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Tithing with Justice

by Chris Haw Economic difficulties are ravaging most of the world, at the same time; many are renewing our commitment to practices of our Christian faith, including the meaning of tithing and how the tithe relates to the poor. Tithing, as the giving of 10% of one’s income to the Church, has its foundation within the Hebrew Bible (commonly known as the Old Testament).  Yet, to narrowly understand tithing, as the giving of 10% to an ecclesiastical institution, is to miss the breadth and depth of what the Hebrew Bible has to say regarding issues of justice, economic equality and caring for those in need. A Look at Tithing in the Hebrew Bible The history of the Hebrew tithe (tenth) is complex. To understand the history of the tithe requires some knowledge of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures) and Israel’s history. Many contemporary scholars believe the Torah was compiled between the years of King David (1000 BCE) and somewhere around 450 BCE.  This covers a broad range of Hebrew history, making it difficult to interpret the writings and implications of the tithe in history. The Torah addresses the tithe in many places, three of which may not be easily reconciled. The main texts in mind are found in Deuteronomy 14, Leviticus 27...

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