Do I Need To Tithe?

Herd of Sheep in the Galilee, Israel

What does the Tanach (Bible) say? There are several different types of tithes spoken about in The Torah. What are the tithes, how were they administered, and how do they apply to us today? Lets look at the tithing commandments.

The Tithes can be divided into two major groups.

I. Group A consists of:
A. the tithe of produce
B. the tithe of the herd of the flock
C. the Levite tithe

II. Group B consists of:
A. the tithe of increase
B. the poor tithe

Group A Explanation

Group A consists of Agricultural Tithes. This tithe was not based on an increase, it was on what you possessed. If you were a Herd or Crop Farmer this tithe would apply to you. The Herd Farmer would give a tenth of his Herd to the local Levite, and the Crop Farmer would give a tenth of his first produce to the local Levite. The Levite would in turn take a tenth of his adjusted herd or crop to the Temple in Jerusalem. The following gives more detail.

The Tithe of Produce
Numbers 18:24
A heave offering given to The Levities for their inheritance
Heave Offering: (terumah) a present in sacrifice or as tribute – a general name for an offering to the Sanctuary or to the priests. The produce tithes, but as used for the dough offering and ½ Shekel contribution.

The Tithe of The Herd of the Flock
Lev. 27:32 – 33
One tenth of the count is Holy to The Lord, no mater what condition it is in. When it passes under the rod it belongs to The Lord.
It cannot be exchanged or redeemed.

The Levite Tithe
Numbers 18:26 – 32
Levities are to give 1/10 of what they receive as a “Heave Offering” to Arron and The Priests.

The following chart gives a visual flow of how these tithes were interrelated

The Tithe of Produce and the Tithe of The Herd of the Flock is only given to the local Levite. The Levitical Tithe is only given to The High Priest and the Priest in Jerusalem.

Group B Explanation

This tithe is based on a families “Increase”. An example may be that we have been obedient to the teachings and ordinances of Torah, and G-d has blessed our family. So in turn we give back to G-d a tithe or a tenth of our increase. If we are a Crop Farmers and our increase in the crop, from the previous year, that we harvest is a 1,000 bushels, then we will return to G-d a tenth of the 1,000 bushels or 100 bushels.
This is done in a 7 year cycle. The Tithe of Increase is to be taken to Jerusalem, unless you can’t, and then you can convert it to money and take a vacation to someplace you enjoy, each year except on the 3rd ,6th, & 7th years. On the 7th year the ground is to set aside with no harvesting, it is a Sabbath year. Following the 7th or Sabbath year the cycle starts over again. This tithe is collected and stored for the poor on the 3rd and 6th years. It is kept in a Storehouse until required.

The Tithe of Increase
Deu. 14:22 – 27 and Lev. 27:30 – 31
The only Tithe with two Biblical references.
Increase of your grain that your field produces annually.
You shell eat it before The Lord in Jerusalem with new wine, oil, the first born of your flock, that you may learn to “fear The Lord”.
If the journey is too far for you to carry the tithe you may exchange it for money, take the money and go to Jerusalem and spend it for what ever you choose.

The Poor Tithe
Deu. 14:28
Actually a part of the Second Tithe, yet a separate tithe.
Is done on the third and sixth year in the Sabbatical cycle, instead or in place of the Second Tithe.
A tithe (1/10th.) of your produce and stored up with in your gates for:
The Levite
The Stranger
The Fatherless
The Widow
and The Lord will bless you.

…………………………….So A Storehouse is needed!
Deut. 26:12 – 19
Tithe of Increase in the third year (The Year of Tithing)
Given to:
The Levite
The Stranger
The Fatherless
The Widow
So they may eat in our gates and “be filled”.

Malachi 3:8 – 12

Verse 10
Bring the Tithe to The Storehouse
food in My house
try Me now in this
I will open the windows of Heaven and pour out blessings – not room to receive.

The Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow are very important to God!
When fulfilling this commandment He will pour out His blessings on us.

So it appears that Malachi 3:8 – 12 is referring to the poor tithe, which would only be given during the 3rd and 6th years of the Sabbatical Cycle. And the Tithe of Increase is used and/or consumed by the giver.

The following is a graphical explanation of how this cycle works:

In Conclusion……

We have looked at Scripture to learn the method established for tithing. Tithing is a method of giving back to G-d, as we are blessed by Him. This is accomplished by giving to the Levite, with the Tithe of Produce or Herd of the Flock. The Tithe of Increase is a separate tithe that is to be taken to The Temple, if possible on the 1st , 2nd, 4th , 5th years, or if not possible the family is to enjoy the proceeds by going where they desire. On the third and sixth year it is to be taken to the Storehouse for the poor. On the seventh year nothing happens because the ground sits, because it is a Sabbath year.

Can we follow Scripture by tithing today? If you attend a Synagogue with active Levites and your Synagogue has an active program for helping the poor, then you probably can keep the tithing commandments. But if you are tithing and the money is just going to support a religious non profit organization, than I would say this is not tithing according to Scripture. Its a method of determining how much to donate to the organization. Tithing is much more than that.

A few years ago I read an article titled “Their ministry is keeping you awake” by Roy Rivenburg. The article is about church pews – it was the renting of these church pews that financed the operation of the local houses of worship for many years, until the introduction of taking up a collection at the services. Following is an excerpt form that article:

“Its a considerable leap from the church accommodations of the past. Until the Middle Ages, pews didn’t even exist. People stood, wandered around, chatted and even brought in pets, says historian Collen McDannell of the University of Utah. It wasn’t until about the 13th. century, in northern Europe, that the first pews – made of stone or wood – are believed to have appeared. By the 1700’s, church seats had evolved into elaborate private booth – owned or rented by families – and were such status symbols that people handed them down in wills and fought over them in lawsuits. Pew rental fees brought in so much money that churches didn’t even introduce collection plates until the late 1800’s, Ms McDannell says.”

The routine tithe from the produce or herd goes to the Levite who teaches and is the local Spiritual Leader. This tithe helps him meet his living expenses. He in turn tithes forward to Jerusalem. But what about the expenses of the organization, the building, and all that goes with that? Outside of tithing to the Levite, if he is a Levite, the organization and the structure is not a part of the tithe, with the exception of the “poor tithe” .

Many Synagogues have membership and each member is aware of their obligation to the operation and expenses of the Synagogue. Each member pays a membership fee sometimes based on their income and others just have a flat fee, depending on the Synagogue. During the year there will be several “fund raising” events to raise money for various projects in the organization. In keeping with the commandments money is never received or collected on the Sabbath. This sounds like a very “above board” method and is not using Scripture out of context.

After 70 ACE when the last Temple was destroyed, the local “House of Prayer” became known as “Synagogue”. The Temple services could no longer take place in the Temple, so the services were transfered to the newly formed Synagogue, and these Synagogues basically took the place of the Temple until the third Temple is constructed. The sacrifices as per Scripture are now replaced by prayer and any tithing that would would be directed to the Temple would now be directed to the Synagogue.

by, Jim Behnke

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