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6. (O.T.) The tithe during the years of the judges


The Tithe?

6.  Old Testament
The Tithe During the Years of the Judges 
(Judges 17:6; 21:25) 
(Please read previous articles on tithing first)

During the 300+ years of the period of the judges, tithing is not mentioned in the Bible. According to Judges 17:6, each man did what was right in his own eyes. There was no central government or organized worship; furthermore, many Israelites returned to paganism. In addition, several Israelite tribes were forced into bondage of neighboring nations. As listed in Num 3, 4, and 8, any tithes given unto the LORD were inconsistent, or even non-existent, bringing many from the Levitical priesthood to become drifters or beggars.

Once Israel rejected God’s rule through the judges, with God giving them a king, the political authorities became responsible for collecting and redistributing of the tithe.

The Tithe under King Saul and King David 
(1 Sam 8:10-18)

When Israel asked for a king to rule over them, like their neighboring countries, God declared that His people had rejected Him. He, however, gave them their request. Just as soon as they became a nation ruled by a king (King Saul), the first tithe, which was the priesthood tithe, became part of the national taxation, which was collected and redistributed by the king according to his needs. The first tithe became regarded as the “king’ share.” The next king, King David, took many of the Levites out of the Levitical cities, and used them as his core to finance the government, pay government expenses, build government buildings, and provide a national army. That first tithe was also used to rule and oversee the worship facilities. This principle was centuries later used to legitimate the right of kings to collect tithes in order to support a state church. None of the prophets of God throughout the Old Testament rejected to this church-state arrangement.

As tabernacle workers, David re-organized the Levites’ tabernacle work schedules under his political authority. Dividing it into 24 divisions, each Levite served at the temple only one week at a time, or about two weeks per year (1 Chron 24) as was done before. During the construction of the Davidic tabernacle, which was designed to house the ark of the covenant (2 Sam 6:12,17), David divided the thousands of Levites in construction supervisors, judges and treasurers, gatekeepers, musicians, singers, and even civil politicians and soldiers. None of them were full-time workers - King David used them as the base of his political support. By this time there were hundreds of thousands of Levites at the service of the king. While only serving two weeks a year in religious activities at the tabernacle, the remainder of the time many Levites were used in other capacities for the king or sent back to the Levitical cities. Although the old tabernacle remained in Gibeon until the days of Solomon, it contained the bronze altar for sacrifices. Two tabernacles, therefore, were used during the time of King David (1 Chron 16:39; 2 Chron 1:3). [i]

Since the first tax (or first tithe) now went to the king, many Levites were used as public officials for his service in other areas around the tabernacle(s) or palace, or however he saw fit. They, however, were supported by very meager wages.

The first temple was built under Solomon. All the materials, however, were collected by his father David, who obtained the supplies from the spoils of war. Solomon, and the kings that followed him, controlled the treasures of palace and temple alike, since the kings were responsible for the maintenance of the sanctuary and its service. The tithe then came to be channeled to the court and was therefore supervised by royal authorities.

In addition, King Solomon added to the first tithe by forcing all residents of Canaan (Israelites and non-Israelites alike) to work every third month on the king’s farms and on the king’s projects without pay.  

To continue on to chapter 7 on tithing, click here


[i] New Unger's Bible Dictionary . Moody Press. Chicago. 1988.



Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

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