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tithe

a tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart for special purposes

The dedication of a tenth to God was recognized as a duty before the time of Moses. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20; Hebrews 7:6); and Jacob vowed unto the Lord and said, “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

The first Mosaic law on this subject is recorded in Lev. 27:30-32. Subsequent legislation regulated the destination of the tithes (Num. 18:21-24, 26-28; Deut. 12:5,6, 11, 14:22-23).

The paying of the tithes was an important part of the Jewish religious worship. In the days of Hezekiah one of the first results of the reformation of religion was the eagerness with which the people brought in their tithes (2 Chr. 31:5,6). The neglect of this duty was sternly rebuked by the prophets (Amos 4:4; Mal. 3:8-10).

It cannot be affirmed that the Old Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian Church, nevertheless the principle of this law remains, and is incorporated in the gospel (1 Cor. 9:13-14); and if, as is the case, the motive that ought to prompt to liberality in the cause of religion and of the service of God be greater now than in Old Testament times, then Christians ought to go beyond the ancient Hebrew in consecrating both themselves and their substance to God.

Every Jew was required by the Levitical law to pay three tithes of his property (1) one tithe for the Levites; (2) one for the use of the temple and the great feasts; and (3) one for the poor of the land.

Author: Matthew G. Easton.

Although tithing was not made a part of the ten commandments, it had been practiced as an implicit responsibility toward God since the time of Abraham (Genesis 14:20; Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 12:5-18; 14:22-29; 26:12-15). More than one tithe was evidently expected of the ancient Israelites at certain times. At that time the theocratic government was also the civil government, so the tithes probably also included taxes.

The practice of tithing is never commanded in the New Testament church although the principle of proportionate giving is strongly suggested (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) and generosity is strongly commended (2 Corinthians 9:5-15). In general, most Christians can and should give substantially more than a tithe for the Lord's work, but circumstances vary. God is probably less concerned with how much we give as a measure of our love for Him and His work than with what we keep and spend on ourselves.

Author: Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defender's Study Bible (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Publishing, 1995), note for Lev 27:30.

[See: Tithing—Tips for New and Growing Christians]