Is there anything in the first chapters of Genesis to state
or indicate that tithing was something practiced from the
beginning. At first glance the answer to that question may seem
to be - no! The word "tithe" or "tenth" cannot be found in those
first chapters. There is no scripture that says, "And the Lord
commanded all men to tithe to Him." Then again there is no
scripture in those early chapters that says, "thou shalt not
murder" but it is obvious that God was not pleased with Cain for
killing Abel. Cain even expected that he would die over the
Not everything is just neatly and plainly laid out for us in
all details in those first chapters of Genesis. The rest of the
Bible must be used to throw some light on our questions. Paul was
inspired to say that DEATH did REIGN from Adam to Moses, and
until the law was given in a specific way to Israel, SIN was in
the world - Romans 5:12- 14. He said that he had not known sin
but by the law - chapter 7:7. And John tells us that sin is the
transgression of the law - 1 John 3:4. The law has points, Paul
mentions one of them and James a few more - Rom.7:7; James
Putting it all together we can then know that the basic 10
commandment law was in effect from the beginning.
But what about tithing ? Could it have been from the
beginning also? Before you dismiss the answer with a no, or "do
not know" there is a section of scripture we need to meditate
on. In the KJV we shall probably miss it completely.
Before I proceed with this verse, and I will be quoting to
explain it from a book called THE TITHE IN SCRIPTURE by Henry
Lansdell, D.D. I want to tell you a little about Lansdell and
his research into this subject. Apparently his first and original
work was an in-depth two volume publication called THE SACRED
TENTH. From what I can gather those two volumes contain a great
deal of historic facts from ancient nations around the world
about their practice of not just giving offerings to their gods
but a TENTH of their substance. This was true of various nations
from various parts of the earth. The book THE TITHE IN SCRIPTURE
are chapters taken from the two volume set. I wish the original
two volumes called THE SACRED TENTH were still in print and
available, but to my knowledge they are not.
The book THE TITHE IN SCRIPTURE can be obtained from GIVING
AND SHARING(P.O.Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849) and is FREE!
QUOTE from the above book, pages 8-10.
" Concerning Cain and Abel, our present Hebrew text (as
literally as I can translate it) thus: ' He did not look
favourably. And it vexed Cain exceedingly, and his countenance
fell. And Jehovah said to Cain, Wherefore did it vex thee, and
wherefore did thy countenance fall? If thou wilt do well, shall
not thy face be lifted up? but if thou wilt not do well, sin is
couching at the door.'
But passing now to the Septuagint, or Greek, translation of
Genesis, this sixth verse runs as follows: ' And the Lord God
said to Cain, Wherefore didst thou become vexed, and wherefore
did thy countenance fall? If thou didst rightly offer, but didst
NOT RIGHTLY DIVIDE, didst thou not sin? Hold thy peace.'
This Greek version, be it remembered, was made about three
hundred years before the Christian era, from a Hebrew copy that
must have been more than a thousand years older than the oldest
Hebrew manuscript we possess now. This translation, moreover,
was perfectly familiar to the writers of the New Testament. And
if we may reverently picture the author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews glancing over his Greek Bible before penning his chapter
of Old Testament worthies, we should remember that he had
before him these very words concerning Cain's NOT DIVIDING
RIGHTLY, when he wrote, ' By faith Abel offered unto God a more
ABUNDANT sacrifice then Cain.'
( The word for "more excellent" in the Greek of Hebrews 11:4
is "pleion" and means "more, greater," the comparative degree of
"polus," - "much." See Vines Dictionary, new edition, page 215.
" Various suggestions, of course, are offered to show in
what consisted the sin of Cain; but, be that as it may, Abel is
said to have offered 'by faith.' Now FAITH has reference to
OBEDIENCE, which implies that a previous COMMAND had been made
known. Where no law has been given there can be no
transgression; and unless directions had been communicated to
these two worshippers as to the AMOUNT or PROPORTION of their
property to bring, and if either was at liberty to offer as much
or as little as he pleased, then it is not easy to see why Cain
should by implication be blamed for bringing less; the occasion
being, I take it, a farmer and a grazier each bringing the
firstfruits of his increase, not so much as a propitiatory
sacrifice (for we are not told they had sinned), but rather as a
present or thankoffering to God in token of His lordship over
them - just as we may read was DONE FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES IN
EGYPT, AND WHICH ILLUSTRATES AN ALMOST UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED
BELIEF IN THE ANCIENT WORLD, WHETHER PAGAN OR OTHERWISE, NAMELY
THAT IT WAS NOT LAWFUL TO EAT OF THE NEW FRUIT UNTIL GOD'S
PORTION HAD BEEN DIVIDED OFF FROM THE REST......."
End of quote, all emphasis mine throughout.
Now I will give you some quotes from following pages of
chapter one and two of Lansdell's book, to do more with the facts
he uncovered as he did his research in history for his original
two volume work called THE SACRED TENTH.
" ......fully establishing, in connection with ABUNDANT
INFORMATION FROM PAGAN LITERATURE, that in ALL AGES IN THE
ANCIENT WORLD, man have thought it their duty to offer a portion
of their substance to the divine Being.......If it was originally
left to every man to give for religious purposes merely according
to his own inclinations - that is, as much or as little as he
pleased - then HOW should SO MANY PEOPLES HAVE HIT UPON A TENTH
FOR GOD'S PORTION, rather than a fifth, or a fifteenth, or any
other? Does not the UNIVERSALITY OF THIS PORTION point to a time
when the ANCESTORS OF THOSE NATIONS LIVED TOGETHER, and so
DERIVED THE CUSTOM FROM A COMMON SOURCE?
No profane author, and no account or tradition known to us
in any country, professes to give than origin, nor does the Bible
do so in express terms. Can we, then, frame any hypothesis that
would account for the facts before us?
Most men, presumably, will allow that SACRIFICE was NOT of
human invention, but a DIVINE INSTITUTION appointed by God. And
if God appointed also that some things were acceptable to Him as
'clean' and others not so, is it REASONABLE to suppose that He
would have omitted directions about the QUANTITY, or PROPORTION
in which such things should be offered?
If, then, we may venture the hypothesis that God from the
BEGINNING taught Adam that it was the duty of man to render a
portion of his increase to his Maker, and that that portion was
to be NOT LESS THAN A TENTH, then we shall see that the facts
recorded in Genesis not only do not contradict such a
supposition, but corroborate and strengthen it.
The Septuagint version, then, would show an instance of
covetousness in the person of Cain........In accord with this
theory, also, Abel's fullest sacrifice was accepted; and so
sacrifice and tithe-paying may be presumed to have continued all
along the centuries to the days of Noah. THEN, when his
descendants built cities in Babylonia and afterwards became
SCATTERED, they would naturally TAKE WITH THEM, among other
primeval customs and traditions, the OFFERING OF SACRIFICE and
TITHE-PAYING. And thus would be accounted for, only a few
centuries later, the existence of these customs as RECORDED IN
THE CUNEIFORM LITERATURE ON THE TABLETS WE POSSES, AS WELL AS THE
INFORMATION GIVEN US ABOUT TITHE-PAYING IN THE LITERATURE OF
EGYPT, GREECE, AND ROME.
It is not pretended that this hypothesis MUST be true, or
that no other can be advanced; but meanwhile I am among those who
think that it meets the facts of the case, but who hold
themselves ready to examine another theory if
I also am of the same position as Lansdell in what he says
in the last sentence I quoted above. We know that pagan
scattered nations from all parts of the earth have just about
unanimously offered physical sacrifice in their religion to their
gods. Such a custom surely must come from an original teaching.
And certainly what the Bible tells us about sacrifice and the
peoples of the earth being as one until God scattered them
abroad, leads to a clear answer as to why worldwide sacrificing
is a common practice among most pagan nations.
Henry Lansdell had as I've mentioned, studied the historical
data of the writings of ancient nations around the world, and he
discovered not only a common thread of sacrificing among them,
but also the same practice and teaching that a TENTH was to
be set aside as the portion to be offered to the gods.
Surely this must lead back to a central beginning teaching,
namely, the teaching of the Eternal God to Adam in the garden of
To be continued
Written May 1997