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The Rich Should Tithe

Some time back I was doing word searches related to the word tithe and came across an interesting find. Before I get into that, I want to give my opinions on tithing and giving.

In simple terms, as a New Testament believer, our best guide for giving is related to what Paul told the Corinthians:

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

We should give from a loving, agapē heart, as we are led by the Lord.

But it is impossible to consider giving or tithing without examining the Old Testament for instruction on this subject. In the Mosaic Law, God instructed the Israelites to tithe, or give a tenth. See Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:26 and Deuteronomy 14:22-23; there are more examples that follow in the OT.

What is interesting is in Genesis, where Abram gave a tithe to Melchizedek after Abram rescued Lot from aggressors:

…“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Genesis 14:19-20

This account is before the Mosaic Law was instituted, yet the tithe was already a part of God’s plan for honoring Him (animal sacrifices were also pre-Mosaic Law). This account of tithing applies to giving to God, in that Melchizedek is an obvious type of foreshadow of Christ and thus God.

In general terms, we are to follow the Spirit’s lead today, who lives inside of us, as to how much to give, whom to give it to, when, gross vs. net, etc. There are no hard bounds to follow. But a good starting point is a tithe, a tenth of what we earn or have, using the first instances of materially honoring God in the Bible as our guide. Perhaps your “cheerful” giving would lead you to exceeding the tenth; perhaps a tenth isn’t wholly possible for you now. Again, seek the Spirit of God sincerely, and He will direct your course in this and in all ways.

Back to my interesting find… the word tithe in an action sense (a verb) means to give or take a tenth, and is Strong’s number H6237. The word is transliterated as `asar and looks like this עָשַׂר in the original Hebrew. The next word in Strong’s sequence, H6238, is the word `ashar (עָשַׁר), a verb, which means to become rich. This is followed by a similar word, Strong’s H6239, `osher (עֹשֶׁר), a masculine noun which means riches (its root is H6238). Consider the words in Hebrew and note they are almost indistinguishable from one another.

  • H6237, עָשַׂר (`asar….. to tithe)
  • H6238, עָשַׁר (`ashar… to become rich)
  • H6239, עֹשֶׁר (`osher… riches)

I find it very interesting that God would make the words for becoming rich and to tithe so similar! It seems to me that He did this purposefully, as a type of reminder to give back to God a small part of what was already His as He blesses you from His abundance. This is not apparent in the transliterated wording, but the Strong’s sequence brings this out nicely for us to consider in the Hebrew, without being Hebrew scholars. 

Yes, the rich should “tithe”. And today, believers should purpose in their hearts to honor God with cheerful giving!