« FöregåendeFortsätt »
require three tithes under the theocracy, especially as the payment of these procured to the Israelite not a few of the judicial, educational, and social benefits for which other nations now pay taxes.
It would seem, then, that the Mosaic law enjoined upon the Israelite to pay yearly, in connection with his religion, two-tenths, and, at the end of three years, a third tenth, of his income.
Other fixed claims on Israelites ; corners, gleanings, firstfruits, the
firstborn, and seventh year debtors, 37.--Freewill offerings
ESIDES three tithes, properly so-called, the
Pentateuch imposed other fixed claims, both annual and occasional. Thus the Israelite was commanded:
“When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger.” 1
“When thou reapest thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it : it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shall not go over the boughs again. ... When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not
1 Lev. xix.
1 Deut. xxiv.
tion of O. and N.T., Lev. xix.9.
glean it after thee; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.” 1
From the foregoing we learn that, at the time of fruit-gathering, the owner was to leave for the needy, fallen fruit, overlooked olives, and small bunches of grapes; whilst in the harvest field he was not to care for forgotten bundles nor gleanings (that is, ears of corn dropped from the hands of the reaper); and the corners of his fields he was not even to cut.
How large the corners thus left were to be, the Mosaic law does not specify ; but as a matter of practice we learn, in later years, from a chapter
on “the corner" in the Mishna, that “they do not 2. Gill's Exposi- leave less than a sixtieth part” of the whole.'
Another annual claim upon the Israelite was that of his firstfruits ; and although the law, again, does not define the amount of the offering, it is instructive to notice how Maimonides asks concerning the quantity to be brought, “What measure do the wise men set?” which he answers, saying, “ A good eye [or a bountiful man] brings one of forty; a middling one [one that is neither liberal nor niggardly] brings one of fifty (or the fiftieth part] ; and an evil one
[a covetous man] one of sixty (or the sixtieth part] ; 3 Gill on Exod. but never less than that." S Another authority,
referring to the Mishna and its chapter on firstfruits, names one-fiftieth of the produce."
But besides the firstfruits to be offered annually, the law enjoined certain charges to be paid occasionally. Thus:
Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth
See McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia, article “ Tithe," vol. x. p. 434.
1 Exod. xiii.
% Deut. xviii. 16-17.
the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast; it is Mine."
The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam ; on the eighth day thou shalt give it Me." 1
The firstborn of man was to be redeemed by payment of five shekels ;* and the firstlings of unclean animals were to be redeemed also. The firstling, however, of a cow, a sheep, or a goat might not be redeemed; but it was brought to the altar, and the flesh, after being offered to God, became the property of the priest.*
Another fixed charge was made at the time of the census in the wilderness to the amount of half a shekel. The rich were not to give more, nor the poor less. Also the law prescribed that when the 3 Exod. xxx. Israelite should plant a fruit tree, the fruit for three years was to be regarded as unclean, and not to be eaten ; whilst in the fourth year the fruit was
4 Lev, xix. 23-24. to be set apart for giving praise to Jehovah.“
* This is still observed, apparently, among modern Jews in Lemberg. Mr. Israel Sunlight, an ex-rabbi of my acquaintance (and who was kind enough to read over what I have hereafter written about Talmudic teaching on tithes), writes thus: “At the beginning of the month I was invited to be present at a unique ceremony, the redeeming of the firstborn"; and he continues, in short, as follows: The parents present the child to the cohen (or priest), who takes it in his arms, and then asks them whether they wish him to keep the child, or whether they would rather redeem it for the sum of five shekels (about twelve shillings). The parents, of course, take the latter alternative, and pay down the redemption money: whereupon the priest pronounces his blessing upon the child, and hands it back to its parents (Jewish Missionary Intelligencer, March, 1903, p. 43).
Moreover, the seventh year was to be a year of release, when every creditor was to refrain from enforcing re-payment for that which he had lent to his neighbour :
“Beware that there be not a base thought in thine heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand ; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou
give him nought: and he cry unto the Lord against thee, 1 Deut. xv. 1-2,9. and it be sin unto thee.” 1
Such, then, were the fixed deductions, annual or occasional, laid by the Mosaic law upon an Israelite's increase, the discharge of which was a duty and the withholding a sin.
Besides the foregoing, it was enjoined for the Feast of Weeks:
“Thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give, according as the Lord thy God blesseth thee : and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are in the midst of thee, in the place which
the Lord thy God shall choose to cause His name to dwell 2 Deut. xvi. 10 there." %
The nature and amount of the freewill offering is here left to the liberality of the giver; and this seems to be the only one of the feasts held at the metropolis to which the stranger, fatherless, and widow are expressly named as persons to be invited. But the law contemplated other offerings also, the bringing of which was not obligatory, but which God expressed His willingness to accept from any of His