"The Meat of the Word" Series
Tithing the Biblical Way
Giving Tribute to the One Who Provides All
By David M Rogers
Published: November 2017
Table of Contents
Among the most talked about subjects from the pulpits of Christian churches is the topic of giving. Nothing like it causes such squirming and fidgeting in the pews. And that among the adults! Why does the preacher go on and on about this? We get it. The business of the assembly requires funding. Enough is enough. And yet, the Christian pastors and preachers can't explain why we should tithe since the temple services are ended.
But know this: tithing is biblical. And tithing is for New Testament believers in Yahusha (Jesus or Yeshua)Messiah! Tithing is the teaching from Scripture that one who is in covenant relationship with the Almighty must give to Yehovah a tenth of their increase. From a New Testament Christian perspective, tithing is presented as the responsibility for believers in Jesus to give a tenth of their income to their church.
So it is that tithing is the primary means of financial support for the ministry of the local church. Thus, it is a lucrative subject matter for pastors. Ironically, for all the talk in the Christian churches about Jesus abolishing the Law of Moses, this doesn't stop preachers from insisting that tithing is one of those things that Jesus didn't abolish. They don't have any good explanation for this, but preaching on tithing is self serving for them. Don't you think it is hypocritical for them to suggest to Christians that they must tithe but that they don't have any obligation to keep any of the other laws laid out in the Torah (books of Moses)? They say its all about grace.
The problem Hebraic roots groups and Messianics have with tithing is that the Torah strictly instructs Israel to tithe to the priests and the tribe of Levi, exclusively. But there are no Levitical priests in operation today nor a temple nor a tent of Meeting where Yehovah dwells and is ministered to. So does this let Torah observant followers of Yahusha off the hook for the tithing mandate?
Our objective in this study article on tithing is to trace out tithing through the Scriptures to better understand what Elohim has in mind when he gave the command to tithe. As we gain understanding about the tithe, including why, where, when, how, what and to whom the tithe is given, we should be able to better discern how we may apply the tithing instructions in an environment where Messiah Yahusha is King and High Priest and the kingdom of heaven principles are in operation and are being applied.
The manner in which we will cover this study of tithing will be to follow the order of the passages which speak of tithing and discuss the details given. The "first occurance" principle is extremely helpful to us as we attempt to understand all the details revealed in Scripture about giving. This first occurance and the second will lay out a foundation for tithing which the rest of the instructions will fill in with detail. By tackling this subject in order, we can most effectively avoid prejudicial treatment and just let the Bible tell us what Yahuwah wants us to know about tithing. We don't want to jump to conclusions on this issue of tithing or influence our interpretation based on the baggage of denominational bias and theological presuppositions and inputs. By taking the passages in their general order they were written in Scriptures, we can see the unfolding of instruction and get a more accurate sense of things as our Father in heaven would have us to know.
Bereshith 14:18-20 - Abram Gave the Tithe to Melchizedek
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest
of Elohim Most High, and he blessed Avram, saying, "Blessed be Avram by
Elohim Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be
Elohim Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then
gave him a tenth of everything.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of Elohim Most High, and he blessed Avram, saying, "Blessed be Avram by Elohim Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be Elohim Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then he gave him a tenth of everything.
The first mention of tithing in the Bible is long before the Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. So in its first expression, tithing is not linked to Mosaic Law. This is profoundly important when it comes to assessing the merits of tithing in a time when Levitical priests are not ministering in the set apart place. The ramifications of this first mention principle about tithing are wide reaching. We will go into great detail of these things later on in this study.
Everyone knows the story about the fighting of the five kings against the four kings. Avram's nephew Lot and his whole household had been captured by Kedorlaomer and his allies. They had taken the plunder of many cities with them to a place north of Damascus. There, Avram and his 318 trained household men met Kedorlaomer and defeated him there, recovering Lot, his possessions and all the goods that had been plundered. On Avram's return, the king of Salem went out to meet him.
This is where we pick up the narrative as cited above. Melchizedek came out with bread and wine to greet Avram. And the priest of Salem blessed Avram and the Elohim of Avram. Avram's response to this blessing was to give a tenth of all the plunder to priest Melchizedek. And thus, tithing is introduced by the Scriptures.
But Avram gave this tithe to a priest who was not of the Levitical line of priests. The writer of Hebrews describes this in a way that gets our attention.
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of Elohim Most High. He met Avraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Avraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of Elohim he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Avraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the Torah requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-- that is, their brothers-- even though their brothers are descended from Avraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Avraham and blessed him who had the promises.
And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Avraham, because when Melchizedek met Avraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. (Hebrews 7:1-10)
The superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek over that of Levi is indicated by four things. First, the Melchizedek received the first tithe mentioned in Scripture. Second, Melchizedek came before Levi and thus by order is more important. Third, since the lesser is blessed by the greater, Avraham the lesser person (and Levi who came from him) was blessed by the greater Melchizedek. And fourth, Levi actually paid the tithe to Melchizedek while still in the loins of his ancestor.
The first mention principle in interpreting Scripture is well established. Typically, any important subject matter must be understood and interpreted using its first mention as a building block or foundation for its usage and interpretation in subsequent mentions. So, this first mention of the tithe must be examined for its forensic value in understanding the reason for and the importance of tithing elsewhere in the Holy Writings.
The Melkizedek, who was the Priest of the Most High Elohim, received the tithe from Abraham, whose purpose in giving the tithe was an expression of thanksgiving to Yahuwah for the victory Yah gave him over his enemies and the saving of his relatives lives. So, the Melkizedek received the tithe because he was Elohim's anointed representative and intercessor between Elohim and man, in his day. The superiority of Melkizedek is underlined by the fact that Lewi paid Melkizedek the tithe while he was still in the loins of his great grandfather Abraham.
The writer to the Hebrews furthermore points out that the lessor individual is blessed by the greater. Melkizedek blessed Abraham, not the other way around. Thus Melkizedek was greater than Abraham, who contained Lewi in his body. So, by extension, the order of Melkizedek was greater than the order of Levi. And the priesthood of Melkizedek was superior to the priesthood of Lewi.
Why is it important that the Melchizedekian order is greater than the Lewitical order? Primarily because the Melchizedek High Priest - Yahusha - is in operation today while the Lewitical order is not. So the one priesthood, that of Aharon from the tribe of Lewi, has ceased to function while the priesthood of Melchizedek is still functioning actively on behalf of Israel.
In summary, the first mention of tithing indicates that Avram tithed to Yahuwah by giving a tenth of his increase to the mediator High Priest in operation in his day.
Bereshith 28:20-22 -
Ya'acov's Vow to Tithe
Then Ya'acov made a vow, saying, "If Elohim will be with me and will
watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat
and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then
Yahuwah will be my Elohim and this stone that I have set up as a pillar
will be Elohim's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a
Then Ya'acov made a vow, saying, "If Elohim will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then Yahuwah will be my Elohim and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be Elohim's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
The second occurrence of tithing in the Bible is a prophetic indicator for the future understanding of the tithing priciple.
comes in Genesis 28 where Jacob
Shemot 23:15-17 - The
Time of Tithing
"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made
without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the
month of the Aviv, for in that month you came out of Mitzrayim. "No one
is to appear before me empty-handed. "Celebrate the Feast of
Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.
"Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you
gather in your crops from the field. "Three times a year all the
men are to appear before Adonai Yahuwah. (Shemot 23:15-17)
"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of the Aviv, for in that month you came out of Mitzrayim. "No one is to appear before me empty-handed. "Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. "Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. "Three times a year all the men are to appear before Adonai Yahuwah. (Shemot 23:15-17)
The priests, who are Levites-- indeed the whole tribe of Levi-- are to have no allotment or inheritance with Yisrael. They shall live on the offerings made to Yahuwah by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; Yahuwah is their inheritance, as he promised them. This is the share due the priests from the people who sacrifice a bull or a sheep: the shoulder, the jowls and the inner parts. You are to give them the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep, for Yahuwah your Elohim has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in Yahuwah's name always.
"'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to Yahuwah; it is holy to Yahuwah. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock-- every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod-- will be holy to Yahuwah. He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.'"
"Speak to the Lewites and say to them: 'When you receive from the sons
of Yisrael the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a
tenth of that tithe as Yahuwah's offering.
You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of Yahuwah your Elohim at the place Yahuwah your Elohim will choose-- you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns-- and you are to rejoice before Yahuwah your Elohim in everything you put your hand to.
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of Yahuwah your Elohim at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere Yahuwah your Elohim always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by Yahuwah your Elohim and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where Yahuwah 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 Yahuwah your Elohim 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 Yahuwah your Elohim and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 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 aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that Yahuwah your Elohim may bless you in all the work of your hands.
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. Then say to Yahuwah your Elohim: "I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them. I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed Yahuwah my Elohim; I have done everything you commanded me. Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Yisrael and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey."
He ordered the people living in Yerushalayim to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of Yahuwah. As soon as the order went out, the sons of Yisrael generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Yisrael and Yehudah who lived in the towns of Yehudah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to Yahuwah their Elohim, and they piled them in heaps. They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised Yahuwah and blessed his people Yisrael.
"We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of Yahuwah each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree. "As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our Elohim, to the priests ministering there. "Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our Elohim, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our [grain] offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. A priest descended from Aharon is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our Elohim, to the storerooms of the treasury. The people of Yisrael, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and oil to the storerooms where the articles for the sanctuary are kept and where the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the singers stay. "We will not neglect the house of our Elohim."
"Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-- the whole nation of you-- because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says Yahuwah Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says Yahuwah Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says Yahuwah Almighty.
David. A psalm. Yahuwah says to my master: "Sit at my right hand until I
make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent
them in matters related to Elohim, to offer gifts and sacrifices for
When all is said and done, the questions remain: Do followers of Messiah Yehoshua have to tithe? And if so, then to whom? Doesn't the Torah teach that tithe is only to go to the Lewites?