Tithing and Biblical Giving-Part 6

The Terumah is mentioned in Mal 3.8 when it says “tithes and offerings (Terumah). We have given the basic definition of what this is and it is mentioned many times in the Tanach. In Num 15.19-20; 18.8, 11, 19, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 and it is mentioned and in Lev 22.12, just for examples. There were two types of Terumah. First there was the “Terumah Gedolah” which was a heave offering given directly to the kohen (priest) who is in a state of ritual purity and it is not tithed, consisting of the best produce. This was 1/60th of your crop (if you were stingy) and given in years 1-6 of the Shemitah. Next there was the “Terumah Ma’aser” which is 1/10th of the Ma’aser Rishon (first tithe). It is called the Levitical tithe because it is given by the Levites to the priests during the first six years of a Shemitah. Now, let’s say you are an Israelite and you raised crops. You would have to keep track of the Ma’aser Rishon (first tithe during years 1-6 of the Shemitah); the Ma’aser Sheni (the second tithe during years 1,2,4,5 of the Shemitah; the Ma’aser Ani (poor man’s tithe in the 3rd and 6th year of the Shemitah; the Terumah; the Pe’ah (corners); Demai, meaning if you bought something like flour, you would have to know if it was tithed off of. If it wasn’t, then you did; Challah; Kilayim; Orlah; Bikurim and the Shemitah years. A person who is uneducated in Torah was called an “Am ha Eretz” or “people of the land.” The talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua were called this (Acts 4.13). A person who is trained in all these laws was called a “chaver” which means a “friend or associate.” It comes from the idea of a court or circle. You registered at a beit din (court). A “chavurah” was a fellowship that is registered as knowledgeable in tithing and other laws. If you bought food from one of them you knew that it was tithed off of. However, if you bought from a “am ha eretz” you were responsible to tithe off of it. These rulings get relaxed at festival times due to the throngs. Merchants who sold food had to tithe off of it. If you lived outside the land of Israel, there was no responsibility on your part to tithe. That doesn’t mean he didn’t practice biblical giving. The Torah was not meant to be read like a novel, it is meant to be read like a contract. The words in Hebrew are important. You have to pay attention to the details of the words because the message and concepts are there, like a lawyer would do with their law books. So, you must build your vocabulary. This system must work exactly the way God set it up, within its framework. It has to work a certain way without changing it. What we are doing is trying to clear away all the spiritual “rubble” of all the years of false teaching concerning tithing and biblical giving and start to build again. Then we can lay the foundation of what these verses are trying to say. Once that is understood, then progress to all the different types of giving, when to do it, how to do it and what was done in the land and outside the land. So, we are trying to get the terms and definitions out first, then develop them. Hopefully, you are beginning to understand some things that the Lord was saying about tithing, terumah and tzedekah. You will see it comes up all over the Scriptures and in many places you never noticed. Deut 4.2 says that we are not to add to or detract from the Scriptures. You must know what the Hebrew words mean, then when you come across them you won’t be confused. Don’t trust your English translations alone. Whenever this is taught, there is a concern that people will say, “I don’t have to tithe” so they quit giving. The truth is, you don’t have to tithe, but you need to understand these terms and people will get angry with you if you try to explain these things (usually people who make their living off of people giving to their organizations). To keep up with all of this is a full-time job. You are going to have to think about the Lord all the time. The commandments were meant to do that because the Torah was a law book for Israel, just like in legal libraries today. If you broke those laws there were penalties, like no rain. Yes, the Torah is teaching and instruction, but it is more than that. On a personal level, if you failed to tithe, you paid it back, plus 20% as compensation. Now, let’s go back to Mal 3.8 and Neh 10.37-39 where these terms are used. In Mal 3.8 we have tithes and terumot. In Neh 10.37 we have “first of our dough” which is the “challah” previously mentioned. Then it says “contributions” which are the terumot. Later in the verse the tithe (ma’aser) is mentioned and how it is given to the Levites and these concepts are developed out in verses 38-39. The “Terumah” is a specific type of offering. A key to understanding the Scriptures is defining the Scriptures according to their Hebrew meanings. What is a Terumah offering? It is approximately 1/50th of a crop that is given to a kohen (priest) directly. They may not be eaten by a non-kohen (priest) because he is a layman. The members of a kohen (priest) household, including his wife and non-Jewish servants are permitted to eat the Terumah. A Jewish “slave” is not his owners “property” because he is like an indentured servant who is obligated to serve for an agreed time, but not be owned by his master. Therefore, he is not permitted to eat the Terumah (The Stone Chumash-Lev 22.1-14; Num 18.8, 11-12, 28,30; Deut 18.4). Remember there are two types of Terumah, the Terumah Gedolah and the Terumah Ma’aser. Knowing these terms will help you interpret verses like Mal 3.8 and Neh 10. 37-39 correctly. In the Mishnah, in the division called “Zeraim” (seeds) there are 11 tractates and these will deal with these subjects. In Genesis 14.20 we read that Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils of war to Melchi-Zedek. When armies invaded a city, they came for the food, livestock, clothes and other things that were tithed off of. Abraham’s war spoils were probably the above list and he gave a tenth of that to a priest (kohen) of the Most High. Abraham was not a farmer, he was not a nomad. He was a shepherd and he moved around from pasture to pasture. Isaac was the same, and Jacob moved to Egypt. It was not an “agricultural society” with Israel until they settle in the land. So, that is why he gives the Torah before they settle in the land. It sets them up for tithing once they are in the land. So, it wasn’t a factor until then and the whole face of the nation changes. Abraham was not under the Law of Moses because it wasn’t given yet, but to give a percentage of your goods was a well known concept and practiced before the Torah was ever given. In Part 7, we will pick up here with the Terumah in the Mishanh and discuss these. Then we will move into the different types of tithing in a little more detail.

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

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