Sidor som bilder

When the time came for the dedication of the temple, the Ark was brought to its place, with sacrifices innumerable of sheep and oxen,' after 1, Kingsviii. s. which Solomon and the people offered to the Lord twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep, holding a feast for all Israel during fourteen days.” to: After this we find Solomon, “after a certain rate.” every day offering, according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year.” ::::::::: We may now, therefore, consider the worship” of Jehovah fully established and carried out according to the law of the Pentateuch. But from the entrance of the people into Canaan to the reign of Solomon—a space of nearly five hundred years— we have found nothing specifically mentioned about tithes. Samuel came very near to the word when, the Israelites having asked for a king, the prophet warned them “he will take the tenth of your seed, . . . he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants.”” on wi Hence, certain writers have imagined that some of the kings took for themselves the Levites' tithes. But the scripture does not say so. Solomon indeed raised a levy out of all Israel of two hundred and sixteen thousand men who were foreigners and not of the children of Israel,” and if for the support :::::::::::on. of these two hundred and sixteen thousand work-"“” men an extra tenth were imposed, in addition to the Mosaic tenths that would undoubtedly be claimed by the two hundred thousand Levitical

1 1 Kings xii. 4.

persons, we can understand the people coming to Solomon's son and saying, “Thy father made our yoke grievous.” " But we never read that the payment of Mosaic tithes and offerings was an undue burden. On the contrary, and speaking generally, we may say that the more closely God's law was kept the more prosperous were the people.


Working of tithe-laws during two further periods: III. Under Judah and Israel, 63.—Reformations under Asa and Jehoshaphat, 64. —Giving in the times of Elijah and Elisha, 64.—Church repairs under Joash, 66.-Amos on Israel's tithes, 67.-Hezekiah's restoration of Passover, tithe-paying, and firstfruits, 68.-Temple repairs and offerings under Josiah, 70.-IV. After the Captivity, 71.—Offerings from Cyrus, 71.—Rebuilding and presents to Temple under Ezra, 72.—Malachi's “robbery” for withholding tithes, 73.-Nehemiah's offering, and the people's oath concerning tithes, 73.—Tithing organized, 74.—Review of tithing from Joshua to Malachi, 75.

E have now reached the high-water mark of religious giving in the Old Testament; and our next period, under the rival kings of Judah and Israel, is a period of declension, though retarded from time to time by temporary endeavours at reformation. The schismatical Jeroboam found it politic to imitate the law of Moses in ordaining a feast like that held in Judah, and in sacrificing and placing priests at Bethel.” When, however, his own son 1. Kings ii. s. was ill, he sent to inquire of the prophet Ahijah, at Shiloh, by his wife, who, in disguise, took as a present ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of

honey’: a suitable religious offering, presumably, King, iv. 3.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

at that time for a well-to-do woman of the
A little later, in Asa, king of Judah, we have a
godly man, to whom is vouchsafed victory over the
Ethiopians, and thereby much spoil:
“And they sacrified unto the Lord in that day, of the
spoil which they had brought, 7OO oxen and 7,000 sheep.
. . . And Asa brought into the house of God the things

that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.””

This, however, was of the nature of a reformation; for Azariah, the son of Oded, reminded Asa that for a long season Israel had been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.” Furthermore, a similar work of reformation was carried on by Jehoshaphat his successor, who sent out teaching princes, Levites, and priests. “And they taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them,” so that “the fear of Jehovah fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah.””

This brings us to the days of Elijah and Elisha, in connection with whom we have several instances of pious beneficence in private life. Foremost among them is the widow of Zarephath, who had but a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a cruse, but who, nevertheless, made thereof, first, a cake for the Lord's prophet.*

Then follows the case of the godly Obadiah, who, although connected with Ahab's heathenish court, yet feared Jehovah greatly, and took a hundred prophets, persecuted by Jezebel, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.' We also read in the same chapter of 1 Kings ovii. the sacrifice of bullocks to Baal and to Jehovah, respectively, on Mount Carmel.” 3 1 Kings xviii. As for Elisha, we remember the kind hospitality afforded him, as a man of God, by the woman of Shunem, who prepared for him a little chamber on the wall.” It seems also to have been customary 3 2Kingsiv.3.10. for the people to bring offerings to Elisha: for “there came a man from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of corn,” with which Elisha furnished a meal for the people.” 1, 2 Kings iv. 42. The present which Naaman brought to Elisha was evidently intended to be a valuable one, consisting, as it did, of robes and talents of silver— a typical acknowledgment of expected help from the prophet in the cure of leprosy.” Benhadados” also, when sending Hazael to inquire whether his master would recover of his sickness, sent forty camel-loads of every good thing of Damascus." ionoviii. The last-mentioned two instances of religious offering are by Gentiles from outside the land of Israel. Another instance of religious dedication is that of Mesha, king of Moab, who, in a beleaguered city, took his eldest son and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall.” Again, the prophet 72 Kings iii. 27. Jonah is thought to have lived about this time; and if so, the proposal to offer to the gods their passenger as a sacrifice, by casting him overboard, would not be an abnormal or strange notion to

« FöregåendeFortsätt »