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In that year
1 Deut. xiv. 27.
forth all the tithe of thine increase. thou shalt lay it up in thy cities."1*
Selden and Michaelis also argue in the same direction, saying that a third tithe would be an excessive demand upon the income of a man who had already expended two-tenths of his increase. * 2 McClintock Peake likewise says: “It may be urged that it is verp: 434. not probable that a double tribute should be exacted from the crops.” And again :
And again : “Nor is it probable that a tax of nearly one-fifth of the whole produce should be imposed on the farmers."S
. On the other hand, as opposed to these con- tionary of the
Bible, I. p. 780. jectures, it may be observed :
That the Hebrew text nowhere says explicitly that the third tithe should be substituted for the second.
The injunction is several times repeated that · every male should go up to the festivals yearly ; but neither the third, sixth, seventh, or any other year is excepted.+
* In support of this opinion may be quoted the words of Maimonides : “On the third and sixth years from the sabbatical year, after they have separated the first tithe, they separate from what remains another tithe, and give it to the poor, and it is called the poor's tithe ; and not on those two years is the second tithe, but the poor's tithe.”—Gill on Deut. xiv. 28; Maimonides, Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 6, sect. 4. See also Speaker's Commentary on Deut. xiv. 28-9, and McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia, vol. x. p. 433.
+ Some (and Professor Drivero among them) have supposed that, 4 International as the land was not to be sown in the seventh year, no tithe would be paid (McClintock and Strong, vol. x. p. 435). But if so, how were eronomy, p. 168. the Levites during that year to live, unless a double or treble tithe was to be paid in the sixth year? And this the law had already provided for. If ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase. Then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years,” etc. (Lev. xxv. 20-2).
Critical Com mentary, Deut.
Besides, not going up to the festivals on the third, sixth, and seventh years would be attended with a further and practical difficulty : for if a man had sinned after returning, say, from the last feast of the fifth year, he would, under normal circumstances, be deprived of the opportunity of offering a sacrifice of expiation at the sanctuary until after an interval of two years.
Moreover, we have at least three witnesses of prominent rank for the third tithe being an addition to, and not a substitute for, the second tithe. The author of Tobit, for instance, when stating how he walked in the ways of truth and righteousness, notwithstanding the falling away of his father's family from God's command to sacrifice at Jerusalem, makes his subject say:
“I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it hath been ordained unto all Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and the tenths of mine increase, and that which was first shorn ; and I gave them at the altar to the priests, the sons of Aaron. The tenth part of all mine increase I gave to the sons of Levi, who ministered at Jerusalem : and the second tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it each year at Jerusalem: and the third I gave unto them for whom it was meet, as Deborah my father's mother had commanded me.” 1
The foregoing quotation is the revised English version from the Vatican codex; but the reading of the Sinaitic codex is still more noteworthy.*
1 Tobit i. 6-8.
* I translate this passage as follows:
Having the firstfruits, and the firstborn and the tithes of cattle, and the first shearing of the sheep, I proceeded to Jerusalem, and I gave them to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar; and the
Again, Josephus is quite clear as to a third tithe. He writes :
“Beside those two tithes which I have already said you are to pay every year, the one for the Levites, the other for the festivals, you are to bring every third year a tithe to be distributed to those that want; to women also that are widows, and to children that are orphans.” 1
1 Josephus, An
tiquities, bk. iv. After Josephus we have the testimony of Jerome, who, like the preceding two witnesses, lived in Palestine. He says one tithe was given to the Levites, out of which they gave a tenth to the priests; a second tithe was applied to festival purposes, and a third was given to the poor. And so, .. Comments evidently, Chrysostom understood, for he preaches : clintock and "What, then, did they (the Jews) give? A tenth of all their possessions, and another tenth, and after this a third [tenth],” etc.
Once more, for a modern opinion to the same purpose, may be instanced that of Dr. Pusey, late Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, who, preaching on Ash Wednesday, at
St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, is quoted thus :
The Pharisee "paid tithes of all which he possessed: a double tithe, you will recollect, one for God's priests, the
Strong, x. 434.
3 Homily lxiv. on Matt. xx. 27.
tenth of the wine, and of the corn, and of olive, and pomegranate, and the other fruit trees to the sons of Levi ministering in Jerusalem.
“And the second tithe I sold away for money during six years, and I used to go every year and spend it in Jerusalem. And I gave them [i.e. the tithes] to the orphans, and to the widows, and to the strangers living among the children of Israel. I brought in and I gave [the tithes] to them in the third year, and we ate them according to the ordinance ordained concerning them in the law of Moses, and according to the commandments which Deborah, the mother of Ananeel our father, commanded.
Strong, . .
3 See Gill on Deut. iv, 28.
other for the sacrifices, and yet another every third year for the poor : 45. 8d. in the pound he anyhow gave to God, not, as our custom is, underrating property for the poorrate, but a good 45. 8d. in the pound on the average of the
three years.” 1 Systematic Beneficence, p. 11.
In fact, I can find no authority in favour of this supposed triennial substitution of the third tithe for the second, until the twelfth century, when Maimonides says that the third and sixth years' second
tithe was shared between the poor and the Levites, 3 De Jur. Paup. i.e. that there was no third tithe. But even then Micčlintock and we have a contemporary rabbi of the same century
(Aben Ezra) who says: “ This was a third tithe, and did not excuse the second tithe." S
The reader, therefore, will judge concerning the plain statement of the law, supported by what we have seen was thought right by the author of the book of Tobit in perhaps the third century before Christ; and also at the time of Josephus (two or three centuries later, and when tithe-paying was still practised)," together with the testimony of Jerome (who lived in Palestine four centuries later, and may be presumed to have known how his contemporaries, at least among the Samaritans, were paying their tithes,) whether all this is not more likely to be true than a statement such as that of Maimonides, who, though buried in Palestine, yet flourished in Spain, but not until a thousand years after the Jewish nation had been dispersed.
As for the objection that a third tithe would be an excessive demand upon income, the late Sir Monier Williams, Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford,
4 See Sacred Tenth, pp. 79, 106.
2 Monier Wil. liams, Indian
3 1 Maccabees, X. 30.
having referred me to passages of Sanskrit law, especially the code of Manu, the oldest compendium of the laws of the Brahmans, pointed out that the usual proportion of produce taken by the king was a sixth part (as we have seen was the case in Egypt)," but that in times of necessity he might See Sacred take one-fourth of the crop.*
We may remember also that, in the time of the Wisdom, p. 264. Maccabees, the inhabitants of Judea seem to have been taxed to the extent of one-third of their seed and half of their fruit.
For modern illustrations I would observe, that on my first visit to Bokhara, in 1882, I asked about taxes, and received widely divergent answers in different parts of the Khanate. At one place they said that out of ten batmans of harvest they paid eight (or four-fifths) for taxes; and at another, four (or a half); and that, as a matter of fact, the beks took more and more, and as much as they pleased." klusnade l'entral
Again, in 1894, when travelling through most of Asik, vol. ii. the large towns of Italy, I was told more than once that the taxes then being levied upon the people amounted to at least 20 per cent. of their incomes. Given, then, a conscientious Italian paying 20 per cent. of his income to the State, and, as expected by the Council of Trent,' another tithe, or 10 per Session xxv. cent., to his church, and these demands, united, would be a heavier claim upon income than the three tithes of the law. Moreover, if Josephus could enjoin the Jews to pay three tithes for their own religion, when they were paying also taxes to the Romans, much more might the Mosaic law