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In the Gates

Redeeming the Tithe

The First Commandment

No other gods


Leviticus 27.30-33

Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the LORD. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

Two other ideas are present here, that of “redeeming” one’s tithe and of “substituting” for it. Evidently it was possible to redeem a portion (or all?) of one’s firstfruit, perhaps to ensure more seed for a future planting or to build one’s flocks. It was lawful to do this, but sacrifice was still required. Paying merely the market price of grain, fruit, or livestock was not sufficient; a fifth of that price must be added. Thus one could accomplish the full purpose of the tithe in making an offering and in making it sacrificial.

 This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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