Deuteronomy 14:22-29: Tithing

Verse 22:  (Lev. 27:30; Deut. 12:6, 17; Neh. 10:37) Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

[The tithe…thou shalt separate…(verse 23) and thou shalt eat, etc.]  Objection:  But the tithes belonged to the Levites.  Response:  The tithes among the Jews were threefold, beyond those which the Levites were paying to the priests.[1]  1.  Those sacred and universal, which belonged to the Levites.[2]  2.  Other annual tithes gathered out of the remaining nine parts of the fruits.[3]  3.  The tithes of the third year, separated also in the third year for the use of the Levites, the poor, etc. (Gerhard, Lapide, Oleaster).  Some explain this of the second tithe (thus Grotius).  This is δευτεροδεκάτη, the second tithe, of which a feast was made at the Temple, as also of the first-fruits, Exodus 23:19; 34:26 (Grotius, thus Lapide, Oleaster, Gerhard).  But this response has foundation neither in Scripture nor in the custom of the Jews (Menochius).  This second tithe is expressly enacted in the law, Leviticus 27:30 and Deuteronomy 14:22.  And it is clearly distinguished from the first tithe, inasmuch as the first was able to be consumed outside of the city, but this tithe only within the confines of the Temple, for which reason it was also to be brought to Jerusalem.  This is also proven out of Tobit 1:7, the second tithe I sold, and I went, and spent it in Jerusalem (Scaliger[4] and Amama[5] on Deuteronomy 26:12).  Josephus also confirms this in Antiquities of the Jews 4:8 (Amama).  And, when that second tithe was parceled out, the Hebrews gathered out of the law in Leviticus 27:31 that a fifth part of the tithe was yet wont to be added; so that what was in appearances ten of a hundred was in adoration twelve (Scaliger and Amama on Deuteronomy 26:12).  By these second tithes provision was made for those who according to the Law were gathering for the appointed feasts unto the place chosen by God (Junius).  The tithes given to the priests it was lawful to eat in any place; Numbers 18:31.  This second tithe it was lawful to eat only in Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 14:23 (Ainsworth).  Others understand this of the tithes of the third year.  Thus Ainsworth [who confounds the second and third tithes].  The owners were eating that second tithe in the first and second year; in the third year they were separating it for the Levites and the poor (Ainsworth).  This tithe of the third and sixth years of the hebdomad of years succeeded into the place of the second tithe (Grotius on verse 29).  They give the tithe of the poor in the third year, in the place of the second tithe (Fagius out of the Hebrews).  Others think that these tithes were distinct (thus Lapide, Oleaster).  This is evident from a comparison with verse 28 (Lapide).  [Others otherwise:]  He does not say, thou shalt eat the tithe, but, other things which thou shalt bring (certain interpreters in Oleaster).  For with the tithe they were obliged to bring some voluntary gift, Exodus 23:15.  That was the peace-offering, a part of which was yielded to the offerer.  Of this peace-offering I understand this (Menochius).  Concerning these things see what things are on Leviticus 19:24 and Deuteronomy 12:17 (Bonfrerius).  Others maintain that these tithes were voluntary, not prescribed (Cajetan in Oleaster, certain interpreters in Malvenda); and that it was not properly a tithe, although it was thus called (certain interpreters in Malvenda).

Tithe:  This is to be understood of the second tithes, which seem to be the same with the tithes of the third year, mentioned here below, verse 28; Deuteronomy 26:12, on which see above, on Deuteronomy 12:17.  And to confirm this opinion, (though I would not lay too great a stress upon criticisms,) yet I cannot but observe that this tithing is spoken of only as the people’s act here, and Deuteronomy 26:12, and the Levites are not at all mentioned in either place as receivers or takers of them, but only as partakers of them together with the owners, and therefore they are so severely charged here upon their consciences, thou shalt truly tithe all thine increase, because the execution of this was left wholly to themselves, whereas the first tithes were received by the Levites, who therefore are said to take or receive those tithes, Numbers 18:26; Nehemiah 10:38; Hebrews 7:5.

[Of the fruits which are produced in the land, הַיֹּצֵ֥א הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה]  The product of the field (Septuagint); which comes forth in the field (Junius and Tremellius), or, from the field (Samaritan Text, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Chaldean).

 

Verse 23:  (Deut. 12:5-7, 17, 18) And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and (Deut. 15:19, 20) the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.

[The firstlings]  Nearly the same doubt occurs concerning the firstlings which belong to the Lord.  Responses:  1.  Of the firstlings sacrificed to God the offerers were also eating.  See what things are on Numbers 18 (Oleaster, similarly Ainsworth).  2.  To others, the principal, the excellent, the best animals besides the firstlings are here called firstlings (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Concerning these things see on Deuteronomy 12:17 (Bonfrerius).

Thou shalt eat before the Lord, etc.:  See on Deuteronomy 12:6, 17.

[That thou mayest learn to fear]  Eat ye in Jerusalem, so that by this occasion ye might hear the Priests and Judges teaching the fear of the Lord (Fagius out of Nahmanides[6] and Chizkuni, thus Oleaster).  Likewise, so that they, knowing that they are going to be often appearing before their Lord, might fear to be punished by Him, if they be evil (Oleaster).

 

Verse 24:  And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or (Deut. 12:21) if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee…

[And thou art not able to carry]  Hebrew:  to bear it,[7] namely, the tenth (Vatablus, Malvenda).  It is added in Hebrew, because He blessed thee;[8] that is to say, because thou art abounding in tithes through the blessing of God and art enriched, to such an extent that it is difficult to carry them on such a journey (Junius).

 

Verse 25:  Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose…

[Thou shalt sell, understanding, those tithes (Vatablus), וְנָתַתָּ֖ה בַּכָּ֑סֶף]  And thou shalt give (thou shalt sell [Septuagint, Chaldean, Arabic, Syriac]; thou shalt exchange [Samaritan Text, Junius and Tremellius]) in silver, or money (Montanus, Samaritan Text, Junius and Tremellius).

[And according to the price thou shalt render, וְצַרְתָּ[9]And thou shalt gather (Vatablus, Malvenda) (thou shalt confine [Malvenda]), that is, the money, tied into a little bundle, thou shalt put in thy hand (Vatablus).  Perhaps for this purpose, that they might be reminded of the reason for the journey.  Hence the tradition arose that this money was not be to mixed with profane money (Fagius).

Bind up the money in thine hand, i.e. in a bag to be taken into thy hand and carried with thee.

 

Verse 26:  And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth (Heb. asketh of thee[10]):  (Deut. 12:7, 18; 26:11) and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household…

[And thou shalt buy]  With that money they bought those things that they would offer to the Lord, and those things that they would eat.  See John 2 (Vatablus).  The law was that the money from the parceled out Tithe was kept for the next solemn feast, to be brought to Jerusalem (Fagius).

[And thou shalt feast]  That is, thou shalt feast with joy (Vatablus).  There is no joy without flesh, say the Talmudists (Grotius out of Fagius).  By which they wished to signify that there is no true joy that is not made with the Lord (Fagius).

 

Verse 27:  And (Deut. 12:12, 18, 19) the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for (Num. 18:20; Deut. 18:1, 2) he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

Thou shalt not forsake him; thou shalt give him a share in such tithes, or in the product of them.

 

Verse 28:  (Deut. 26:12; Amos 4:4) At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates…

[In the third year, מִקְצֵ֣ה׀ שָׁלֹ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֗ים]  At the end of three years (Vatablus, Oleaster, Pagnine), that is, in the third year, as it is given in Deuteronomy 26:12 (Ainsworth).  Μετὰ/after,[11] taken concerning time, sometimes signifies within.  It does not always indicate a consequent time, but sometimes a time lying between and yet in its strength.  Thus here מִקְצֵה, from the end, etc., that is, in any third year.  Thus in Deuteronomy 31:10, מִקֵּץ, from the end, of seven years, that is, in the seventh year:  in Joshua 9:16, and it was from the end[12] of three days, that is, on the third day, as it is evident from verse 17:  in 2 Kings 18:10, and he took it מִקְצֵה, from the end, of three years, or, after three years, that is, in the third year itself; for in the seventh year of Hoshea he besieged it, verse 9, and in the ninth year he conquered it, as it is said in verse 10 and in 2 Kings 17:6 (Glassius’ “Grammar” 544).

At the end of three years, i.e. in the third year, as it is expressed, Deuteronomy 26:12.  So, in the end of three years, or of seven years, is the same with in the third or seventh year, as appears by comparing Deuteronomy 31:10; Joshua 9:16, 17; 2 Kings 18:9, 10; 17:6.

[Another tithe]  This tithe is called the consummation of tithes, inasmuch as in it the love of the neighbor more manifestly appeared (Grotius on verse 29).  This is the third tithe, as it is called in Tobit 1:8,[13] that is, the tithe of the third year was nothing other than the first tithe, which, as in the other years at Jerusalem it was put into the hands of the Levites, who were performing at that time the ministry, so also in the third year was put into the barns and cellars of the farmer, and was expended on the Levites, widows, etc., Deuteronomy 14:28, 29:  wherefore it is called the tithe of the poor (Scaliger, and out of Scaliger Amama on Deuteronomy 26:12).  It is proven.  Either it was the first, or the second; or, it took away the first, or the second tithe.  If it had taken away both, it would have brought the priests into a wretched condition.  It did not take away the second tithe, which was consumed in the courtyard with the farmer present; because thus for that whole year the priests would have been very hungry, inasmuch as nothing was to be expected beyond the tithes of the tithes of the Levites, and תְּרוּמוֹת/Therumas, the heave-offerings, a part of which was to be expended on their daily provision, a part of which was to be stored in the sixth year for the year of Remission.  But how little were those for so many priests, who in the age of Josephus were more than one hundred and twenty thousand!  Therefore, it took away the first; so that by this arrangement only the tithe of the tithes would be withdrawn from the priests, and only that which was conferred upon orphans, widows, and the poor would be withdrawn from the Levites.  And thus at the small expense of both orders attention was given to the common poverty.  All which would have been otherwise, if, as some suppose, these tithes of the third year took ways the second tithes (Amama).  Those who think that this is a tithe diverse from the first, and set up a third, are as deceived as those who place the tithe of the tithe among these differences.  For a reason for the tithes is only had, which the inhabitants, not which the Levites, were paying (Scaliger).  [But concerning these things Scaliger and Amama discuss at greater length in the passage cited, who are able easily to be consulted.]

All the tithe of thine increase.  I join with those expositors who make this the same tithe with the former, Deuteronomy 14:22, as being called by the same title without any distinction between them, save only as to the place of eating them.  See above on verse 22, and 12:17.  The same year:  this is added to show that he speaks of the third year, and not of the fourth year, as some might conjecture from the phrase, at the end of three years.

 

Verse 29:  (Deut. 26:12) And the Levite, (because [Deut. 14:27; 12:12] he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that (Deut. 15:10; Prov. 3:9, 10; see Mal. 3:10) the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

[And the orphan, etc.]  Lest either they be compelled to beg, or to serve foreigners at the risk of being corrupted (Bonfrerius after Lyra).



[1] See Numbers 18:26-32.

[2] See, for example, Numbers 18:24.

[3] See, for example, Deuteronomy 12:6, 7.

[4] Scaliger wrote a work De Decimis (Concerning Tithes).

[5] Sixtinus Amama (1593-1629) was Professor of Hebrew at Oxford (1613) and at Franeker (1618), succeeding John Drusius.  He is remembered for his skill in Oriental languages and his defense of the ultimate authority of the original texts of Scripture.  He wrote a work De Decimis (Concerning Tithes).

[6] Moshe ben Nehman Gerondi, or Nahmanides (1194-1270), was a medieval Spanish rabbi, a philosopher, a Kabbalist, and a Biblical commentator.  His commentary on the Torah is characterized by his own careful philological work, an uncritical acceptance of the teachings of the rabbis of the Talmud, and mysticism.

[7] Hebrew:  שְׂאֵתוֹ.

[8] The final clause is missing in the Vulgate.

[9] צוּר signifies to confine or bind.

[10] Hebrew:  תּשְׁאָלְךָ.

[11] Thus the Septuagint.

[12] Hebrew:  מִקְצֵה.

[13] Tobit 1:7, 8:  “The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem:  another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem:  And the third I gave unto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my father’s mother had commanded me, because I was left an orphan by my father.”

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