Friday, August 31, 2007

Deuteronomy 14:22–29

Deuteronomy 14:22–29: Tithes

Synopsis

This passage gives some rules for tithing; I don’t know if all of these rules are recaps, or if some are new.

  • Each year, the Israelites are to set aside a tenth of all of the produce from their fields. They are to bring it to the place God chooses as “a dwelling for his Name” (verse 23)—that is, the Tabernacle, or the Temple, when it is built—and eat it there, in His presence.
    • Verse 23 says that they are to do this so that they will learn to revere the LORD.
    • If the Tabernacle/Temple is too far away from a particular family, and they’re not able to carry their tithes that distance, they can exchange it for silver (i.e. sell it), go to the Tabernacle/Temple, and then use the silver to buy whatever they like; “cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish” (verse 26).
  • The Levites are not to be neglected, either.
    • Every three years, the Israelites are to bring their tithes to be stored in their towns, for the Levites, the aliens, the orphans, and the widows.
    • Verse 29 says that if they do this, the LORD will bless the Israelites in all the work of their hands.

Thoughts

I don’t have too much to say about this, because it mostly seems pretty straightforward.

I do notice an emphasis on rejoicing, in this passage, which I didn’t pick up on when tithing was talked about in previous books. It seems that the tithes they are bringing to the Tabernacle/Temple are more than just a “gift” for the LORD, they’re a celebration of what the LORD has provided; they’re not just bringing the tithes there and leaving the food on the doorstep, they’re actually eating the food, in what must surely be a pretty good feast. (It is, after all, a tenth of the year’s produce.) Verse 26 specifically says that the Israelites are to eat in the presence of the LORD “and rejoice.”

I don’t remember the rule about bringing their tithes to their towns every three years, so it might be new—or I just might not remember it.

The idea of allowing the Israelites to sell their tithes, so that they could more easily travel to the Temple and re-purchase food to eat in the LORD’s presence, is a good one. (I suppose it’s no great revelation to say that the LORD’s idea is good…) However, as we see in the New Testament, this practice was eventually warped, and the money changers in the Temple started taking advantage of Israelites who lived far away. The human heart is wicked, and even the best laws can be taken advantage of, and corrupted.
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