Tithing and Biblical Giving-Part 5

Mal 3.8 is a deceptive verse the way it is translated in English. In the Stone Chumash it says “tithes and terumah.” So, what is a terumah? The tithe is the word “ma’aser” and there are three types that are mandatory. First, you have the “ma’aser rishon” which is the first tithe given at Shavuot (Num 18.20-24). Next, there is the “ma’aser sheni” which is the second tithe given at Sukkot (Deut 14.22-28; Deut 26.13-15; Lev 26.27; Lev 19.23-25) . The “ma’aser ani” is the poor man’s tithe (Deut 14.28; 26.12) and it is part of the “pe’ah” which are the corners of the fields, forgotten sheaves, olives and grapes left for the poor (Lev 19.9-10; 23.22; Deut 24.19-22). Not many have heard of this, so we ask the question, “If tithing is so important in churches today, why haven’t people heard of this?” The word “terumot” seen in Mal 3.8 is an offering given to the priest, which is usually a food item given as a gift (Lev 22.1-14; Num 18.8,11-12,26,30). Another term to know is the word “shemitah” and it is the seventh year of a seven year agricultural cycle (Exo 23.10-11; Lev 25.1-7; Deit 15.1-3). We will talk more on that later. Money never entered the picture with tithes and terumot unless you lived to far away from Jerusalem. You then sold your tithe or terumot and went up to Jerusalem. There you bought the produce again. Money only enters into it because it was easier to transport long distances. Another word to know is “demai” and this is a halakic term concerning produce that was doubtfully tithed off of before you bought it. The “kilayim” was mixtures that were prohibited to be mixed together (Lev 19.19; Deut 22.9-11). “Challah” was bread dough left for the priests (Num 15.17-21). The “orlah” was the prohibition of consuming the fruit from any tree younger than three years old (Lev 19.23-25). The word is related to “circumcision” in that it relates to a heaviness that is attached to any living thing. So, a tree that cannot be eaten from is “uncircumcised” in Hebrew. We have already discussed the “bikurim” or first fruits. Christianity is replacement theology. For more information on this, go to our articles called “Replacement Theology” on this site to get a better understanding of where we are coming from on this. We have already established this fact concerning the festivals, doctrines, concepts and other things, and now we are going to deal with it in the area of tithing and biblical giving found in the Scriptures. Knowing this will help you deal with what you may come across on this site, and other sites as well. Tithing, as done in Christianity today, has nothing to do with the terms we have gone over so far, as you can see. Tithing is a way to bring in money and so Christianity wrote new rules. Christian tithing will have nothing to do with one scripture we will deal with on this subject. The whole concept of tithing and biblical giving was replaced by man-made concepts. We are not saying that people shouldn’t give. People have said to us that we should teach the New Testament more. The fact is, we teach it all the time but the concepts and terms we use are not recognized because of Replacement Theology. You cannot interpret the New Testament with the New Testament. You will need to go to the Tanach (Genesis to Malachi) for the foundation. If you take away the foundation, then anyone can interpret the New Testament any way they want. We need to understand tithing and biblical giving for what it is, not what others have redefined it as. There is a tractate in the Mishnah that deals with all of this out of the Order “Zera’im” which means seeds and it deals with agriculture. God set up tithing to be agricultural, and it is not to be confused with biblical giving. Giving is something else entirely. We are defining tithing for what it is. We can’t have another set of meanings for the words the Lord uses and come up with what he is intending us to know. Tithing is not ten percent of your paycheck or income. We are going to look at how these terms were used and understood. We must understand the terms and the context of the giving you read about in the Scriptures. For instance, the “widow’s mite” was what kind of offering? It was a free-will offering. When Ruth was gathering the gleanings (Ruth 2.15), what kind of offering was that by Boaz? It was the ma’aser ani, part of “pe’ah.” Let’s go the Torah about tithing. Num 18.20-24 says, “Then the Lord said to Aaron, ‘You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting. And the sons of Israel shall not come near the tent of meeting again, lest they bear sin and die. Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute through-out your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the Lord, I have given the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.'” In Christianity, there is a concept that the “clergy” today is equal to the Levitical priesthood. It is not. The kohanim (priests) was a hereditary position and you did not earn it, but you could lose it. We don’t mean to attack Christianity, but we do mean to attack Replacement Theology, but many times the two get mixed up because it is such a part of Christianity now. So, the current concept in Christianity is you pay tithes to the clergy, confusing Torah terms to mean something else. You tithed to the Levites and they tithed to the kohanim called “ma’aseh ma’aser” or the “tithe from the tithe.” Here is something we have told people about tithing today. If the clergy wants the people to tithe like an Israelite, why don’t they live like a Levite? That means no portion in the land. Read Num 18.20-24 again. Tithing is a major topic in the Bible. Different types of food come in at different times, so you set aside what came in. The “ma’aser rishon” is the first tithe and you set this aside as it came in. Tithing did not support synagogues. It was taken to the Temple, to the Levites. The Temple was not replaced by the “church” or the Levites by the “clergy.” Levites had detailed records of those in their area who needed the tithe. The records had the names of the widows, the orphans, the disabled and others because that was their responsibility. Then they would divide this up among the needy every third and sixth year, called the “ma’aser ani” or “poor man’s tithe.” Beggers were a different story. They went before a beit din (house of judgment) and they were taken care of through “tzedekah” or charity. This is called “giving to the Lord” but it was for the people. It was “social security, retirement and welfare” all in one. The calendar was a major thing to know back then. The people had to be more conscious of time then today in regards to tithing. The Sanhedrin sent messengers out six times a year to tell the people when the new moon was. The time cycle was very important. In Part 6, we will pick up with the “terumah” and define it and look at some Scriptures that talk about it. We then will go into what a “haver” was in detail and learn more concepts on the subject of tithing and biblical giving.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Questions, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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