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D'varim/Deuteronomy 26:12 When you will have finished tithing all the tithe of your produce
Here we see a favourite technique in Biblical Hebrew, the joining of a verb form and a noun form from the same root to emphasise what is happening. In this case, the root is , which means to give or take the tenth part, so that the verb sense is simply "to tithe the tithe". It is preceded by the verb , which is the Piel, Prefix, 2ms form of the root , which means to complete, finish or end.Rashi spends some time commenting on the exact time that the tithe is to be taken and the declaration of completeness specified in the following verses is to be made. He misses one important point however: the tithe is to be complete. This works two ways: firstly, the full amount of the tithe is to be given to G-d in the persons of the Levites and the vulnerable in society, the orphans and widows; secondly, the giving of the tithe is finite - it has an end-point and when it is given, it is finished.
The Psalmist speaks about the man who fears the L-rd: "Happy is the man who fears the L-rd ... he is gracious, compassionate and beneficent. All goes well with the man who lends generously ... he shall never be shaken ... He gives generously to the poor; his beneficence lasts forever; his horn is exalted in honour" (Tehilim 112:1,4-5,6,9, JPS). Not only has this man "tithed the tithe" but he has gone beyond that by both lending and giving money (or material) to the poor; to those who cannot repay. Yeshua said, "when you have a party, invite poor people, disfigured people, the crippled, the blind! How blessed you will be that they have nothing with which to repay you!" (Luke 14:13-14, CJB). Giving and lending in the Kingdom of G-d is about more than meeting targets or quotas, it is about investing in the Kingdom, lifting the burden of the poor and helping those in need. Rav Sha'ul wrote, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Galatians 6:10, NASB).
We have probably all been in a meeting at some time when the leader has made an appeal for money for some worthy cause and after urging generosity, has asked the ushers/stewards to pass a basket or bag among the people - and our heart falls. Sometimes this kind of behaviour is quite manipulative and that is entirely inappropriate in the body of Messiah. That is why Rav Sha'ul writes, "Each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion" (2 Corinthians 9:7, CJB). All our money, property and assets belong to G-d and we hold it on trust as stewards. We must pass on those funds as He directs, but as with the tithe, it has an end and when He says 'Stop!' we must stop and feel at peace.
Further Study: Ya'akov 1:27; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Application: Have you felt guilty or resentful when "voluntary" offerings have been taken up and felt obliged to contribute beyond your means or desire? Ask G-d what He would have you give, or not give, and be at rest when you know that you have discharged the obligation that He has laid upon your heart.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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