does the Old Testament say about Giving?
following are some of the key Scriptures that appear in the Old Testament
about giving and tithing:
Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time
Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the
LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of
his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but
on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.
This is actually a good starting point
because it emphasizes that there are obviously two different ways
of bringing things to God because Cain's offering was rejected by
God while Abel's was accepted.
What is intriguing about this is that
at the end of chapter 3 they have been put outside of the Garden and
are separated from God's presence. Even more we are not informed that
God told them to bring these offerings – yet they did.
In trying to distinguish between the
two offerings, there does seem to be a slight sense of casualness
in Cain's offering in the phrase, ‘ some of the fruits'. Nothing
special about that, but when we look at Abel's offering the word ‘some'
is there but the ‘some' refers to the ‘firstborn' of his flock, i.e.
his very first special animal he breeds is given back to God. It implies
that attitude is all-important when it comes to giving.
Melchizedek king of Salem
brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he
blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator
of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your
enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Melchizedek was the king of Jeru
salem and also priest
of God. He is a strange, mysterious character in Scripture, a priest
in the land before the Hebrews (Abram and his descendants) became
the people of God with their own priests.
The writer to the Hebrews takes this
strangeness to identify him as a ‘type' of Jesus who was a priest
by God's choosing but not according to the Law.
Melchizedek thus reveals a twofold ministry:
as king he brings natural provisions, as priest he is more of a Spirit-led
person who brings the spiritual blessing of God on Abram, and as a
result receives gifts from Abram.
No indication is given as to why Abram
gave a tenth. It is either a natural response thing or it may have
been in accordance with local practice. Later God was to warn Israel
that having a king meant he
would take a tenth of what they had (see 1 Sam 815,17). The latter
would have been according to local etiquette (rules of convention),
the former a heart or spirit response. Both are probable.
Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch
over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and
clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then
the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar
will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a
This was Jacob still in bargaining mode,
years before he wrestled with God and surrendered to Him.
In this he is a type of all believers
who try to bargain with God and ‘get him on their side'.
Not a heart response, but an intellectual
Levites & Priesthood
tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or
fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value
to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock--every tenth animal
that passes under the shepherd's rod--will be holy to the LORD.
Thus a tenth of everything that grew
belonged to God
give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel
as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving
at the Tent of Meeting…. They
will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give
to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites
present as an offering to the LORD.
This tithe the Lord passed on to the
Levites to provide for them as they had no property of their own.
It is also to be seen as payment for
them for service with the Tabernacle
LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Levites and say to them: `When
you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance,
you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD's offering.
The Levites in turn were to offer a
tenth back to the Lord
the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's
produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have
no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless
and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied,
and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your
you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the
third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite,
the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your
towns and be satisfied.
The tithe of every three years was also
used to provide for the poor.
Sacrifices & offerings take up considerable
more space in the Law.