Should the Church Teach Tithing?

A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD




The widow was not tithing! Notice that NONE of the 13 treasury chests inside the Temple were for collecting tithes.

From: The Temple, Its Ministry and Services As They Were At the Time of Christ, Alfred Edersheim, D. D., Ph. D. died 1889, p48-49.


#1 thru #8 Mandatory Giving

#1 and #2 were for the half shekel Temple tribute.

#3: For women who had to bring doves [after their issues of blood and childbirth]. They dropped the equivalent in money and that many doves were offered daily. Mary used this when she met Simeon.

#4: Also received the value of the offerings of young pigeons.

#5: To buy the wood used in the Temple.

#6: To buy incense used in the Temple.

#7: To buy golden vessels for Temple ministry.

#8: For excess money after buying sin offerings.


#9 thru #13 Voluntary Giving

#9, #10, #11, #12, #13: For excess money after buying trespass offerings, offerings of birds, the offering of the Nazarite, of the cleansed leper and voluntary offerings.

(p379) “And it is remarkable that the law seemed to regard Israel as intended to be only an agricultural people — no contribution being provided for [tithes] from trade or merchandise.”


The Temple only had two small storerooms for holding the tithes for those priests who served one week at a time in rotation. It is completely absurd to teach that the Temple storerooms were large enough to hold the tithe from the entire nation. Hezekiah made that mistake in 2nd Chronicles 31:1-14 and was forced to re-ship the tithes back to the Levitical cities in 31:15-19.

Neh 13:5 [He] had prepared a large room for him, where formerly they put the grain offerings, the frankincense, the utensils and the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, the singers and the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.

Neh 13:8 It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the room.

Neh 13:9 Then I gave an order and they cleansed the rooms; and I returned there the utensils of the house of God with the grain offerings and the frankincense. NASU

None of the first whole Levitical tithes were brought to the Temple!  They were brought to the 48/13 Levitical cities where 98% of the Levites and priests lived and needed them for food per Joshua 20-21, Numbers 35, 1 Chron 6 and many other texts.

Neh 10:35 and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the LORD annually,


Num 10:36 and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God.


Neh 10:37 We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God


Neh 10:37b … and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns. NASU


This is hard to believe, but true. Only a very small part of the Levitical tithe ended up at the Temple. When the Levites and priests went up from the Levitical cities to minister for one week at a time they brought only what they needed for that week with them.

Neh 10:38 The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes [IN THE LEVITCAL CITIES], and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

Neh 10:39 For the sons of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of the grain, the new wine and the oil to the chambers; there are the utensils of the sanctuary, the priests who are ministering, the gatekeepers and the singers. Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.

In other words the people were never commanded to bring all the tithes to the Temple, therefore Malachi 3:10 must only refer to the priests who had removed the tithe as seen in Nehemiah 13:5-10. Only the Levites went home to get something to eat.

Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house …

Neh 13:10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.

7-20-2010: JOKE ABOUT THE WIDOW’S MITE:I am a retired widow. Thank you so much for taking on the controversial challenge of tithing. … There is nothing better than laying out the biblical explanation.

I was once in church when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to give all that I have.  When I looked in my wallet, I had the last $5 that was just in case I needed it until the end of the month.  So I gave it. The following Sunday, while the preacher was getting ready to call on the tithing, he specifically mentioned that $5 and said he felt like “some were simply tipping him.” Why I took that personally I will never know, but I was so hurt and angry by it that I left his church. Blessings to you, Judy L.