- In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need such as orphans, widows, strangers, and Levites.
Deuteronomy 26:12-13: V12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year – the year of tithing – and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled.
V13 Then you shall say before the LORD your God; I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.”
- The first portion of this tells us about “tithes.” The people completed tithing that third year “all the tithes” – which implies more than one tenth in the third year. (“The third year” refers to the third year of the cycle of seven.) The third year was a special year.
- Since the laws of letting the land rest and releasing the poor debtors were based on a cycle of seven years, we are to save this special tithe in the third and sixth years out of every seven-year period.
- The Jews who translated Deuteronomy 26:12 into Greek in the Septuagint, understood it. Notice this verse as it is translated in the Septuagint:
Deuteronomy 26:12 “When thou hast completed tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, thou shalt bring the second additional tithe to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat in thy gates, and be merry.”
- The Greek wording here is to deuteron epidekaton – that is – “the second additional tithe.” There is not only one “tithe” (first tithe), but also an “additional tithe” (second tithe), then this “second additional tithe.” That is how the Jews understood it 250 or 270 years before the time of Christ.
- Is the only place this “second additional tithe” or “third tithe” is mentioned? (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
Deuteronomy 14:28-29: V28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.
V29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.”
- They were to bring this tithe out of their houses, and they were to “lay it up within their gates” – that is an ancient Hebrew expression referring to the gates in the wall surrounding a city, not the gate of one’s private residence.
- But the other tithes they were to take out of their homes and bring them yearly to the place where God chose to put His name.
- This special “third tithe” – God’s insurance program – is for the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, and the handicapped Levite” – in other words, those having no means of support.