9. (O.T.) The Tithe during and after the exile

The Tithe?

9.  Old Testamen
The Tithe During the Exiles
(Please read all previous articles on tithing first)

Israel fell into exile in 722 B.C. and Judah fell in 586 B.C. The kings in both nations were wicked and God had warned them of what would happen if they did not turn back to Him. The survivors of the nation of Israel were taken captive first by the Assyrians and exiled into the land of their captor. When Babylonia conquered the Assyrians, they conquered Judah as well, taking its survivors into exile into Babylonia. There they resided in captivity for 70 years away from their land, temple, and worship to their God. Since the tithe was connected to the land and not the people, there was no requirement for a tithe while away in exile. Also, nothing is mentioned in scripture of any tithe during the exile period.

The Tithe Following the Exile

At the close of the exile, when the Persians conquered the Babylonians, that meant Canaan was ruled by Persia. The Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. Only a small remnant, however, went back home, and went in groups of three exoduses. Many stayed in the land of exile where synagogues were begun as social centers and new worship places for God existed. Levitical priesthoods, sacrifices, feasts, festivals, and tithes, however, were non-existent. Again, the tithe was connected to the land of Canaan. Emphasis was now put more on the study of the law. The majority of the Jews stayed and mingled within the land of their exile, becoming paganistic in their beliefs.

The first exodus
The first exodus was led by Zerubbabel, heir of the former King Jehoiachin of Judah. The purpose of this exodus was to lay the foundation of the former desecrated temple. As Jews, it was important to have their temple so they could again have their sacrifices and worship. With the blessings of Cyrus, king of Persia, Zerubbabel led the first of exiles back to Jerusalem. A group of 50,000 people went back for the purpose of setting up an altar for burnt offerings and take steps to rebuild the temple by laying the foundation of the new erection. Opposition from the local Samaritans came, along with the returned exiles spending time to build their own homes. As such, the halt came about of the building of the foundation of the temple. As the years continued, paganism crept in with the returned Israelites. Seventeen years later the prophets Haggai and Zechariah convinced Zerubbabel to resume work on the temple. This renewed effort involved the exiles, the prophets, and the Persian king. Zerubbabel received considerable grant money and material from Persia to continue building the temple. Five years later the temple was completed, which was 22 years since the 1st exodus returned home.

The second exodus
Sixty years after the first exodus, another group of Jews traveled back to Jerusalem. Ezra, who came from the lineal descendant of Aaron, and was the grandson of Hilkiah, the high priest during the reign of Josiah back in Judah, played a large part in the second exodus. Ezra lived in captivity during the exile and continued there afterward to serve in the court of the king of Persia as a skilled scribe and teacher in the books of the Law. Ezra was commissioned and financed by Artaxerxes, the new king of Persia, to form another group of Jews to return to their homeland for the purpose of bringing a new commitment to God’s law. As such, Ezra needed to bring back Levitical priests to serve the people in religious matters. Ezra gathers 1754 exiles, along with 38 Levites to go back to Jerusalem. He was given silver vessels for use in the temple and freewill offerings from the people of gold and silver to pay for the journey back home.

By the time that Ezra and the travelers entered into Jerusalem, they saw that the former exiles had gotten involved in intermarriage with the local heathens. This was in violation of the Law of Moses and against all they came back to their homeland to accomplish. After a time of prayer and fasting, Ezra, having the authority from the king of Persia to be the magistrate and judge over the people, commanded that all Jews divorce themselves from any heathen wife and children. The Law of Moses was read to the people for seven straight days. The Feast of the Passover and Tabernacles were then celebrated as a reminder of what God did for the Israelites in Egypt. They finished by reading the Book of Esther, followed by celebrating the Feasts of Purim, as a reminder of what God had recently done for them. The result was a religious revival. A short time later Ezra went back to Persia and resumed his duties in the courts of the king to study the law.

To continue on to chapter 10 on tithing, click here

Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

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