In this frequently asked question about tithing, we are going to answer: what are the rules of tithing?
So many sermons and articles exist online about the rules for tithing, but nearly all of them seem to place focus on this rule as it concerns the people who tithe.
But in this frequently asked question about tithing, I am also going to place my focus on the rules of tithing as it concerns both those who tithe, as well as those who receive the tithes.
But before we go into this sermon proper, let us first and foremost get an understanding of the definition of both rules and tithes.
Definition of rules.
According to the Merriam-webster dictionary, the rule is severally defined as:
- a: Rule is a prescribed guide for conduct or action.
- b: the laws or regulations prescribed by the founder of a religious order for observance by its members.
- c: an accepted procedure, custom, or habit.
- d(1): a usually written order or direction made by a court regulating court practice or the action of parties. etc.
So we can now perfectly understand that the rule of tithing means a guide for conduct or action that involves tithing.
What is tithe according to the bible?
According to the origin of tithing in the bible, as recorded in Genesis 14:17-20, the tithe is a tenth of the spoils recovered from war, paid by Abram to Melchizedek.
According to the story, Abraham’s nephew, Lot was living in Sodom during the time that 4 kings invaded the country.
He and all his properties, including his wife were taken captives by the 4 kings.
When the story of what happened got to Abram, he inforced his men and went to war with the 4 kings; where he succeeded in defeating them and recovering all the things they took from Sodom and Gomorrah, including his nephew, Lot.
On return from the war, Abraham met Melchizedek, a king of Salem and priest of the most high God; who gave him bread and wine and blessed him.
After the gifts and blessings, Abraham gave a tenth of all he recovered from the war to Melchizedek. And it is this tenth that we understand as tithes in the modern era.
Later in the Jewish religion, tithes became a tenth of the following:
- What the fields produced as we can see in Deuteronomy 14:22.
- Grain, wine, and coin as we can see in Nehemiah 13:11-12.
- Ox and sheep as we can see in Leviticus 27:30-34.
The rule of tithing in the bible.
Having studied all the verses about tithes in the holy bible; I have been able to confirm the following as the rules of tithing:
- Tithes were eaten yearly by the worshipper and his family in the presence of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26)
- In the third year of tithing, the tithes were given to the Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows. (Deuteronomy 14:27-29)
- The Levites who received the tithes were to also pay their tithes to the priests. (Numbers 18:25-29)
- The Levites who received tithes were forbidden from having inheritance. (Numbers 18:21-24)
Now let’s outline the above bible passages and look into the above points one after the other.
1. Tithes were eaten yearly by the worshipper and his family in the presence of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26).
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.
But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose.
Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.
As we can clearly see from the above passage; tithes were to be gathered on the first year of the Jewish harvest and eaten in the presence of the Lord.
In the case where the temple is far from their homes; they were to sell the tithes, and use the money to purchase the same thing when they get to the temple.
2. In the third year of tithing, the tithes were given to the Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
The second rule of tithing as we can see above states that tithes should be paid to 4 persons:
This is because these people did not have properties or inheritance in the land of Israel.
The Levites who received the tithes were to also pay their tithes to the priests. (Numbers 18:25-29).
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.
Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress.
In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites.
From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’
As we can see from the above scripture; the Levites who received tithes from the Israelites were to pay tithes from it to the priest.
4. The Levites who received tithes were forbidden from having inheritance. (Numbers 18:21-24)
“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.
From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die.
It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites.
Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”
As we can see from the above bible passage; the Levites who received tithes were forbidden to have an inheritance.
Inheritance in this context simply means landed properties and houses.