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The Tithe

by Don Costello  
4/28/2008 / Bible Studies

A. The First Tithe

1. Leviticus 27:30-33 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 if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
And concerning the tithe of the herd, of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

2. Numbers 18:21-24 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 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.
But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

a. This passage establishes that the tithe was to go the the Levites. The Levites then took a tithe from this and gave it to the priests: Numbers 18:25-28.

3. Two New Testament witnesses that further establish a Levitical destination for the tithe are Hebrews 7:5 and 7:9.

a. Hebrews 7:5 "And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law"
b. Hebrews 7:9 "And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes"

B. The Second Tithe

1. Deuteronomy 14:22-27 Thou shall truly all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
And thou shall 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 the 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 thou shall 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 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.

2. Deuteronomy 12:17-19 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

a. This tithe was not to be eaten within my gates, but must be taken to Jerusalem and eaten with my family and the Levite.

C. The Third Tithe

1. Deuteronomy 14:28, 29 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

2. Deuteronomy 26:12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.

a. This tithe was to be eaten within my gates with the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.

b. Louis Goldberg, Professor of Theology and Jewish studies at Moody Bible Institute, wrote in his commentary on Deuteronomy: "Because these tithes were not directly controlled by the priests, Moses gave instructions to avoid their misuse. The Israelites had to make a statement (Deuteronomy 26:13-15), before the LORD that the tithes were used as He had specified."

c. The different directions as to how all these tithes were to be handled, makes the assumption that there is only one tithe unreasonable and illogical.

D. Was there three tithes?

1. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: "Scholars have debated whether there were two tithes or even three. Modern studies hold that all the references are to the same tithe, explaining the differences as arising from the variations in time. The reasoning is that in the time of Deuteronomy (which the critical school dates to the 7th century B.C.), the tithe was used for a festal meal for the family, the poor, and the Levites. In the days of Numbers (which is said to be dated to postexilic times), the tithe was employed soley for the support of the ministry of priests and Levites."

a. Don C.: I reject this explanation because it holds that Moses did not write all of the Pentateuch, but that there are sections of it that were written hundreds of years apart by different authors.

2. Josephus says there was three tithes: Josephus IV. Viii. 22), "Besides those two tithes, which I have already said you are to pay every year, the one for the Levites, the other for the festivals, you are to bring every third year a third tithe to be distributed to those that want; to women also that are widows, and to children that are orphans."

a. NOTE FROM JOSEPHUS: Josephus plain and express interpretation of the law of Moses, that the Jews were bound every third year to pay three tithesis fully confirmed by the practice of good old Tobit.

b. Tobit 1:7, 8 "Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem; a second tenth would I sell, and I would go and spend the proceeds each year at Jerusalem, the third tenth I would give to those to whom it was my duty.

3. Unger's Bible Dictionary: "Maimonides says the third and sixth years' second tithe was shared between the poor and the Levites, i.e. that there was no third tithe."

My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is

I have a blog located at:

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