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2 Luke xiv. 25-6
two other occasions, on one of which our Lord called the people unto Him with His disciples, and said to them all, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,” 1 a saying that was afterwards 1 Matt. xvi. 24. repeated with even more stringent conditions when there went great multitudes with Jesus, and He turned and said unto them, “ If any man cometh unto Me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
It follows, then, that if a man is required to give up, when necessary, such persons and things as are by an ordinary person most valued of all, a man's money may not be excepted from this general surrender. Matthew, at all events, did not treat such terms as merely figurative, when, called by the Lord Jesus, “ he left all, rose up, and followed
. But, it may be asked, did not our Lord denounce the Pharisees? The reply is, “Yes, on several grounds, but not as regards their tithe-paying.” When they rejected a plain command of God such as to honour father and mother, and quoted a traditional interpretation which allowed a man to escape from this duty as such by saying that his money was Corban (or a gift to God), this, Christ pointed out, was making void the word of God by reducing what was a matter of obligation to one of free will.
In view of such perversions of scripture as this,
3 Luke v. 28.
1 Luke xii, 1.
2 Luke xviii. 12.
4 Mishna, Maaseroth, ch. iv. sect. 6
Jesus bade His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But no disapproval was expressed with the Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, because he said, “I give tithes of all that I possess.”S His fault lay in trusting in himself that he was righteous, and in his contempt for others.
So again, in that chapter of repeated woes, one of them reads : “Woe unto you scribes and Phari
sees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, 3 Matt. xxiii. 23. and cummin,”: which is in keeping with the Mishna,
wherein Rabbi Simeon, son of Gamaliel, was of opinion that little buds or sprays of fennel and
mustard were liable to tithe.“ Schwab, vol. iii.
But what then? Did the Lord disapprove of this minute tithing? Far from it, for He expressed approval, and said, “ These ought ye to have done.” Besides which, it should be remembered that the eight woes pronounced upon these religionists, are prefaced by the Lord's own statement ; “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you
observe, 5 Matt. xxiii. 2-3. that observe and do.” 5
Here then, certainly, is expressed our Lord's approval of tithe-paying, and, up to a certain point, of the teaching of the Pharisees thereon, even when that teaching seems to have been coloured with rabbinical interpretations such as could not be so minutely deduced from the laws of the Pentateuch only.
We do well further to remember, that our Lord was conversant with certain, at least, of the traditions
1 Mark ii. 7,
now found in the Mishna, for He sometimes used its arguments in vindication of His conduct and teaching, as, for instance, when His disciples on the Sabbath plucked ears of corn and rubbed them in their hands, Jesus rebutted the charge brought against them by quoting a maxim of the Pharisees, ** The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” 1
Amongst a class of men such as the .Pharisees, McClintock viii. possessing such wide divergences of character and views,* our Lord undoubtedly had many enemies; but there must have been some of them with whom He had much in common, and who were friendly, for we are told that certain of the Pharisees (and these seemingly with goodwill) came to warn Him “Get Thee out, and depart hence, for Herod will kill Thee." ,
We know, too, that Jesus accepted hospitality, as we have already noticed, from a Pharisee, eating with one at Nain, and afterwards entering the 3 Luke vii. 36. house of one of their chiefs to eat bread on the Sabbath.” Besides these instances, we may reason- 4 Luke xiv. I.
2 Luke xiii. 31.
The Talmud says there were seven varieties of Pharisees: (1) The Shechemite Pharisee, who kept the law for what he could profit thereby. (2) The tumbling Pharisee, who hung down his head with feigned humility and frequently stumbled. (3) The bleeding Pharisee, who, in order not to look on a woman, closed his eyes, and so sometimes injured himself even to incurring bleeding wounds. (4) The Pharisee who wore a mortar-shaped cap to cover his eyes from beholding impurity. (5) The what-am-1-yet-to-do Pharisee, who, not knowing much of the law, and having done one thing, asked, “What next ?" (6) The Pharisee impelled by fear. (7) The Pharisee actuated by love, who obeyed the Lord because he loved m with all his heart (McClintock, viii. 72, referring to Mishna-Babylon; Sota, 221: Jerusalem, Berachoth, cap. ix.).
50; xix. 39.
2 Luke xi. 41.
ably suppose that our Lord was on intimate terms
with Nicodemus, who was a man of the Pharisees, 1 John ii. 1; vii. a ruler of the Jews.'
These remarks, then, may suggest, in relation to our subject of tithe-paying, that it was in matters of conduct, rather than of principle, that Jesus found so much to criticize in dealing with the Pharisees. The Pharisee who invited our Lord to dine was surprised that Jesus did not first wash, as no doubt the host himself had done, after having seen that what he was about to eat had been duly tithed. But the Lord said : “Rather give alms as you are able, and behold all things are clean unto you.”
But, passing now from the Pharisees, and our Lord's teaching in connection with them, we may notice three persons, all of them large givers in proportion to their incomes, who offered to God more than the utmost requirement of the law as to tithes, and each of whom was specially commended by Christ. It looks at first somewhat hard that the poor widow of Sarepta, who possessed only a handful of meal and a little oil in a cruse, should have been called upon to contribute to the support of the Lord's prophet ; but she gave largely, and
Jesus commended her as having received greater 3 1 Kings xvii. 12. honour than all the widows who were in Israel.
Again, the crowds called Zaccheus the publican
* I have wondered whether our Lord had this Pharisaic tithing in mind when, after a warning against covetousness, and uttering the parable of the rich fool, Jesus added : “Seek not ye what
ye or what ye shall drink, neither be of doubtful mind "[that is as to tithing], but rather "sell that ye have and give alms” (Luke xii. 15, 28-9, 33).
1 Luke xix. 9.
"a sinner." But even if he were an Am-ha-areta, and not instructed in rabbinical tithing, he nevertheless gave half of his income to the poor, and the Lord Jesus called him “a son of Abraham,” and was a guest in his house."
Yet another instance. When the Lord sat over against the treasury, and afterwards commended a certain poor widow who cast two mites therein, it was not because she paid her tenth (as did many of the rich, no doubt), nor because she paid a fourth (as the covetous Pharisees would do), neither because her demai, or doubtful tithe, had been paid, nor because (Zaccheus-like) she gave a half, but rather because she cast in all that she had, even all her living.
How, then, shall we summarize these remarks on tithes and offerings in the days of our Lord, and His relation thereto?
All must allow that tithe-paying was enjoined upon the Jews, by God, in the law; and we all contend that Jesus Christ, as a Jew, kept that law to the letter ; therefore the inference seems inevitable (and we have found not a tittle of evidence to the contrary) that the Lord Jesus Himself paid tithes. * Nor does He appear to have expected less than this of His disciples. He knew perfectly well that a Pharisee was called upon to spend some
% Mark xii. 42.
Here, of course, we cannot dogmatize, for we do not know what means of livelihood our Lord had at His disposal. But even if we think of Him as dependent on alms, we may remember that the Demai chapter of the Mishna directs that the poor man who received pieces of bread, or fragments of fig-cake, should tithe each piece separately. See p. 101.