ABRAHAM and Tithing
The basic truths of the WAY TO SALVATION by grace through
faith have always been there in the Word from the beginning. In
the process of time when that grace and faith was made manifest
to Israel and the world through God who came as flesh and blood
in the form of Jesus Christ, Paul was used to proclaim that truth
more than any other single man in recorded detail for the New
The Jews had been raised for centuries on the physical rites
of the Old Covenant. Rites such as the Tabernacle/Temple,
Priesthood, Sacrifices, and physical Circumcision. From childhood
the Jews was exposed to all these rites, and many others. It was
their CULTURE, their way of life. For them it was like breathing
the air, like walking, like talking, it was second nature. It was
the way to live because it was, at least in the basics above
mentioned, FROM God, instituted by the Eternal through Moses.
It was not surprising then that when apostles like Paul came
along and started to preach Jesus as the Messiah, and that
salvation was not through ANY works but by GRACE through FAITH in
Christ Jesus, there would arise a certain OPPOSITION from
certain religious Jews. When Paul preached that "circumcision
was nothing, and uncircumcision was nothing" there would bound to
be opposition from some Jews.
Paul had to DEFEND the truth of his teaching with the truth
FROM the WORD of the Lord. He had to painstakingly proves from
the Scriptures of old that GRACE and FAITH to be saved came
BEFORE the Old Covenant with its Tabernacle, priesthood and
sacrifices. He had to prove also that grace and faith to
salvation came BEFORE circumcision. This he did in large portions
of the letter to the ROMANS and his letter to the GALATIANS.
And one of the most important EXAMPLES he could possibly
give to the Jews especially, as that of THEIR FATHER ABRAHAM!!
To the Jews Moses was very important, but so also was
Abraham. He was just as important a figure. Why was it not the
Bible itself that said their fathers were Abraham, Isaac, and
The importance of Abraham can be seen from the controversy
Jesus had with the Jews in John chapter 8 and verses 31-59.
Paul proved in his writing that Abraham was JUSTIFIED by God
through FAITH, and that BEFORE he was introduced to the rite of
circumcision by God for him and his seed. Abraham Paul showed,
found the true way to salvation BEFORE circumcision, BEFORE the
Old Covenant with Israel, BEFORE the tabernacle, priesthood and
sacrificial system was given to Israel through Moses. Paul argued
that what came AFTER could not annual what came BEFORE.
Abraham is held up by Paul and the entire New Covenant as
the FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL, that "if you are Christ's then are
you Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise"
Jesus told the Jews that if they were really the children of
Abraham then they
ould do the WORKS of Abraham (John 8:39).
Let's see what one of those works of Abraham was.
DID ABRAHAM TITHE?
Paul, writing about the old and new Priesthoods, introduces
us to Abraham within this subject, and also brings in the topic
of tithing. I refer you to Hebrews the seventh chapter. We pick
it up in verses one: "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem,
priest of the most High God, who met Abraham.......To whom
Abraham gave a TENTH PART of ALL........Now consider how great
this man was, unto whom even Abraham gave a TENTH of the
spoils.........But He.......received TITHES of Abraham.......And
as I may so say, Levi also, who received tithes, PAYED TITHES in
Abraham. For he (Levi) was yet in his loins of his father, when
Melchisedec met him" (Hebrews 7:1-10).
VERY CLEAR AND PLAIN - Abraham did TITHE!!
Oh I guess he did for it is written of this man who is known
as the father of the faithful: " And I will make your seed
multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto your seed all
these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed; Because that Abraham OBEYED My voice, and KEPT
My charge, My COMMANDMENTS, My STATUES, and My LAWS"
The original account of Abraham meeting the great priest
Melchizedek(as spelled in the OT KJV) can be found in Genesis 14.
It is time to again quote from the book THE TITHE IN
SCRIPTURE by Henry Lansdell, D.D. I will be quoting from his
second chapter. Please note some of the HISTORICAL reference
about tithing in nations outside of Abraham and before the time
" We now pass to the example of Abram, of whom we read that
a proportion of his spoils that he devoted, was a tenth.......he
was met near Jerusalem by a kingly priest, Melchizedek.....and to
whom Abram offered a tenth of all.
Here then, we have an instance of tithe-paying.......and
this has ordinarily been regarded as the earliest recorded
instance of the payment of tithe.
Bur RECENT DISCOVERIES(this book was written at the
beginning of the 20th century - KH), transmitted to us by the
students of CUNEIFORM LITERATURE, have thrown a FLOOD OF NEW
LIGHT upon the land of Canaan BEFORE it was peopled by
the Israelites. Professor Sayce, tracing the migration of Abram
from Ur of the Chaldees, says in his Patriarchal Palestine, 1 p
66 '.......Even in canaan, Abram was not beyond the reach of
Babylonian influences......Babylonian armies had already
penetrated to the shores of the Mediterranean, Palestine had been
included within the bounds of a Babylonian empire, and Babylonian
culture and religion had spread widely among the Canaanitish
tribes. The cuneiform system of writing had made its way to
Syria, and Babylonian literature had followed in its wake.
Centuries had already passed since Sargon of Akkad had made
himself master of the Mediterranean coast, and his son
Naram-Sinhad led his forces to the peninsula of Sinai.'
Now if Babylonian CULTURE and RELIGION had thus spread to
the Canaanites, it suggests a reason why the colony of
Phoenicians from Tyre, who founded Carthage (say about 900 B.C.)
were tithe-payers (see Sacred Tenth, p.15).Melchizedek...priestly
character to expect tithes from Abram as it was for Abram to pay
them. Hence the professor(Sayce) alluding to this incident,
says: ' This offering of tithes was no new thing. In his
Babylonian home Abram MUST HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR WITH THE PRACTICE.
The CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS OF BABYLONIA contain FREQUENT
REFERENCES to it. It went back to the smi- Semitic age of
Chaldaea, and the great temples of Babylonia were largely
supported by the esra OR TITHE which was levied upon prince
and peasant alike. That the god should receive a TENTH of the
good things which, it was believed, he had bestowed upon mankind
was not considered to be asking too much. There are MANY TABLETS
in the BRITISH MUSEUM which are receipts for payment of
the tithe to the great temple of the sun-god at Sippara, in the
time of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. From one of them we
learn that Belshazzar, even at the very moment when the
Babylonian empire was falling from his father's hands,
nevertheless found an opportunity for paying the tithe due from
A question may here be asked as to the extent of Abram's
tithes: were they a tenth of all his spoils only, and so given
voluntarily and specially on this particular occasion, or
were they a tenth of all his income and something paid as a due?
Neither the Hebrew of Genesis nor the Greek of the Epistle
to the Hebrews LIMITS the word 'all' to the spoils.........Hence
we conclude that the tenth paid by Abram was not merely an
offering, which the patriarch was at liberty to render or to
withhold as he pleased, but a payment of obligation.
This, too, appears the more likely because Abram by right of
conquest might have claimed all that he had captured from
Chedorlaomer. the king of Sodom, recognizing this, invites him
to take the goods to himself. But Abram declines to take
anything for himself, though, as a conqueror, he seems to have
recognized that he had no jurisdiction over God's tenth; and
whilst surrendering his own claim to nine-tenths of the spoils,
he acted as thought he could not surrender God's........
And since Abram often was dwelling within a day's journey of
Salem( this is, Jerusalem) we need not at all conclude that this
was either the first or the last occasion on which Abram paid a
tenth of his increase to Melchizedek. If the patriarch did so
annually, it would be only in keeping with the practice of his
Babylonian ancestors, and what we know was afterwards conceded by
the Carthaginians to be due to their Phoenician priesthood.
This inference or supposition is strengthened to something
like probability by consideration of the subsequent conduct of
Abram's grandson Jacob, who, being about to undertake a journey,
did what we know quite well was common among the Semites,
the Greeks, the Romans, and indeed, is still practiced: he vowed
a vow........Gen.28:20- 22.........Now it will be remembered that
Abram lived till the boyhood of Jacob; that Jacob was brought up
in the faith of his grandfather; and that at Bethel God confirmed
to Jacob and his posterity all the promises He made to Abraham.
What then, could be more natural than that Jacob should avow
himself ready to practice Abraham's religious observances?
He promises to take the God of Abraham for his own God, to
dedicate a certain place to His worship as did Abraham, and also
to follow his grandfather's practice in dedicating to God a tenth
of all he should receive........
Or, again, it may be urged that tithes are not even
mentioned until the days of Abram, and so were till then unknown,
it is easy to point to persons and things which we feel sure must
have existed long before they are mentioned in the order of
events recorded in Genesis......Amraphel of Shinar is the first
man called a king (Gen.14:1), and Abraham the first called a
prophet. But.....men had been on the earth for a great many
years; and are we to suppose that mankind had lived century after
century without priests, kings, and prophets?
Again, Noah is the first who is expressly called a
'righteous man' and Abram is the first who is said to have
'believed in God' ; yet we know that before these, Abel and
Enoch were both righteous, and also believed in God. Once more:
the human race had been on earth, according to the received
chronology, about a thousand years before we read of musical
instruments; and was a thousand years later still when Abram
weighed shekels of silver as payment. But he would be a bold man
who would affirm that before these dates respectively, mankind
possessed neither music nor money !
The mere omission, therefore of the definite mention of a
law concerning tithe- giving, in the less than a dozen chapters
given to us in Genesis concerning the early history of the world,
is no proof or presumption whatever that such a law did not
As another objection to our hypothesis, it has been
suggested that the pagan nations of antiquity may have learned
the practice of tithe-paying from the Jews. But can
this suggestion be supported by one tittle of evidence? Can a
single passage by adduced from any Greek or Roman classic to
confirm such an idea? ......it has been all but demonstrated that
tithes were paid in Babylonia BEFORE Abram was born, so that
for the origin of the practice we are sent further back,
seemingly, than 2000 B.C.........."
We did see in part one of this study that the historical
evidence of the nations of the world, show the great probability
that tithe-paying was taught by God to Adam from the beginning,
as was physical animal sacrificing, hence both came through Noah
and the flood to all peoples, who when scattered from the tower
of Babel, took these religious custom and others with them.
Coming back to Abraham and our present study. It is clear
that this great Godly man DID TITHE! It is clear from the
Scriptures he was the first of the THREE fathers of Israel. It
is clear he was a man a FAITH. And faith is coupled with
OBEDIENCE or WORKS. It is plainly stated by God Himself that
Abraham OBEYED the Lord's voice, KEPT His COMMANDMENTS, STATUTES
and LAWS. One of those being TITHING! It is clear from the New
Testament that Abraham is held as an EXAMPLE that ALL true
children of God are to imitate and to DO HID WORKS of
righteousness and faith. Yes, he is held as the father of the
faithful. And yes, it does TAKE FAITH to TITHE, especially
if you are not one of the "rich of this world." Then again,
Jesus said it would be very difficult for the rich to enter the
Kingdom of God.
Abraham DID TITHE! No question about it, for it is so
written. AND THIS WAS ALL BEFORE THE OLD COVENANT ! Whatever
you want to argue about the law of tithing in the OC, tithing was
BEFORE ALL THAT! Just as GRACE and FAITH, the way of salvation,
came BEFORE the OC and all its VARIOUS LAWS pertaining to that
Old Covenant, SO THE LAW OF TITHING WAS WITH ABRAHAM BEFORE
CIRCUMCISION AND THE OLD COVENANT GIVEN TO ISRAEL THROUGH MOSES!
ALL THE ARGUING ABOUT TITHING COULD STOP RIGHT HERE! NO
NEED TO PROCEED ANY FURTHER. TITHING WAS BEFORE MOSES! AS THERE
IS NO STATEMENT IN THE NT TO "ABOLISH" THE LAW OF TITHING, AS
ABRAHAM TITHED TO THE MELCHISEDEC PRIESTHOOD, AND AS THAT
MELCHISEDEC PRIESTHOOD NOW BELONGS TO CHRIST, AS IT CONTINUES
TODAY IN CHRIST(HEB.7), SO TITHING BY THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
(CHRISTIANS) WHO WILL DO THE WORKS OF ABRAHAM, WILL CONTINUE TO
THE MELCHISEDEC CHRIST PRIESTHOOD.
HOW SIMPLE ARE THE WORKS AND THE WAYS OF THE LORD. TRULY
JESUS DID SAY: "I thank you Father that you have hid these things
from the wise and prudent and have revealed them unto babes."
Next time we shall look at the question: Was there THREE
tithes under the Old Covenant given to Israel?
Written May 1997