On the website: "Hebrew Nations" the 'two-tithes' proposition is outlined:

The Two Tithes

The Tribe of Levi was divided into 2 major sections, Cohens (Priests) and Levites. The First Tithe was divided between Cohens and Levites. The Cohens had to receive a first portion of the grain, wine, and olive oil harvests. These comprised the staple foods at the time. "The first of your grain, wine and oil... you shall give him" (Deuteronomy 18:4). A tithe (a tenth) of the remainder was to be given to the Levites, as it says "And to the children of Levi I have given all tithes in Israel... (Numbers 18:21,24).

A Second Tithe of the remainder is to be set aside. In the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th years of the Sabbatical Cycle it is to be eaten in Jerusalem (or to be redeemed and the proceeds spent for food to be eaten in Jerusalem), as it says "You shall tithe all the produce of your crops... and shall eat before Ha-Shem your G-d in the place that he shall choose" (Leviticus 27:30-31, Deuteronomy 14:22-23). In other (3rd and 6th) years this tithe is given to the poor and Levites (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 26:12).".

The "two-tithes" view is also explained in the Wikipedia article: "Poor tithe",

The early rabbis, the Tannaim and Amoraim, understood these texts as describing two separate tithes: the first tithe to be given to the Levites and the second tithe, in Leviticus 27:30, to be kept by its owner and to be eaten in Jerusalem, except in the third and sixth years of the sabbatical cycle, when instead of separating the second tithe, the poor tithe was separated and given to the poor. The medieval commentator Rashi also interprets Deuteronomy 26:12 as referring to the third year, when the first tithe was given to the Levite and the poor tithe was given to "the stranger, the orphan, and the widow".

The 'one-tithe' view, on the other hand, is outlined in the article: "The Levites Place in Society", ("The Tithing Dilemma", chapter 8):

"Many people have not realized that Moses gave the Levites the means by which to earn a living without having a dependence upon tithe alone. Other than the tithe of the third and sixth years of a sabbatical cycle, the only Levites that received tithe were those who attended the service of the Tabernacle".

"A part of their tithe even went to support a type of social security service every third and sixth year for the destitute".

Which of the two views is the correct one? And, please, also explain why that is so.

  • I don't think I understand what "A Second Tithe of the remainder", in the second highlighted paragraph, means? Does it mean "A second tithe of the remaining 90%"? Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 10:54
  • Likewise, in the first highlighted paragraph, it says: "A tithe (a tenth) of the remainder was to be given to the Levites". I don't understand this either. I don't understand what the "reminder" is here. And I find the wording in the paragraph strange. Doesn't the Bible say that the Levites had to give ten percent of their received tithe to the Priests. It looks here like the other way around. Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 12:07

4 Answers 4


@Constantthin.....--- Your question has already been answered by scholars. So, Im not going to reproduce lengthy papers here. Instead, please look for the following paper online (yes, it's accessible):

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research Volume: BBR 16:1 (NA 2006) Article: “Will a Man Rob God?” (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Here is my summary :

1- In the Pre-Mosaic Law (in the Patriarchal era [Abram/Abraham - Jacob]), there is not tithing system. There were tithing occasions (e.g. Abram with Melchizedek), but no systematic tithing system. It was not obligatory, it was voluntary and based on customs of the ANE. 2- In the Mosaic Law (Levites / Deut.), there were three tithes, not just one. There was a tithe for the Levites because they worked between the People and God (they serviced) and to sustain the sacrifices and temple, and some of that went to the Priests. There was a festival tithe, which people used for the festival itself to pay for it, so to speak (my own words here). Also, there was a Poor Tithe, which was offered every 3 years for Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows. But, again, it was only every 3 years. So, the total tithes given by Israelites actually totaled 19/20% to 33%, not just 10%. They were context-specific in relation to the Land, Levites, Tribes, Living, Survival, Payments, Finances, etc. 3- The Prophets like Amos and Malachi speak about tithes, too. But, there are context-specific.

So, there were 3 tithes!

  • 1
    Yes there were three. Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 5:18
  • +1. Thx for your input. I am still trying to understand how it works. Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 6:17
  • @ Constantthin - Systematic Tithing System? Yes, tithing was well known throughout the ancient Mideast during the time of the Patriarchs, and before! What Abraham and Jacob did was nothing new; all the nations were doing it (tithing spoils of was and first-fruit harvests). See The Sacred Tenth by Henry Landsdell, 1906) So the Mosaic tithing, later, was a detailed-out presentation of what was customary in most of the other nations.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jan 11 at 22:02

The Sacred Tenth The definitive expose' on Tithing was written in 1906 A.D. by Henry Lansdell, D.D., F.R.G.S. in a book titled The Sacred Tenth or Studies in tithe-giving ancient and modern. It was published by the Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge: London.

Interestingly, he presented a history of tithing done by a plethora of ancient nations predating Abraham! So what Abraham and Jacob performed was not a new or strange custom to them. And what Moses proscribed in the Pentateuch (Torah) was a well-known practice. The ancient words for tenth was used profusely, as well as a few other designations.

Note: When we think of tithe, we usually are referring to the harvest income. But the ancients also tithed their "spoils of war" to their gods when they won a victory. Thus Abraham "tithed" of all the spoils of war he had just acquired (Genesis 14:20). And King David was accustomed to "dedicating the spoils of war" (plunder) to the priests when he was victorious (2 Samuel 8:11-12).

Lansdell clearly delineated the tithing of the Law, which consisted of three (3) tithes: the Levitical tithe (Deuteronomy 18:21,24), the Festival tithe (Leviticus 27:30-31), and the Welfare tithe (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 26:12). He then showed how the prosperity and national well-being of ancient Israel (judges and kings) depended on whether they showed respect to the LORD by tithing of the substance that He had graciously given them to enjoy. (See Ezekiel 44:30; Malachi 4, plagues because robbing God)

A treatment of the writings of the post-exile Jews was also given, with an in depth study of the Tithe mentioned in the Talmuds, and the Apocrapha writings (Tobit, Maccabees, etc.). The rabbinical teaching at the turn of the millennium (B.C. and A.D.) was quite detailed...to the point of being quite burdensome on the people, as Jesus pointed out in His confrontations with the Pharisees. It not only involved gifts of the first-fruits, but the practice of redeeming the tithe by payments. Money-changing in the Temple became big business, to the chagrin of Jesus!

There were three tithes of goods in Israelite history, from Moses to 70 A.D. With periods of apostacy interspersed, when the tithe was neglected...or given to foreign gods.

{Other books dealing with the Tithe are Selden's History of the Tithe, 1618 (539 pages)...Comber's History of the Tithe, 1682 (283 pages). These also show the universality of tithing among all nations, pointing to a Common Descent of mankind. And the validity of tithing in modernity (17th century onward)}


The priests; Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, received First Fruit gifts throughout the year depending on what was harvested. This was a very small group of people; just two families. Also, the First Fruit gifts must have been less than 1% of the total harvest.

Eze 44:30 (NIV) The best of all the first-fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.

Eze 44:29 (NIV) They will eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoted to the Lord will belong to them.

Thus, there were offerings of animals, grain, and wine, of which the priests also received parts of. Besides that, the priests also received ten percent of the Israelites third year's tithe, portioned out by the Levites.

Deu 14:28,29 (NIV) "At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands".

Deu 26:12 (NIV) When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;

Num 18:25-28 (NIV) The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest.

The Levites took turns of taking care of the different parts that made up the tabernacle; and a majority of the levites supported themselves in other ways.

Num 18:21 (NIV) I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.

I think it is plausible that the third years tithes that the Levites received for themselves and the poor were given to them gradually. Thus, the Israelites from the other tribes did not adhere to the same giving schedules.

Consequently, the priests received three kinds of donations, or taxes if you like:

  1. Sporadic First Fruits offerings throughout the year.
  2. Ongoing weekly burn/wave offerings.
  3. Ten percent of the third year's tithes, given regularly at different times by the Israelites.

In all, there were five groups of recipients that benefited from Israelitic tax donations, they were: the priests, the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows.

  • There were 22000 Levite men, I doubt that that many men were needed, at any one time, in the tabernacle work. There must have been plenty of time for most of them to do other things. Work in other occupations, such as farming, cattle herding, teaching, etc. Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 9:44
  • The Levites didn't have any allotment or land similar to the other Israelites. What they had were cities, with pasture-land around them, scattered all throughout the other tribes' allotments. The question I am pondering about now is how much pasture-land the Levites had compared with the average other Israelitic tribe. Thus, if adding up all pasture-lands did the Levites have more, or less, than the average other tribe? And if less, how much less? Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 9:44
  • I think that a modern day application for Christians might be something like: First Fruits = 0.1% - 1% of ones yearly income in support to front-line ministry. Offerings = Unspecified amount for collections when visiting church services (doves are sold for $5.00 - $50.00 each, and lambs $80 - $400, on the net). And, Tithes = Either 10% of one's after tax yearly income every three years, or 3.4% of one's after tax yearly income every year, in support to base ministry. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 12:57
  • The ten percent tax to the ancient Israelic Levites, if that is what it was, would correspond to todays government tax. To be loyal to the ancient tithing principle in today’s modern society, ten percent of that would belong to Christian charitable organisations, such as Salvation Army, prison ministries, etc; or to local churches. Commented Jan 11 at 23:19

I think it is one tithe, it just depends if you want to hold it or give it right away to the poor. However holding it sometimes was seen as offensive when there was someone in need and refused to give it because it wasn’t the seventh or sixth year.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 19:05
  • Hi. Welcome to this site. You wrote: “because it wasn’t the seventh or sixth year.” I assume you meant “the third”, not “the seventh”. If so, there is an edit button to use to change it. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 5:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.