« FöregåendeFortsätt »
inspiration of the God of Israel, of whom Jews and Christians alike believe that He never yet made a law that was unjust or unwise, or that did not tend to His people's happiness. If, then, God has given laws upon tithe-paying, they are sure to be worthy of at least our respectful study, and we accordingly proceed to examine, so far as our data enable us, the working of these laws among the Israelites, from their entrance into Canaan down to the close of Old Testament history.
FROM JOSHUA TO SOLOMON
Working of tithe laws during two periods, 52.-I. Under Joshua and
Judges, 53.—The law established under Joshua, 53.—Lawlessness under Judges, 54.—Returns to Jehovah under Jephthah, Eli, and Samuel, 55.-II. Under the monarchies, 57.–Saul's offer. ings of spoils, 58.-David anointed king, 58.-Ark brought to Jerusalem, and Levites reorganized, 59.—David's accumulated offerings, 59.-Solomon's dedication of the temple, and his offerings, 61.- Tithes under Israel's monarchs, 61.
AVING studied the laws of the Pentateuch
concerning tithes and offerings, we proceed to inquire what further light may be obtained upon tithe-paying from the working of these laws during the period covered by the rest of the Old Testament, taking the books in the generally received order. This period may be conveniently divided into four parts, beginning with the settlement of Canaan under Joshua and the Judges, and taking next the monarchy under Saul, David, and Solomon. A third era begins with the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which may be followed by the re-settlement of the land after the Babylonian captivity.
As in previous chapters, let us search diligently for passages concerning firstfruits, presents, and
dues to priests; for sacrifices, and instances of the offering of material things to God; as well as for examples of private beneficence in general, so that, in the absence of actual mention of tithes, we may see what can be inferred respecting them, as also concerning religious giving, and non-prescribed benevolence generally.
3 Josh. viii. 35.
After crossing the Jordan, Joshua at once put in force the laws concerning circumcision and the observance of the Passover. Also, on coming 1 Josh. v. to Mount Ebal, he built an altar unto Jehovah, offered burnt offerings, sacrificed peace offerings,' 2 Josh. viii. 30-2. and wrote on the stones, in the presence of the people, a copy of the law of Moses. .." There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.”S
Joshua read therefore all that was commanded about tithes; and, seeing that the only means of support of many thousands of Levites with their families was dependent on these contributions, we cannot suppose that this item of the law was permitted to remain a dead letter. Nor, indeed, were the Levites slow to claim their rights, for they came to Joshua at Shiloh, saying: “The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle”;' and if they thus put in their claim for a Losban xxi. 1:2; places to dwell in, which was allowed to the extent of forty-eight cities, it is not likely they would have
failed, had there been need, to ask for their tithes also.
As for other kinds of offerings, when Joshua was directed to divide the land, it is expressly mentioned that “only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none
inheritance; the offerings of the Lord, the God 1 Josh. xiii. 7-14. of Israel, made by fire are his inheritance.” 1
Under the Judges we have an unsettled time, both politically and religiously.
" There was no king in Israel ; every man did that which was right 2 Judg. xvii. 6. in his own eyes. The priesthood no doubt
suffered in common with others from this lawlessness, as indicated, perhaps, by the young Levite departing from Bethlehem-Judah to sojourn where he could find a place, and on coming to Mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, was content to remain there for food, clothing, and shelter,
coupled with the annual pittance of ten shekels S Judg. xvii. 8, of silver.S
Again, the foul treatment, at Gibeah, of a Levite and his concubine shows the men of Benjamin to have sunk at this period to a very degraded condition. Nevertheless, we observe indications both here and throughout the book of Judges, that the worship of Jehovah was still maintained ; for when an angel came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and reproved the Israelites for not throwing down
the altars of the inhabitants of the land, we read 4 Judg. ii. 2-5. that the people wept and sacrificed to Jehovah.“
Also, when, under the oppression of the Midianites, some of the people fell away to Amorite gods, we find Gideon building an altar, calling it Jehovah
1 Judg. vi. 10, 28.
% Judg. xi. 31.
he Judg. xvi. 23.
Shalom, and offering thereon the bullock of the altar of Baal.1
Next we have Jephthah delivering Israel, after making a vow to his God that whatever might come forth out of the doors of his house to meet him on his return from victory, should be devoted to Jehovah, and offered as a burnt offering."
So, too, when Israel was oppressed by the Philistines, and Samson was to be raised up from the house of Manoah, it was to Jehovah that Manoah presented his burnt offering ; : just as when Samson, 8 Judg. xii. 16. having fallen into the enemy's hands, the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice, and to rejoice before their god Dagon.“
Further, when Israel was collected from Dan even to Beersheba to punish the Benjamites for their wrongdoing at Gibeah, to the Levite and his concubine, the people gathered as one man before Jehovah in Mizpeh ; the tribes presented themselves, we read, in the assembly of the people of God. And when the punitive force sent against 6 Judg. XX. 1-2. Gibeah was twice repulsed, the people came to the house of God, wept, fasted, offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and inquired of Jehovah before the Ark of the Covenant, by Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, who stood before it in those days.
Once more, when Gibeah had fallen, and wives were lacking to the surviving Benjamites, the people rose early, came to the house of God, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, whilst the closing scene of the book of Judges shows us,
6 Judg. XX. 26-7.