Tithing and Biblical Giving-Part 7

In the Mishnah, one of the tractates is called “Terumot” or “heave-offerings with 11 chapters. It explains that there were two types of heave-offerings or gifts to the priests. One was the regular heave-offering, known as the “terumah gedolah” or great heave-offering. The Torah does not say just how much this was, the Sages fixed an amount like this. A generous person gave 1/40th, an average person gave 1/50th and the person with an “evil eye” or stingy person gave 1/60th. If he added to it, it was liable to tithing (ma’asrot). If a person had an agent and was told to seperate terumah, he had to do it according to the mind of the owner. If he didn’t know the owners mind, he did it according the the average person, or 1/50th. This was given to the priest from the fruits of their fields. The other was the “terumot ma’aser” or a tithe heave-offering. The subject of biblical agriculture is a fascinating subject as it relates to the things of God. In the Mishnah, the tractate “Ta’anit” deals with fasting. A public fast is called by the Sanhedrin when there is a drought. No rain means no crops which means no food, so this was a serious issue. The fast was called to repentance because the people were not giving according to what the Lord had prescribed. God expected certain things when it came to tithing and biblical giving in the land. Malachi is a prophet of the return to the land after the Babylonian exile, which came as a result of the neglect of the land. Nehemiah is another book dealing with the return. In Nehemiah, the walls and gates have been breached and burned down, and the enemy is trying to stop the rebuilding. The people have come to clean the rubble away before they can rebuild. It is the same thing today. The gates and the walls of most believers have been breached by the enemy, and destroyed. We are trying to come in and clear out the rubble and rebuild, but the enemy will try and stop it. Today as you learn, it has been our experience that as the rubble is cleared out, the people who are learning will feel the difference. Facial expressions change and the attitude changes, and you start seeing things as never before. Now, read Malachi 1.1 through 4.6 with the information you have on tithing and terumah so far and see if it means more to you. Now, let’s go over various laws and terms that we have not gone over yet. The first is the “revai” and this means the “fourth” or fruit grown in a tree’s fourth year. The fruit from the first three years is prohibited (“uncircumcised”). During the fourth year the fruit has the same laws as the ma’aser sheni (second tithe). The other term is “tevel” which is the produce or products that are liable to the “setting aside” of terumot and ma’asrot from which terumot and ma’asrot have not yet been set aside. Plants that are not fit for human consumption are not set aside for ma’aser or terumot. Things that provide flavor (pepper, spices, etc) are exempt from ma’aser and terumot. Yeshua makes reference to this in Matt 23.23. The people he was talking to were from the School of Shammai. They were very strict. They tithed off of mint, dill and cumin when they didn’t have to. This was going over what was required. Yeshua’s point was that this was not required and they went over and above what they had to do, which was allowed if they wanted to. However, they neglected the weightier measures of the Torah that were required, like justice, mercy and faithfulness. Produce “growing wild” was called “hefker” and this was also exempt from ma’aser and terumah. Produce growing wild or processing in the hands of a non-Jew is exempt. For instance, just because crops are in the hands of an Arab at the sale does not mean it was grown by them. So, at the processing, if the produce is in the hands of a Jew, it is subject to ma’aser and terumot, even if it grew in the possession of a non-Jew. On the other hand, if the produce was in the hand of a Jew, but during the final stage of processing it was in the hands of a non-Jew, it is subject to ma’aser and terumot.
Now, we are going to talk about the setting aside of challah (Num 15.17-21; Neh 10.37-39). There is a certain quantity, about two and a half pounds of grain flour and kneaded at one time. You would set that aside without a blessing. If it is five pounds, it is set aside with a blessing. If there are products that are not baked, like noodles, you can set aside without a blessing even if it is more than five pounds. These are just a few of the laws concerning challah. For more details, go to the Mishnah and the tractate “Challah” which has seven chapters concerning this. This setting aside can be done by the person or his agent, and not by anyone under thirteen years of age. Once you read these laws, you will see that a farmer did not just go out and throw some seeds on the ground. There are all these complex laws to know like ma’aser, terumah, pe’ah, kilayim, demai, the shemitah, challah, orlah and bikurim. You might not know a lot of God’s word, but if you were a farmer, you knew what this was. On top of the farmers, everyone had to know these laws because you were responsible for what you bought. Now, you should have a pretty good idea about tithing and terumah and how it was applied. There is another term to know. The “Bechor’ot” is the first born of animals and the first born sons. This will be reckoned through the mother. So, a man may have several “first born sons” and that can be a problem, ask Jacob who had four. But, he reckoned Joseph as his heir and he was the first born through Rachel. Also, the first of your wool was given and this was tithed. In the Mishnah division “Kodashim” you will find more information on this. We are going to pick up in Part 8 right here and begin to talk about areas dealing with money and we are going to get into massive detail, but hopefully, you are learning more and more about tithing and biblical giving and the concepts associated with this subject. Rebuilding the ancient walls and gates can be hard work, but the end results are worth it.

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

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