brought in abundance
                 the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and
                 honey, and of all the produce of the field;
                 and they brought in abundantly the tithe of
                 everything.
    The 'other items from the land included, milk, curd, wool and fleece. 
 

    Num   13:27  Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land
                 where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey,
                 and this is its fruit.
  
    Deut  18:4   The firstfruits of your grain and your new
                 wine and your oil, and the first [best] of the
                 fleece of your sheep, you shall give him.



9)  The tithe was composed of the best of the land.


       Num   18:12  All the best of the oil, all the best of the new
                    wine and grain, their firstfruits which they offer
                    to the LORD, I have given them to you (Aaron). 


       Num   18:29  'Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave
                    offering due to the LORD, from all the best of
                    them, the consecrated part of them.'
               :30  Therefore you shall say to them: 'When you have
                    lifted up the best of it, ...
               :32  And you shall bear no sin because of it, when
                    you have lifted up the best of it. ...  

 

10) All the tithe received from the children of Israel was initially holy.

    Lev  27:30   And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed
                 of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's.
                 It is holy to the LORD.


    For this reason the 'tithe of the tithe' could be called the 'tithe
    of holy things'.

    2Chr  31:6   And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in
                 the cities of Judah, brought ... also the tithe of
                 holy things which were consecrated to the LORD their
                 God they laid in heaps.


    Since the 'tithe of the tithe' retained its holy nature it was
    important to store it separately from the other 9/10ths (which
    had become as the produce of the threshing floor and winepress).



* NO SECOND TITHE - NO THIRD TITHE *


2ND & 3RD TITHE VERSES


Failure to properly discern how this system functioned has caused some
scholars to incorrectly envisage the existence of second and third tithe
requirements. Such perspectives have arisen due to the following;


 2nd Tithe  -  Deut 14:22-26, 12:5-7,17-18; which discuss the
               eating of the tithe at the feast(s) every year.

 3rd Tithe  -  Deut 14:27-29, 26:12-14; which call for the
               feeding of the Levite, stranger, fatherless
               and widow; apparently every three years.
               Also Amos 4:4 is usually translated to
               confirm a tithe after 3 years. 


It should be noted that in Scripture there is no example of either
the so called 'second tithe' or the 'third tithe'!

Many have also pointed out that there exists a lack of lengthy
supportive texts detailing and justifying such tithes!

Obviously if these tithes truly existed they would have represented
a significant feature of the Law.


For these reasons some have correctly concluded there was only ever
the one first tithe system.

What has been missing is clear explanations of how the relevant
verses should be translated and understood.   


NO 2ND TITHE !


The view that a second tithe exists results from indications that a
tithe was eaten by the children of Israel during the 7th month feast.
This view has largely resulted from an incorrect translation of
Deut 14:22.

Most bibles read,
                   Deut  14:22  You shall surely tithe all the increase
                                of your grain that the field produces
                                year by year.
 
but should read,
                   Deut  14:22  Tithes you tithe all the increase
                                of your grain that the field produces
                                year by year. 


In the Hebrew the word 'tithe' is encountered twice at the very start
of this verse. In addition the Hebrew word for 'surely' is not found
in this verse.

The 'Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament' by JR Kohlenberger 
for example shows the initial portion of this verse to read,

NB: Read backwards, ie right to left!

tithe you tithe

Since in verseHebrew tithe means 'tithe' and Hebrew you means 'you', a literal
rendering provides;

    Deut  14:22  Tithe you tithe ....


What translators have failed to realize is that this verse has not
been trying to convey an emphatic statement. Hence the common rendering
'You shall truly tithe' has been very misleading.

This difference is very important! It means that this verse is not
being directed toward the lay people of Israel!

The text of Deut 14:22 is being directed toward one of the two groups
within Israel, which both received and paid tithes. Either the tribe
of Levi (excluding the Priesthood) or the Priesthood division, as
both received and also paid tithes!


What has also led to much of the confusion is the subsequent text
of this verse 'your grain that the field produces year by year'.
At first one may feel that this text could only be referring to
the common people of Israel who grew the nation's crops.

However, this line of reasoning ignores the fact that Scripture
advises that once tithe is received and it is itself tithed upon,
the remaining 9/10th's is to be considered by that group as if it
was 'the produce of the field' and 'the produce of the winepress'.

    Num   18:30  Therefore you shall say to them: 'When you have
                 lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be
                 accounted to the Levites as the produce of the
                 threshing floor and as the produce of the
                 winepress.

The field for the 12 tribes of Israel was the literal field, but the
field for the tribe of Levi was 9/10th's of the provided tithe of the
12 tribes and the field for the Priesthood was 9/10th's of the provided
tithe of the tribe of Levi. 


So to whom is the following text of Deut 14:23-27 directed? Toward
the Levites or the Priests?

The answer can be found in verse 27.

    Deut  14:27  You shall not forsake the Levite who is
                 within your gates, for he has no part
                 nor inheritance with you.

Many have misunderstood this verse. While it is true all the tribes
of Israel received a significant inheritance of land except for the
Levites, this verse is not talking about this situation. What the
verse is discussing is that the Priesthood were not to forsake the
Levites who dwelt within the cities allocated to the Priesthood.

NB: The leaders of the Levites would have been primarily responsible
    for gradually sharing out the tithe of the children of Israel
    amongst their tribe (after Levi had themselves tithed upon the
    tithes they received). No doubt storing most of their received
    tithe in the Levite cities.
    However, for Levites living in cities of the Priesthood
    (who would have been actively assisting the Priesthood)
    the Priesthood had to extend support. As these Levites had
    'no inheritance', because they were present in the cities
    of the Priesthood and not living in the cities of Levi.

    [ NB: 1) Excluding Jerusalem, the priests were allocated
             13 cities in the Promised Land.
             From the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin.
             Refer Josh 21:4,8-19.
          2) The Levites, who were not priests, were allocated
             35 cities in the Promised Land.
             These cities were allocated from the remaining
             nine tribes; Ephraim, Dan, Manasseh, Issachar,
             Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, Reuben and Gad.
             Refer Josh 21:5-7,20-40. ]
 

To help one understand the text of Deut 14:22-27 it is helpful to
understand the following.

    Neh   10:37  ... and to bring the tithes of our land to the
                 Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes
                 in all our farming communities.
            :38  And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be
                 with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes;
                 and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the
                 tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of
                 the storehouse.


In the outlying areas the Levites received the tithe in the presence
of a priest. And the 'Levites' (the Levites who were priests, with
the help of any assisting Levites) then brought a tenth of this tithe
(from the tribe of Levi) up to Jerusalem.

It was the priests living in the outlying
areas of Israel which took the tenth of
the tithe to Jerusalem. The 'tithe of
the tithe' was the responsibility of the
Priesthood!
Once the Priesthood had themselves tithed
they were to able to utilise the balance
at the feast of the 7th month. They were
permitted to convert some of it to cash if
otherwise unable to transport it to the
place where God had placed His name.

The text of Deuteronomy 14:22-27 is saying the following:

    Deut  14:22  Tithe you tithe, all the increase of your grain that
                 the field produces year by year.
            :23  And you (priests) shall eat before the LORD your God,
                 in the place where He chooses to make His name abide,
                 the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your
                 oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks,
                 that you (priests) may learn to fear the LORD your
                 God always.
            :24  But if the journey is too long for you (priests), so
                 that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the
                 place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name
                 is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed
                 you,
            :25  then you shall exchange it for money, take the money
                 in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD
                 your God chooses.
            :26  And you shall spend that money for whatever your
                 heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or
                 similar drink, for whatever your heart desires;
                 you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and
                 you shall rejoice, you and your household.
            :27  You (priests) shall not forsake the Levite who is
                 within your gates (cities), for he has no part nor
                 inheritance with you.


The text of Deuteronomy 12:17-18 is saying the following:

    Deut  12:17  You (priests) may not eat within your gates the tithe
                 of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the
                 firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your
                 offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings,
                 or of the heave offering of your hand.
            :18  But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the
                 place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your
                 son and your daughter, your male servant and your
                 female servant, and the Levite who is within your
                 gates (cities); and you shall rejoice before the LORD
                 your God in all to which you put your hands.

In reference to Deut 12:17, note what Numbers chapter 18 states was to
be given to the Priesthood.

    Num   18:8   And the LORD spoke to Aaron: "Here, I Myself have
                 also given you charge of My heave offerings, all the
                 holy gifts of the children of Israel; I have given
                 them as a portion to you and your sons, as an ordinance
                 forever.
            :12  All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine
                 and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to
                 the LORD, I have given them to you.
            :15  Everything that first opens the womb of all flesh,
                 which they bring to the LORD, whether man or beast,
                 shall be yours; ...
            :19  All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the
                 children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to
                 you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance
                 forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the
                 LORD with you and your descendants with you."


A lack of proper discernment has caused many to falsely teach that the
children of Israel were required to set aside a second 10% of their
increase. 

The so called 'second tithe' verses were in reality advising how the
Priesthood were to handle the 'tithe of the tithe', which they received
from the Levites.


NO 3RD TITHE !


The so called 'third tithe' was to be directed toward the Levite,
stranger, fatherless and the widow. 

    Deut  14:28  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.
            :29  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.

    Deut  26:12  When you have finished laying aside all the
                 tithe of your increase in the third year,
                 which is 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.
            :13  then you shall say before the Lord 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, ...


[ NB: The words in italics, ie 'every', 'which is', 'tithe' and 'my'
      have all been added by the translators. ]

These apparent references to a tithe given to the poor, every 'third
year', created a view that a 'third tithe' also existed. Although,
some have been of the opinion that this was merely a redirection of
either the first or 'second tithe'.


Such confusion has resulted from not understanding;

        1) the Priesthood also tithed.

   and  2) when the Priesthood tithed.

THE PRIESTHOOD ALSO TITHED

The New Testament highlights an Old Covenant requirement which is not
immediately apparent. The Priesthood also had to tithe!

    Matt  23:23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
                 For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,
                 and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:
                 justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to
                 have done, without leaving the others undone.


The New Testament also points out that the Priesthood was responsible
for showing care for widows.

    Matt  23:14  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
                 For you devour widows' houses, ...


An Old Testament example which shows that there was a further tithe
of the 'tithe of the tithe', ie a 1,000th of the plunder:

    Num   31:32  The booty remaining from the plunder,
                 which the men of war had taken, was
                 six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep,
            :33  seventy-two thousand cattle,
            :34  sixty-one thousand donkeys,
            :35  and thirty-two thousand persons in all, ...

            :37  and the Lord's tribute of the sheep was
                 six hundred and seventy-five.
            :38  The cattle ... of which the Lord's tribute was
                 seventy-two.
            :39  The donkeys ... of which the Lord's tribute was
                 sixty-one.
            :40  The persons ... of which the Lord's tribute was
                 thirty-two persons.
            :41  So Moses gave the tribute which was the Lord's
                 heave offering to Eleazar the priest, as the LORD
                 commanded Moses.

Notice the Lord's heave offering of 675 sheep, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys
and 32 people represented exactly a 1,000th of the remaining plunder,
which had been, 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and
32,000 people. 

[ NB: The Numbers chapter 31 text is rather confusing, but it
      illustrates that after the men of war had taken spoil
      for themselves (Num 31:53) there was the recorded quantity
      of animals and woman. From this 100th (a 50th of half)
      was given to the Priesthood (Levites who kept charge
      of the Tabernacle). In addition 1,000th (a 500th of half)
      was given to Eleazar the priest to be a heave offering
      to the Lord. ]
 

WHEN THE PRIESTHOOD TITHED

The translations of the texts Deuteronomy 14:28 and 26:12 indicate that
the so called 'third tithe' occurred every third year.
  
    Deut  14:28  At the end of every third year you
                 shall bring out the tithe of your
                 produce in year that, and store it
                 up within your gates.

          26:12  When you have finished laying aside all
                 the tithe of your increase in the year
                 the third year, which is the year of
                 tithing, and have given it to the Levite,
                 the stranger, the fatherless, and the
                 widow, ... 


Tithing took place every year, so it makes no sense to try and define
a new tithe (which was to be given every third year) and then say,
'only every third year was to be known as a year of tithing'. Quite
clearly every year was a year of tithing!

Unfortunately translators have been unable to properly translate these
texts because they themselves have failed to grasp what was actually
being stated. 

What we have noticed so far is that the 'third tithe' was to be given
to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow.
We also know the priesthood tithed. Also, that their tithe was known
as the 'Lord's heave offering'.  

By what time of the year had all the tithe been laid in heaps.

    2Chr  31:6   ... also the tithe of holy things which were
                 consecrated to the LORD their God they laid in
                 heaps.
            :7   In the third month they began laying them in heaps,
                 and they finished in the seventh month.

The laying in heaps of the tithe finished in the seventh month.

[ NB: The Old Covenant established three annual feasts.
      The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest
      and the Feast of Ingathering. Refer Exodus 23:14-16.
      (NB: These feasts were also known by other names.)
      In a normal 12 month year these were celebrated in
      the 1st, 3rd and 7th months respectively. ]


What this meant was that at the 3rd feast all the priesthood tithe
had been accumulated. The 3rd feast was the time of the year when
tithing for the year was completed. 

The apparent 'third year' references in Deut 14:28 and 26:12 were
actually referring to the third and final festival of the year!

It was at the time of the third feast that the priesthood was
to declare the following;

    Deut  26:13  then you shall say before the Lord 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.
            :14  I have not eaten any of it when in mourning,
                 nor have I removed any of it for any unclean
                 use, nor given 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.'

The priesthood were a privileged group and it is clear that God was
seeking through the requirement for this declaration to ensure they
fulfilled their obligation to Him and gave all the Lord's holy heave
offering to those for whom He intended to be the beneficiaries. 


So let us now take another look at Deuteronomy 14:28 and 26:12.

Hebrew reads,
           Deut  14:28  Extremity three years shall bring forth
                        all the tithe of your produce in year that,
                        and lay it up within your gates.


Meaning is,
           Deut  14:28  Extremity three, two shall bring forth
                        all the tithe of your produce in year that,
                        and lay it up within your gates.
 
In this verse the particular combination of Hebrew letters translated
'years' can also be translated 'two'. The choice being determined
by context.

    [ NB: The Hebrew is . As the received Hebrew is
          comprised only of Hebrew consonants (no vowels)
          there is ambiguity over exactly what word is
          intended. The addition of different vowels can
          mean that  can be rendered as 'two', 'years'
          or even 'teeth'. ]  
  
The verse is saying that at the end of three, ie the third festival,
two people would be responsible for distributing the contents of
the storehouse out to the other cities of the priests.
 
[ NB: In Scripture we find confirmation that indeed two people
      were to be responsible for the distribution of this wealth.
 
       Neh   13:13  And I appointed as treasurers over the
                    storehouse Shelemiah the priest and
                    Zadock the scribe, ... ]

At the end of the third festival the priesthood tithe was to be
distributed to the cities of the priests where it would be available
to be gradually shared out to the poor during the months before the
next third feast.   


Hebrew reads,
              Deut  26:12  When you have finished laying aside all
                           the tenth of your increase in the year
                           the third, year of tithing, and have
                           given it to the Levite, the stranger,
                           the fatherless, and the widow ...

Meaning is,
              Deut  26:12  When you have finished laying aside all
                           the tenth of your increase in the year,
                           the third, the time of the year of
                           tithing, and have given it to the Levite,
                           the stranger, the fatherless, and the
                           widow ...

This verse appears immediately before the requirement for the
priesthood to declare the Lord's heave offering had been given
to the Levite, stranger, fatherless and widow. During the course
of the previous year, after the distribution to the cities of the
priests, the tithe must have been fully given to the Levite,
stranger, fatherless and widow.

AMOS 4:4

There is also a third verse which typically is thought to refer to
a third year tithe,
 
    Amos   4:4   ... Bring your sacrifices every morning,
                 your tithes every three years.
                 (quoted from NIV)

The relevant Hebrew actually says,

    Amos   4:4   ... and bring for morning sacrifices of you,
                 for three days tithes of you.


So Amos 4:4 appears to be stating that the priest's tithe was to be
brought into the storehouse upon three particular days. 

2ND AND 3RD TITHE CONCLUSION


The verses discussing the so called 'second' and 'third' tithes have
been poorly understood. Translators have not taken the time to fully
consider the message of these verses and have perhaps been too willing
to simply mirror existing questionable Jewish notions.

This study has shown that rather than introducing further tithing
requirements these verses have actually been highlighting further
facets of the well documented 'first' tithe system. Particularly
the guidelines, rules and responsibilities Scripture places on the
Priesthood.



* WAS THERE A TITHE OF ANIMALS? *


A TITHE OF ANIMALS?        

It is commonly taught by those discussing the Old Covenant tithing system
that the 12 tribes of Israel also tithed a tenth of their flock and herd.
This confusion has arisen due to the following:


   1)  2Chr 31:6; which talks about the 'tithe of oxen and sheep'.

   2)  Lev 27:32-33; which mentions a 'tithe' or tenth of the herd
       and flock being considered holy.


2 CHRONICLES 31:6

    2Chr  31:4  Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem
                to contribute support for the priests and the Levites,
                that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD.
            :5  As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children
                of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain
                and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the
                field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of
                everything.
            :6  And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the
                cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep;
                also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated
                to the LORD their God they laid in heaps.
            :7  In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and
                they finished in the seventh month.
            :8  And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps,
                they blessed the LORD and His people Israel.
            :9  Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites
                concerning the heaps.


When one reads the text of these verses it is quite apparent that neither
live or dead animals would be just placed in a heap. It is also apparent
the context of this text is 'produce of the field', in other words there
is no suggestion animals were being included.


In these verses the reference to 'tithe of oxen and sheep' should actually
read 'tithe of the herd and flock'. The thought being advanced is the tithe
of such products as milk, butter and wool. Products coming from the farmed
animals, which were not the animals themselves. 
 

Some verses which mention these products are:


    Deut  18:4   The firstfruits [best fruit] of your grain and your
                 new wine and your oil, and the first [best] of the
                 fleece [wool] of your sheep, you shall give him.
    Exod  23:19  The first of the firstfruits of your land
                 you shall bring into the house of the LORD
                 your God. You shall not boil a young goat
                 in its mother's milk.

          34:26  The first of the firstfruits of your land
                 you shall bring to the house of the LORD
                 your God. You shall not boil a young goat
                 in its mother's milk."
    Num   13:27  Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land
                 where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey,
                 and this is its fruit.
                 (Note: 'honey' is mentioned in above in 2Chr 31:5.)

    Deut  32:14  Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, ...

    1Sam   6:7   Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows
                 which have never been yoked, ...
  
    Hos    2:9   Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its
                 time and My new wine in its season, and will take back
                 My wool and My linen, ... 


LEVITICUS 27:32-33

    Lev   27:30  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of
                 the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's.
                 It is holy to the LORD.
            :31  If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he
                 shall add one-fifth to it.
            :32  And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of
                 whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be
                 holy to the LORD.
            :33  He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor
                 shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all,
                 then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy;
                 it shall not be redeemed.


At first this verse seems to be the one verse which clearly confirms the
existence of a tithe of the herd and flock. 

It is strange however, that in respect to tithing, the thought 'of your
grain, new wine and oil' is commonly encountered (refer Deut 14:23, 
2Chr 31:5, Neh 10:37,39), but only in this verse do we encounter a tithe
of the herd and flock.
   

The answer lies in the alternate meaning of the
Hebrew for 'rod' (Strong's 7626) which is sometimes
translated 'sceptre', eg Gen 49:10. What Leviticus
27:32 is saying is that when a king ruled over the
children of Israel he would have to 'tithe' upon
the herd and flock he collected through taxation.
We find examples of this occurring in practice:

    2Chr  30:24  For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly
                 a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, ...

          31:33  The king also appointed a portion of his possessions
                 for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening
                 burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths
                 and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written
                 in the Law of the LORD.

          35:7   Then Josiah gave the lay people lambs and young goats
                 from the flock, all for Passover offerings for all who
                 were present, to the number of thirty thousand, as well
                 as three thousand cattle; these were from the king's
                 possessions.

 

   [ NB: 1) This tithe of animals was received from the king at Passover
            and also gradually through the year.
         2) Animals were also supplied by the leaders, refer 2Chr 30:24
            and 2Chr 35:8. From 2Chr 35:8-9 it is apparent the 'leaders'
            mentioned here were those of the priests and Levites. Those
            who would have had responsibility over the firstlings! ]


The Law predicted in advance that the children of Israel would request
to have a king over them (refer Deut 17:14-20). God later decreed that
the king would tax them at a rate of 10% (refer 1Sam 8:15-17).

    1Sam   8:15  He will take a tenth of your grain and your
                 vintage, and give it to his officers and
                 servants.
            :17  He will take a tenth of your sheep.
From this 10% tax the king was under Leviticus 27:32 required to tithe
10%. Thus one in every hundred new born animals (firstborns excluded)
would be used to meet the offering needs of the tabernacle.

    Ezek  45:15  "And one lamb [pushing out horns] shall be given
                 from a flock [out] of two hundred [horns], from
                 the rich pastures of Israel. These shall be for
                 grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace
                 offerings, to make atonement for them", says the
                 Lord GOD.     


Since the king also claimed 10% of the produce of the field he was also
required to give to the tabernacle a tithe of this also. By returning 10%
of his tax to the tabernacle for the offerings, the king was effectively
returning back to the people a hundredth of the lands produce.

    Neh    5:11  Restore now to them, even this day, their lands,
                 their vineyards, their olive groves, and their
                 houses, also a hundredth of the money and the
                 grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have
                 charged [lent] them."

    Ezek  45:11  The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure,
                 so that the bath contains one-tenth of a homer, and
                 the ephah one-tenth of a homer; their measure shall
                 be according to the homer.
            :13  This is the [heave] offering which you shall offer:
                   you shall give one-sixth of an ephah from a homer
                   of wheat, and one-sixth of an ephah from a homer
                   of barley.
            :14    The ordinance [requirement] concerning oil,
                   the bath of oil, is one-tenth of a bath from a kor.
                   A kor is a homer or ten baths, for ten baths are a
                   homer.

            (NB: The oil provided by the 'princes of Israel' (verse 9)
                 was to be 1 part in a hundred, ie 1/10th of a bath
                 from 10 baths. In respect to the grain the value of
                 a sixth is not so much a ratio, but a reference to
                 the 'sixth of an ephah' the prince was to offer every
                 morning, refer Ezek 46:14.)



* TITHING IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS *


In the book of Genesis tithing is introduced through the examples of
Abraham and Jacob.


ABRAHAM - CHAPTER 14


    Gen   14:18  Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out
                 bread and wine; he was the priest of God
                 Most High.
            :19  And he blessed him and said:
                  "Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
                   Possessor of heaven and earth;
            :20    And blessed be God Most High, Who has
                   delivered your enemies into your hand."
                 And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all.


Abraham had just defeated Chedorlaomer(Kedorlaomer) king of Elam and
three kings, with only his 318 trained servants and his allies Aner,
Eshcol and Mamre.

The purpose of the attack had been to rescue Lot who had been taken
captive by Chedorlaomer. God had given Abraham the victory so it was
appropriate to express gratitude.


From the spoils of victory Abraham gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek.
It is not clear exactly how the tithe was calculated since,
    a) people were amongst the spoils,
    b) portions belonged to Abraham's allies and
    c) people and possessions were returned to the king of Sodom.


The actual source of teaching which may have
led to this act of tithing is not clearly
stated. However the 'bread and wine'
mentioned in verse 18 have spiritual
counterparts.
The principle of tithing may have had its origin from teaching conveyed
at this time by Melchizedek to Abraham.


Even if the tithing principle was taught at this time it may have merely
been a refreshing of a principle which had existed since the creation of
Adam.


In any case it is evident from the following verse that Abraham obeyed
teachings received from God.

    Gen   26:5   "... Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge,
                  my commandments, my statutes and My laws."


JACOB - CHAPTER 28


    Gen   28:22  "... and of all that You give me I will surely
                  give a tenth to You."

This promise was made at Bethel following a vision Jacob had experienced
while sleeping. Jacob's promise to tithe was conditional upon the message
of the vision being personally applicable; ie keeping him in his travels,
giving him bread to eat and clothes to wear until he returned to his
fathers house.

    
Later in Genesis just prior to Jacob
returning to his home land we read of
him,

 Gen 30:43 Thus the man became exceedingly
           prosperous and had large flocks,
           female and male servants, and
           camels and donkeys.

Thus God had prospered Jacob and gave him
more than he could otherwise have earned.




The teaching embodied in these Genesis examples was subsequently
modified and incorporated into the law of Moses.







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