In the latter part of Deuteronomy chapter fourteen, Moses gave the Children of Israel instructions on tithing. In our Bibles, the word “tithe” is an Old English term for a tenth. The Hebrew word ‘asar‘asar ‘asar, (tithe tithe) emphasizing that the Israelites were to give a tenth to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:22)
These instructions were directed at a future time when the Israelites would live in the Promised Land. They were instructed to bring their tithe to the place the Lord would choose to place His name. If that place was too far, they were to sell the items to be offered and instead bring the money to the “place,” which we now know was the City of David, and to have a feast before the Lord in celebration of His wonderful blessings. (Deuteronomy 14:23)
They were to have whatever their hearts desired in the way of food and drink. (Deuteronomy 14:26) This included wine and strong drink! The Hebrew word for wine, yayin (Strong’s H3196) is based on a root that means to effervesce or to ferment. The word for strong drink shakar (Strong’s 7941) is from the Hebrew word used to describe the drunkenness of Noah. (Genesis 9:21) This is interesting, but is not the subject I wish to address.
In Deuteronomy 14:28-29, the Israelites were also instructed to set aside their tithe in their own town every third year. This tithe was to be given to the Levites, who were given no land inheritance, and for widows, orphans and foreigners “within their gates.” The esteemed Matthew Henry, in his Bible commentary, believes that this indicates there were to be two tithes given; one at the Temple, and one locally every third year.
I do not know if Brother Henry’s opinion is correct or not, but I do question it based on logic.
The tithes were largely in support of the Levites, who assisted the priests. I will repeat as the Bible repeats; they were given no land inheritance. The Levites in turn gave a tithe to the priests. This is how they ate. The feast described in Deuteronomy 14:22-27 cannot be all of the individual’s tithe. Suppose you have a full-time job paying ten dollars an hour. That totals about twenty-thousand dollars a year, and your tithe would be two-thousand dollars. I think it would difficult and highly unusual for you and your family to eat two-thousand dollars worth of food in one sitting.
The feast was to be a celebration, and was not to be the entire amount tithed to the Temple. I believe the tithe to be gathered and stored locally every three years was to be part of the greater tithe in the Lord’s plan. It was to take care of local needs, including the local Levites. Therefore, in my opinion, the feast and the local tithe are all part of the tithe the Lord required of the Children of Israel. In my opinion, there was to be no second tithe.
Let me emphasize that I do believe in the importance of tithing. Giving to the Lord’s work is not limited to ten percent. Tithing is important to the Lord’s ministry here and now, and it results in blessings to the giver. Please see Luke 6:38, especially the last sentence.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”Praise the Lord for His wonderful provision to us!