What is Tithing According to The Bible? (Exposing The Christian Tithe)
Recently, I have received a large amount emails and comments requesting that I write an article explaining what tithes is according to the bible. Many people have shared personal stories with me about how their pastors demand them to pay tithes to the church every Sunday whether they can afford it or not and wanted to know if this was biblical. Hearing these stories reminded me of how I used to feel back when I was a christian; wondering the same question. So I wanted to write an extensive article on this subject to give those who asked as well as everyone else subscribed to this blog, a biblical understanding of tithing.
One of the biggest deceptions about the religion of Christianity is the demand that the local church puts on its members to pay them tithes. By tithes, they mean 10% of all your weekly financial earnings (paper money). For decades now, Christian pastors have been teaching to the people that a tithe is 10% of your paycheck and you should give them to the church every single Sunday – especially in the black church – or you will be cursed by God. However, this form of tithing was not practiced by anyone in the bible at all. It is a christian tithe that was created by the institution of Christianity to benefit the leaders of the Christian church. This is why the only people who benefit from the tithes is the pastors and minsters – not the members.
So if you are a Christian or Believer that has been burdened by the church into giving them 10% of all your income every week and you desire to be free from this bondage, then below are 4 biblical facts on the truth about tithing.
What is a Tithe?
The word tithe is an English word that derived it’s meaning from the Hebrew word מַעֲשֵׂר which is pronounced as Maasar (mah-as-ayr’). The word Maasar is translated as tithe throughout the entire bible and it simply means: a tenth part of. However, the tenth that the word Maasar is referring to is NOT from one’s money; it’s from one’s harvest of the land. As I have written in my last article, the Israelites were an agricultural people and their wealth was based on the amount of land, food and animals they had. So their concept of tithing was to give a tenth of the crops and animals they harvested. Therefore, a true biblical tithe is giving a tenth of your produce – not a tenth of your paper money. To prove this point, let’s go to the bible and look at the first instance of tithing.
The very first mention of tithing in the scriptures is seen in the 14th chapter of Genesis, where Abraham gives a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek. So let’s read that account below:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he (Abram) gave him tithes of all. – Genesis 14:18-20
In the scriptures above, we see Abraham gives a tenth of all that he had to Melchizedek. The question is, what did he tithe?
Well, if you read the entire 14th chapter of Genesis, you will see that a war broke out between 2 teams of Kings and the Kings had plundered Sodom and Gomorrah; taking with them all the spoils of war, which included Abraham’s nephew Lot (who lived in Sodom) and everything Lot owned. When Abraham heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he got together 318 of his trained servants and attacked King Kedorlaomer’s army and recovered all of the war spoils, his nephew lot and lot’s possessions, as well as the other captives. When he got back to the land, Melchizedek was there, and Abraham gave him a tithe of all of the spoils of war. The spoils of war that Abraham gave a tithe of were all of the livestock and produce that came from the LAND of Sodom and Gomorrah.
How do I know this? Because verse 16 tells us so, when it states that: And he (Abram) brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. The goods mentioned in this verse were the spoils of war and is translated from the Hebrew word rekuwsh, which means: personal property, livestock, and possessions. Each of these definitions are in reference to natural resources such as livestock, produce, herbs, oil and wine — not money — because they were the standard spoils of war during that time period. Therefore, Abraham’s tithe was indeed livestock and food.
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord‘s: it is holy unto the Lord… And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. – Leviticus 27:30,32
Who receives the Tithe?
The reason why Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek was because He was the High Priest of YAHUAH (Jehovah). In Hebrew culture, tithes are only authorized by YAH to be given to a High Priest because He represents God on Earth. So Abraham being a Hebrew, tithed to Melchizedek out of respect towards YAH, as this was the custom for all Hebrews.
After Abraham died, his descendants from the children of (Jacob) Israel received YAH’s blessing as being His Holy people and He chose Moses’s brother Aron, to be His High Priest (Exodus 28:1). As a result, all of Aron’s descendants became High Priest as well. Both Moses and Aron were Levites, the offspring of Levi, who was the 3rd son of Jacob (Israel). Since YAH chose Aron to be His High Priest, He chose the rest of the Levites that were not from the lineage of Aron, to service Him as well by assisting the Priest in their duties to the nation of Israel (Numbers 3:5-9).
The Levites were given the privilege to represent YAH alongside the priest because they were chosen as His first born son and in Hebrew culture, the first born gets the blessing (Numbers 3:12-13). Reuben, who was the real first born son of Jacob was supposed to receive the blessing, but because they and all of the rest of the tribes disrespected God by creating a golden calf and worshipping it; YAH chose the Levites to be his representatives because they were the only tribe who repented and returned back to Him (Exodus 32:1-29). Therefore, the Levites were the only people authorized by YAH to receive tithes.
The reason why YAH ordained the Levitcal Priests to receive the tithes and no one else, is because they were the only tribe who did not inherit any land (Numbers 18:20). All the other tribes of Israel received their own portion of land for their families to live on and live from, except the Levites. Therefore, the Levites had no way of taking care of themselves. The reason why YAH did not give them any land is because He wanted the Levites to be in charge of taking care of the tabernacle and the people; bearing their iniquities, performing their judgements, and being the mediator of the covenant between them and YAH. Therefore, since the Levites were in charge of taking care of the 11 tribes, YAH made the 11 tribes responsible for taking care of the Levites.
“And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.” – Numbers 18:20-23
The other 11 tribes of Israel were responsible for giving a tenth portion of all of their harvest of produce and livestock to the Levites, so that they could take care of themselves and their families. Then, the Levites were supposed to take a tenth portion of the tithe they received from their brothers, and give it to the High Priests (Numbers 18: 26-28). After receiving the tithes, The job of the Priest was to place the tithes and offerings in a storehouse so that the widows, fatherless, poor people, and foreigners living in Israel would have food to eat every year. If the Priest did not do this, the nation would not be able to take care of the needy and it would make YAH look bad as a provider. As a result, YAH would view the Priest as being robbers and curse them for stealing the tithes and offerings from the people. This is what the famous Malichi 3:8 verse is about. YAH was condemning the Priest, not the people.
Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! – Malachi 3:8-9
When is the Tithes given?
The tithes that the Priests were supposed to store up for the poor and the needy was given at a different time than the one they received from the Levites. It’s important to know that there were 3 different types of tithes that YAH commanded the Israelites to give and they all were to be given at different, but specific times. I will break those down for you below:
The First Tithe: consisted of one tenth of five grains: wine, olive oil, fruit, and cattle and was given to the Levites (Leviticus 27:30-33). The 11 tribes would take this tithe to a Levitical city nearest them and they would give it to the Levites at the first of the year. This was done on years 1- 6, but not on year 7. On the seventh year, the land and the people were to rest. Then they continued doing it the next 6 years straight.
You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. – Exodus 23:11
The Second Tithe: consisted of one tenth of the same grains from the first tithe and was brought directly to the temple during the years 1,2,4, and 5 on the annual feast days. It was for the people to have a party and consume the food and drinks in praise of YAH. You were able to eat and drink the tithe as much as you wanted; even strong drink was allowed because it was a celebration.
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose:And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. – Deuteronomy 14:22-27
The Third Tithe: consisted of one tenth of the same grains from the first tithe and was given to the poor, which included the widows, fatherless, foreigners and Levites. It was dropped off at the nearest Levitical city to be stored up so that the poor people of Israel could have food to eat. This tithe was only required to be given on years 3 and 6; meaning every 3rd year of a 7 year cycle.
When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithe of thine increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be satisfied, then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God: ‘I have put away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Thy commandment which Thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them. – Deuteronomy 16:12-13
All of the tithes were given once per year and was given to those who YAH commanded them to be given to, at the time he commanded them to be given. The purpose of these tithes was to make sure that everybody had food to eat, especially on YAH’s feast days. The tithe had nothing to do with paper money, silver, gold or any other financial currency; it was strictly food for people to eat.
But I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it was ordained unto all the people of Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and tenths of increase, with that which was first shorn; and them gave I at the altar to the priests; the children of Aaron. The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem: another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem: And the third I gave unto them to the needy, as Debora my father’s mother had commanded me, because I was left an orphan by my father. – Tobit 1:6-8
Can We Still Tithe Today?
The law of Tithing also continued during the time of Yahusha. We know this because Yahusha condemned the Pharisees for thinking they were righteous for tithing, while they were misleading the people in the laws of YAH concerning spiritual matters. You can read that account below:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay tithes of mint, dill, and cummin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. – Matthew 23:23
The law of tithing was in full effect during the time of Yahusha because the Levites were still the High Priests. However, after Yahusha died, so did the requirement to tithe. Why? Because Yahusha replaced the Levitical priesthood and became our High Priest when He rose from the dead (Hebrews 7:1-10). After His resurrection, there was a change of the priesthood from the Levites to Yahusha. Therefore, since Yahusha is now our High Priest instead of the Levites, it would be impossible for us to pay tithes because there is no one to receive them. This is why tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament after the death of Yahusha because it became obsolete when He took over the preisthood.
Even if we wanted to tithe today, we couldn’t because we don’t know of any Levites to give the tithe to. Remember, after YAH made a covenant with the children of Israel and chose the Levites to be his servants and High Priests, only those who descend from the tribe of Levi could receive the tithes. And this tithe could only be given in the land of Israel, where YAH put His name at. Therefore, since our ancestors were exiled from the land of Israel in 70 A.D., and scattered across the 4 corners of the earth in slavery on ships, we can no longer give tithes because we don’t have a land to take them to nor do we know of any Levites to give them to. However, YAH still expects us to give; we just are not required to tithe.
Well How Do We Give Today?
If you do desire to give to YAH, and you most definitely should, you can still do so by giving to those in need. According to scripture, those in need would be considered: the homeless, the poor, the widows, the fatherless, the imprisoned, and YAH’s modern day leaders who devote their lives to proclaiming YAH’s truth. Giving to anyone of those who are in need would be considered a free will offering to YAH and it could be anything that you wish to give because it’s an offering, not a tithe. And you should try your best to give to those in need anytime that you are able to because when you give to the needy, you are really giving to YAH (Matthew 25:24-40).
In regards to giving to assemblies (churches), if you are under someone’s leadership such as an apostle, pastor, prophet or teacher that has devoted their life to guiding you to YAH, then you should try your best to support them in the area of their needs. Remember, the purpose of the tithe was to take care of the Levites economically so that they can continue taking care of the nation of Israel spiritually. Therefore, since tithing is now obsolete, our free will offerings to YAH’s ministers should be given with the same intent; to provide for those who provide for us.
For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Yahusha. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, YAHUAH commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 9:9-14
A great example of this is seen in the book of Acts, where the members of the assembly all freely gave of what they had – money and resources – to the apostles; who in return re-distributed their gifts back to the community so that everyone was equal and had everything in common (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-35). This way, both the leaders and the believers were taken care of and there was no one rich and no one poor because they all shared what they had (2 Corinthians 8:13-15). And this was all done with free-will offerings. Therefore, since this is the blueprint of how the first century assemblies gave, then this should be how today assemblies’ give.
So as I stated earlier, if you are under the leadership and authority of someone — whether it be in person or online — who is following Yahusha and devoted their life to feeding you spiritually, then you should make sure support them economically. It’s only right! To continually receive and never give back to who gives to you is not of YAH (1 John 3:17)! But remember, your giving could be anything of value such as food, money, gifts, or time and it can be done at anytime of the year because it’s from your heart, not by command.
The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD. – Exodus 35:29
As you can see from all of the evidence above, the Christian tithe is one of the biggest deceptions of the Christian church. They bring millions of dollars each year from a tithing method that is not even biblical. They do this because the majority of churches today are businesses, not biblical assemblies. This is why they have ATM machines, stores, and employees inside them because they are real businesses; and as a business, the money comes first. Therefore, they demand that you pay them tithes in order to hear the word because they view you as customers instead of fellow brothers and sisters.
For this reason, Yahusha told us that a hired hand cannot be a true Shepard of YAH’s sheep, because the money is the motivation behind what they do, not the love of the people (John 10:11-13). This means that any pastor or teacher who is hired by the system – Christianity – cannot be a shepherd over YAH’s people because they have to operate under a system that is based on greed in order to get paid. This is why they demand their members to pay tithes, not necessarily because they don’t know it’s unbiblical, but because they want to keep their jobs as pastors. They’re in it for the money, not the people.
Anyways, I hope this article has opened your eyes to see the truth about what a tithe is according to the scripture in comparison to the Christian tithe. Feel free to share this article online with friends and family who may have been deceived about paying tithes as well. Shalom.