Sidor som bilder

services, as restored by Ezra and Nehemiah, were continued under a regular priesthood, which suggests payment in the form of tithes and offerings from the people. The laws of the Pentateuch are still recognized as the standard of right giving. Seleucus and Heliodorus, like the kings of Babylon, contribute to the Jewish temple. Tobit is represented as paying three tithes, and Judith as dedicating her spoils of war; and all this is in harmony with the canonical books of the Old Testament.

Moreover, the Apocrypha rises to a still higher platform in the enunciation of lofty principles concerning almsgiving in general ; for abundant, discriminating, proportionate giving of alms, accompanied with prayer and fasting, is strongly urged upon all. He who would keep the law is instructed to multiply offerings, none appearing in the presence of God empty-handed. The reasons given, are, that alms are pleasing to God; that, when rightly offered, they deliver from death, and purge away sin. Also, it is promised, as leading to temporal prosperity, that the Lord will recompense the liberal giver sevenfold. He is exhorted, accordingly, in every gift to show a cheerful countenance, and to dedicate his tithes with gladness.




The Talmud : Mishna and Gemara, 87.—Divisions and translations

of Mishna, 88.—Book VII., on first tithe, regulates what is to be tithed, and when, 88.—Tithing applied to business transactions, 89.—Tithing cooked fruit, transplanted vegetables, and anthills, 91.—Rules concerning the second tithe, 92.- Not to be exchanged, nor coins for it reckoned common, 93.—Redemption of the second tithe, 95.-Second tithe in relation to reciting Mosaic formula, 96.


ROM the Talmud we get not only fuller and

more detailed ideas of tithe-paying during the period between the Old and New Testaments, but we learn also how this practice was affecting the daily life of a religious Jew when Christianity appeared.

The Talmud contains the spoken or traditional law of the Jews, as distinguished from their law written. It is said by the Jews, that when God gave the written law on Mount Sinai, He delivered also to Moses, a number of precepts and explanations thereon, which were handed down by word of mouth to Joshua, to the seventy elders, to the men of the great synagogue, and so on to the great rabbis of a later period.

Whatever of truth there may be in this tradition,

it is well known that much activity was manifested in collecting precepts and decisions about the law, with comments thereon by the rabbis, in the days of the Maccabees, or, say, the second century before the Christian era, though it was not until the second century after Christ, that the rabbinical rules, interpretations, and decisions, some four thousand in number, were codified and arranged according to subjects, as we have them now.

The Talmud consists of a text called the Mishna, with comments called Gemara. The first division of the Mishna is on “Seeds,” or matters relating to agriculture, of which the third, seventh, and eighth books respectively treat of doubtful matters connected with tithing; with the first or tithe proper, and with the second tithe. *

In Book VII.,' on Maaseroth, or the first tithe, we find it stated as follows:

“This general rule has been handed down about the tithe : whatever serves for food, is worth keeping, and grows out of the ground, is subject to tithe: and another rule handed down is, that whatever is eatable at the beginning, as well as when fully grown, although customarily kept till it is mature, is subject to tithes, be it small or grown large. But when, in its early stages it is not an ordinary article of food, but becomes so later, it is not subject to tithe until fit to be eaten."

1 Chap. I. sect. 1.

Section 2 determines from what time fruit becomes

* The Mishna has been translated into Latin by Surenhusius, and into French by Schwab. Both are before me ; but I shall attempt to translate, or in some cases to give the gist of, such sections only as are likely to serve our purpose in illustrating Jewish opinion and practice concerning tithe-paying.

subject to tithe : for instance, figs, when they begin to ripen ; grapes, when transparent; and mulberries, when they turn red, etc. The next section settles similar questions respecting black fruit generally ; whilst section 4 names the time for tithing green vegetables, such as gourds, cucumbers, melons, etc.

Sections 5-7 determine at what moment fruits are considered as gathered or harvested, and so tithable. For gourds and cucumbers it is when the down, or bloom, has gone off, or, this indication failing, when they are collected in heaps. Vegetables which are sold in bundles are tithable when packed and covered up. Dried pomegranates and raisins are tithable when heaped up; onions when they peel ; corn when gathered ; and wine when the froth of fermentation has risen.

Chapter II. ` lays down, that if a man suspected 1 Sects. 1-3. of not paying his tithes offer figs in a public place, one may eat them ; but if brought to the house, they must be tithed.

Again, if persons seated before a door or shop offer figs, they may be eaten without scruple; but the proprietor himself, seated at home, must pay tithe for what he has gathered. Also, if one is carrying fruits from Galilee to Judea, for instance, or if one is going up to Jerusalem, he may eat of them on the road up to his destination, or on his return; and hawkers who sell in the towns may eat of their fruits up to the place where they spend the night, but then they must pay tithe.

Sections 4-8 set forth that when one says to another, “ Take this penny (or Roman as] and give

[ocr errors][merged small]

me five figs,” they must not be eaten unless tithed;
but that a man, if giving a penny to be allowed to
select ten figs, may choose and consume them one
by one without tithing. In the case of workmen
employed in the field, it is a general rule that when
the law allows eating, the tithe is waived, but not
otherwise. Again, if figs for different purposes are
exchanged for each other, tithe must be paid.
Rabbi Judah says, however, if they exchange figs
that can be readily eaten, they must be tithed,
but not if they are under process of drying.

Chapter III.' provides that when figs are placed
in a court-yard to dry, all the owner's family and
his servants not on board wages, may eat without
tithing ; but if food is part of the servants' wages,
they are not to eat (without tithing]. So, if a man
working amongst olive-trees eat olives one by one,
he need not tithe ; but must do so if he collects
a number of olives. Similarly, if engaged to weed
onions, and the workman bargain that he may eat
the green leaves, he may pluck them singly and
eat; but if he gather them into a bundle, he must

1 Sects. 1, 3, 7-10.

pay tithe.

Products placed on watch-towers, sheds, and summer-houses are exempted from paying tithes.

If a fig-tree is planted in a court-yard, one may eat now and then without tithing; but if one gather several figs, they must be tithed. So, again, if a fig-tree planted in the yard leans toward the garden, one may eat without restriction ; but if the tree stands in the garden and leans toward the courtyard, the figs may be eaten one by one

« FöregåendeFortsätt »