11. (O.T.) The tithe command of Malachi

The Tithe?

11.  Old Testament
The Tithe Command of Malachi
(Neh 13 & the Book of Malachi)
(Please read previous articles on tithing first)

The book of Malachi was written to correct the corrupt religious and social behavior of the Israelites – particularly the priests. As stated in Mal 1:6, the book was written to the dishonest priests who were allowing inferior sacrificial tithes and offerings to enter the gates of Jerusalem. Malachi emphasized the lordship of God, scorning the priests for failing to provide the proper moral and religious leadership to the people.

It is important that one read the book of Malachi alongside the book of Nehemiah – especially the 13th chapter - because it is supportive of what Nehemiah did when he returned back to Jerusalem to purify the temple. This will give a much clearer picture of what the book of Malachi is all about.

When Nehemiah saw what was happening at the temple, his anger spewed out through the writings of Malachi to the priests.

Mal 3:8-12 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. KJV

The stolen tithes of the meat, grain, and wine had to be replaced, and it is probable, although not biblically documented, that Eliashib the high priest was replaced. If Nehemiah 13 is in the context of Malachi 3:8-10, it then makes perfect sense. They had taken the tithes out of the storehouse and withheld them from the Levites who could not function in their duties in the temple. They also robbed their own benefits of the tithe. Therefore, God was telling the priests in Malachi 3:10 to bring "ALL the tithe" that belongs in the empty storeroom back, especially the portion they had stolen from the Levites. We have in Nehemiah a plain historical event of what is in the context of Malachi 3:1-10, especially the necessity of cleansing the priesthood. [i]

Through Nehemiah’s efforts, a national revival took place and the people were called back to the standards of the Mosaic Law.

Who Were the Non-Tithing Israelites?

As Jerusalem expanded and the population grew, more tradesmen were needed. Beyond the agrarian farm and herdsmen owners who were commanded to tithe, there were those of other trades within the city who were not. There were bakers, candle makers, carpenters, clothing makers, hired farm workers, hired herdsmen, hired household servants, jewelry craftsmen, mason, metal craftsmen, musicians, painters, perfume makers, physicians, sculptors, soldiers, tanners, teachers, and tent makers. None of these professions or occupations were included in any list of tithes or tithing because, again, the tithe came from the land of Canaan. These non-tithing sources provided much of the money for head taxes, temple taxes, tribute to foreign conquerors and, of course, free-will offerings. [ii]

Again, it is important to remember that the tithe belonged to the land.  Poor people, even if they owned producing land and herds, did not tithe the increase of their land since everything they had was necessary for their survival. Poor people also included the Levites and priests – and they were the recipient of the tithe. They did, however, have to pay a temple tax.

To continue on to section #12 on tithing, click here


[i] http://home.earthlink.net/~russkellyphd/id4.html
[ii] Kelly, Russell Earl. Should the Church Teach Tithing? Acworth, GA. http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com/

Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

Believers Bible School, Founder https://believersbibleschool.com/