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Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Many Tithes?

How Many Tithes?
Tithe # 1 - Ma'aser Rishon in Hebrew was a tenth of the crops and the tenth animal that passes through the rod every year. The Levites were the recipients and this tithe could be eaten anywhere in Israel. Sub-tithe: A tenth of this tithe must be given to the Priests. Livestock was not redeemable but the crops were by paying 20% of money in addition to the actual value.
Other name(s): Levitical tithe, first tithe
Supporting scriptures: Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 18:25-32 and Hebrews 7:5-11

Tithe #2 - Ma'aser Sheni in Hebrew was a tenth of the crops only, not livestock. But Jews were commanded to add the firstborn animals, but not a tenth of the animals. The original owners were the recipients, could be eaten only in Jerusalem.  Buy back option not available. This tithe could be converted to money for transportation purposes only but in Jerusalem the same money must be used to buy food and it must be eaten by the owners, their families, relatives and the Levites. This tithe must be paid every year in one of the 3 festivals. No sub-tithe involved.
Other name(s): Festival tithe, feast tithe
Supporting scriptures:  Deuteronomy 12:16-21, 14:22-26, 16:16 & Exodus 23:14-17

Tithe # 3 - Ma'aser Ani in Hebrew - every 3rd year of the 7 year cycle. widows, orphans, Levites and the poor were the recipients and it should be only eaten within the gates of the city. No sub-tithe involved and no buy-back possible. 
Also after paying the 3rd tithe the tithers were required to offer a specific declaration and a prayer as prescribed in Deuteronomy 26:13-15. There are no instructions in the Mosaic law to offer any specific prayer after paying the 1st or 2nd tithes.
Other name(s): Welfare tithe, charity tithe, poor tithe
Supporting scriptures:  Deuteronomy 14:28,29 & Deuteronomy 26:12 – 15
The break down total of all three tithes:  20% over a 7-year period / 23.3% over a 6 year period are given below:

Year 1 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) = 20%
Year 2 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) = 20%
Year 3 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) + 10%  (Tithe #3) = 30%
Year 4 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) = 20%
Year 5 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) = 20%
Year 6 = 10% (Tithe #1) + 10% (Tithe #2) + 10%  (Tithe #3) = 30%

Year 7 = 0% - the seventh year land Sabbath (Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:20-22 and Deuteronomy 31:10-13) - Shmita (Hebrew: שמיטה‎, literally "release"), also called the Sabbatical Year, is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel.

140% / 7 = 20% - in 7 years

140% / 6 = 23.3 % - in 6 years

Wondering why the so-called tithe teachers never bother to mention multiple tithes?!
Are there proofs about practice of multiple tithes?
Yes, there are 3 important proofs outside the 66 books of the Bible.

a) Famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus who lived in the first century:

Antiquities of the Jews – Book 4, Chapter 8 and verse 22

“Besides those two tithes, which I have already said you are to pay every year, the one for the Levites, the other for the festivals, you are to bring every third year a third tithe to be distributed to those that want; to women also that are widows, and to children that are orphans.”

b) The Apocryphal book of Tobit:

Tobit the son of Tobiel, son of Ananiel, son of Aduel, son of Gabael, of the descendants of Asiel and the tribe of Naphtali in his own words.
Tobit 1:6 – But I alone went often to Jerusalem for the feasts, as it is ordained for all Israel by an everlasting decree. Taking the first fruits and the tithes of my produce and the first shearings, I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar.
Tobit 1:7 – Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem; a second tenth I would sell, and I would go and spend the proceeds each year at Jerusalem;
Tobit 1:8 – the third tenth I would give to those to whom it was my duty, as Deborah my father’s mother had commanded me, for I was left an orphan by my father.

c)  Christian Church Fathers who wrote about multiple tithes:

i) Jerome who included the book of Tobit in the Latin Bible (Vulgate)
Jerome says one tithe was given to the Levites, out of which they gave a tenth to the priests; a second    tithe was applied to festival purposes, and a third was given to the poor (Commentary on Ezekiel 45:1, 565. quoted in McClintock and Strong, 10, 434).

ii) John Chrysostom who was Archbishop of Constantinople (349–407 A.D) and a contemporary of Jerome believed that multiple tithes existed:

Homily 64 on Matthew 19:27 section 4

And how much did they bestow in alms? One may ask. For this very thing, I am minded to say now, that they who do not give may be roused to give, and they that give may not pride themselves, but may make increase of their gifts. What then did they give? A tenth of all their possessions, and again another tenth, and after this a third, so that they almost gave away the third part, for three-tenths put together make up this. And together with these, first fruits, and first born, and other things besides, as, for instance, the offerings for sins, those for purification, those at feasts, those in the jubilee, those by the canceling of debts, and the dismissals of servants, and the lendings that were clear of usury. But if he who gave the third part of his goods, or rather the half (for those being put together with these are the half), if then he who is giving the half, achieves no great thing, he who does not bestow so much as the tenth, of what shall he be worthy? With reason He said, “There are few that be saved.”

Jewish View Of Multiple Tithes:

a) The 12 century Jewish Halachic arbitrator Moses ben-Maimon called Maimonides also known as HaRambam

Maimonides: “On the third and sixth years from the sabbatical year, after they have separated the first tithe, they separate from what remains another tithe, and give it to the poor, and it is called the poor’s tithe; and not on those two years is the second tithe, but the poor’s tithe.” — Gill on Deuteronomy 14:28; Maimonides, Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 6, sect. 4. See also Speaker’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 14:28-29, and McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia, vol. 10. p. 433.]

b) Selden and Michaelis also argue in the same direction, saying that a third tithe should be an excessive demand upon the income of a man who had already expended two-tenths of his increase (McClintock and Strongs Cyclopaedia, vol. 10, p. 434).

c) Peake likewise says: “It may be urged that it is not probable that a double tribute should be exacted from the crops.” And again: “Nor is it probable that a tax of nearly one-fifth of the whole produce should be imposed on the farmers.” (Article “Tithe,” in Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, I, p. 780.)

d) Jewish Talmud (Mishna & Gemmarah)

Tithingstudy Response to Judaism's view on tithing:  So did the Jews pay only the welfare tithe (which we call as the 3rd tithe) on the 3rd and 6th years instead of the 1st and/or 2nd tithes?

a) Deuteronomy 26:12 mentions about “the year of tithing” because years 3 and 6 were the most expensive year for the Jews.

b) If the 3rd tithe had replaced the 1st tithe how did the Levites survive for those 2 years because they paid this tithes only at the end of the 3rd and 6th years.

c) If the 3rd tithe had replaced the 2nd tithe did the Jews not celebrate the 3 pilgrimage festivals during the 3rd and 6th years or did they celebrate the 3 pilgrimage festivals without bringing any food to Jerusalem?.

d) The Levites needed to survive during the sabbatical year. Therefore they got tithes twice during years 3 and 6, especially on year 6.

e) There is no verse in the Old Testament which says (as its primary subject) that the 3rd tithe should be replaced by 1st and/or 2nd tithes during the 3rd and 6th years.

f) Christians do not believe in the Jewish concept of the oral law. Post-exile Jewish Rabbis added a lot of man made laws and interpretations into their lives. Therefore the 39 books of the Old testament is enough to justify that there was a 3rd tithe apart from the first two. We need not rely upon the interpretations of HaRambam and Rashi.

g) Even though Jewish commentators overwhelmingly agree with Maimonides’ interpretation of the 3rd tithe, Abraham Ibn Ezra, a contemporary of Maimonides who was also a great Jewish commentator recognized that the 3rd tithe was distinct from the other two.

Christian Objections To Multiple Tithes:

How did 2.2% of Levites receive tithes from all six years from the rest of the Israelites continuously is a good question.

Here are some thoughts:

a) During their journey to the promised land, the tithing system was not implemented yet.

b) Under the leadership of Joshua - On going wars and they were still settling down.

c) During the period of Judges - Apostasy, idol worship, wars, ad hoc rulers, invasion by surrounding nations.

d) Saul-David-Solomon period:  United Kingdom of Israel, establishment of Jerusalem, Kings intervention in the affairs of people which was not God's perfect will.

e) After Solomon: Divided Kingdom, Jeroboam fired Levites from their positions and appointed mean and evil people as priests, YHWH worship was abolished by Kings like Omri and Ahab, True God worship was rare.  A large number of Levites/Priests and Jews loyal to YHWH  migrated to the southern Kingdom during King Asa's period.  Destruction of the Northern Kingdom

f) Only Southern Kingdom - Godly Kings like Hezekiah and Josiah were able to bring revival to Judah & Benjamin but those effects were destroyed by ungodly Southern Kings like Ahaz, Manasseh and other pre-exile Kings.

g) Babylonian captivity - no tithing at all.

h) Return from exile, never became a sovereign nation until 1947.

In all the above periods mentioned only during the period of Saul, David and Solomon Israelites (all 12 tribes) had the opportunity to practice YHWH's law under a stable political and religious climate.     However that was not God's perfect will either in the 1st place because God wanted to be the ONLY King over all the 12 tribes.  Also the taxes enforced by Kings added spin to the tithing system.  Therefore the ancient Jews never had a perfect opportunity to practice the tithing laws continuously  when all 12 tribes were intact.  Probably during the time of certain Judges they attempted to do that but we have to bear in mind, Jerusalem was not established as God's chosen place then!


1 comment:

Minister Tracey Smith said...

Thank God for teachers of truth like you. May God continue to use and bless you to be a blessing to the Body of Christ, and to win many souls into His kingdom through the word of truth for His praise and glory. JESUS IS LORD.