In previous articles, I have addressed different aspects of the biblical tithe. From scripture we understand that the tithe was always THE TENTH (not 10%) of agricultural produce alone. And this still seems to garner a lot of controversy as many still believe that the tenth and 10% mean the same thing.
This confusion stems from the mistaken notion that the tenth means the same thing as one tenth. Although one tenth really does mean 10%. If for example we have 150 people standing in a queue and the tenth person in the queue happens to be African American, are we correct if we say that since he is the tenth he represents 10% of the group? Of course not! He is the tenth because he has 9 people before him and that in no way means he represents 10% of the group. Does the African American also represent one tenth of the group because he is the tenth? Definitely not!
Another aspect of tithing that has been hotly debated is the tithing of money. Many pro-tithers believe the bible commands a tithe of money while others believe money was absent because Israel was an agrarian society so agricultural produce was used as the unit of exchange in a barter system hence a tithe on agricultural produce. The main problem with this reasoning is it is simply not based on scripture. Those who promote this are trying to bend the bible to suit their beliefs.
In Deuteronomy 14, the Lord lists items that can be tithed and money was not mentioned. Titheable items were grains, wine, olive oil and livestock. If we say money was not included because it was not present, how then do we explain this verse?
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 When you take a census of the people of Israel, each man is to pay me a price for his life, so that no disaster will come on him while the census is being taken.13 Everyone included in the census must pay the required amount of money, weighed according to the official standard. Everyone must pay this as an offering to me.14 Everyone being counted in the census, that is, every man twenty years old or older, is to pay me this amount.15 The rich man is not to pay more, nor the poor man less, when they pay this amount for their lives.16 Collect this money from the people of Israel and spend it for the upkeep of the Tent of my presence. This tax will be the payment for their lives, and I will remember to protect them. Exodus 30
This command would have been impossible to obey in a barter society. This verse makes it clear that money was widely available and played a vital part in the lives of the Israelites. Here are more references to money in the law
If someone’s bull kills someone else’s bull, the two of them shall sell the live bull and divide the money; they shall also divide up the meat from the dead animal. Exo 21: 35
If you lend money to any of my people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and require him to pay interest. Exo 22: 25
17 No Israelite, man or woman, is to become a temple prostitute.18 Also, no money earned in this way may be brought into the house of the Lord your God in fulfillment of a vow. The Lord hates temple prostitutes. 19 When you lend money or food or anything else to Israelites, do not charge them interest. Deu 23
The above verses and many more scriptural verses show that money was available and was part of the everyday lives of the Israelites but it clearly was not included as something to tithe.
The command to tithe money is obviously man-made and does not exist in the pages of the bible. Those who have repurposed the biblical tithes to suit their purposes are no different from thieves who take people’s possessions by force. Thieves use dangerous weapons to frighten people into parting with their valuables, a similar tactic employed by these preachers but instead of a knife or gun, scripture taken completely out of context is used to the same effect.