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King James vs Revised Standard Amos 4:4 reads in the KJV: Come to Bethel and transgress; at Gilgal multiply your transgressions, and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years.

But the Revised Standard Version translated the last part of the verse as: ...your tithes every three days.

We know from Torah that there were three Tithes: (1) Firstfruits Tithe, (2) Festival Tithe, and then (3) Poor people's Tithe. The first two tithes were collected (or used at feasts) every year, except the seventh year in which the ground lay fallow. And the Poor people's Tithe was indeed collected every 3 years.

Is there adequate Hebrew wording justification for the Revisers to make a change away from the "three year" Tithe?

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  • +1. To bring tithes every three days seems to be a too heavy burden that God hardly could have wanted to put on the people. That is a lot more complicated than bringing it once a year, which is commonly taught today. Although the truth probably was that it happened every third year. Feb 9 at 11:06

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I suggest that a literal meaning of "three days" may be intended. The reason is that Amos is clearly denouncing the tradition at Bethel and Gilgal, not saying that it conforms to the Torah. He is also concerned that the northern religious establishment oppresses its people (4:1). So he criticizes the shrines of northern Israel (Samaria) for their frequent festivals and lax standards. As a Judean prophet, he is certainly not encouraging people to bring their tithes to these shrines, which he considers to be unauthorized.

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From the shrine of Bethel's inauguration by King Jeroboam I, its existence - together with the similar altar at Dan - was justified on the grounds of convenience.

1 Kings 12

28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods [elohim], Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.

Just as the northern locations were more convenient for the Israelites, so too a relaxed policy regarding when sacrifices and tithes could be offered would make contributions more likely, and thus increase revenues. Frequent festivals would also attract more participants but less crowding. Thus (as the majority of translators render it): "Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every third day." The theme of frequency is sarcastically continued in the next lines:

Come to Bethel and transgress; at Gilgal multiply your transgressions. Burn leavened bread as a thanksgiving sacrifice, proclaim publicly your voluntary offerings, For so you love to do, Israelites— oracle of the Lord God.

Finally, the opening lines of this prophecy also fit with the theme of illegitimate religion being used to squeeze money out of people who cannot truly afford it:

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who live on the mount of Samaria: Who oppress the destitute and abuse the needy;

Conclusion: Amos denounced the tradition at the northern Israelite sanctuaries at Bethel and Gilgal - as well as those people who attended these shrines - because they put convenience of time and place over compliance with the Torah. "Three days" may thus be the correct reading. If so, it does not mean that people were required to make tithes every three days, but that the lax tradition at Bethel and Gilgal - motivated by greed - encouraged the people to take part in daily religious festivals and to make frequent offerings of tithes: every morning for sacrifices and every third day for tithes. (In modern terms we need only think of a weekly collection of the tithe compared to a yearly one to understand why religious authorities would opt for frequent collections).

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  • So you are suggesting that the people in question changed the command of bringing tithes every third year to every third day to balancing and justify their evil ways? Feb 10 at 0:41
  • I don't know whether they even had a copy of a Torah scroll to refer to. Their tradition was independent of Jerusalem and its priests - but whether it was Torah-based is hard to tell. (The Books of Kings says they were idolatrous.) Amos clearly condemns their practices when he says "Come to Bethel and transgress; at Gilgal multiply your transgressions." Amos saw their ways as evil. I leave it to God to judge. Feb 10 at 2:43
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There are several matters here:

  1. Allusion

The text of Amos 4:4 appears to be alluding to the tri-annual tithes as defined in Deut 14:28 -

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns.

  1. Actual word in Amos 4:4

The Hebrew word in Amos 4:4 is actually יָמִ֖ים (yamim) = "days".

  1. Day vs Year

The Hebrew word for "day" (yom) sometimes means "year" according to BDB and other lexicons. Here is a sample:

  • Isa 34:8, 61:2, 63:4, Job 10:5, 15:20, 36:11, Ps 39:5, 61:6, 90:10, 15, Eze 22:4, etc. These references use “year” and “day” interchangeably in the Hebrew, usually in Hebrew parallelism. Here are a few more examples:
  • Numerous references in the Genesis 5 genealogies have the oft repeated formula, “And all the days of xxx were yyy years…” etc, more than 20 times in this chapter alone.
  • Ex 13:10 – The Passover was to be observed “from days to days” clearly meaning “year after year” as most versions correctly have it
  • Judges 17:10 - And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver per year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. [The “year” here is actually “day”.]
  • Lev 25:29 - “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. [“year” here is actually, “day”.]
  • 1 Sam 2:19 – Hannah took Samuel a new robe “from days to days” clearly meaning “year after year”, or, “each year” as most versions correctly have it.
  • 1 Sam 20:6 – David asked to be excused from the “sacrifice of the days” clearly meaning “annual sacrifice” as most versions correctly have it.
  • 1 Sam 27:7 – David dwelt in the land of the Philistines “days and four months” clearly meaning “a year and four months” as most versions correctly have it.

CONCLUSION

Amos 4:4 is one of the places where "day" should be understood as "year" thus giving the correct translation as per NIV, KJV, LSV, YLT, etc -

... your tithes every three years.

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