Today my bishop mentioned that tithing, by definition, means a tenth.
This piqued my interest. I’ve been moderately active in following commentary posted on the internet. So I happened to be aware that early members of the Church of Jesus Christ did not have our modern understanding of the tithe. While many gave their all, Steven Harper in his LDS Perspectives interview pointed out that Bishop Partridge originally proposed members of the Church donate a mere 2%.
So when my bishop said that tithing, by definition, is a tenth, I did a quick google search. By golly, it turns out that this is a universally acknowledged definition for the term “tithing.” Digging a bit deeper into the Hebrew term used for Malachi 3:8, it turns out the “tithe” Malachi chided the people of Judah to give to the temple was, in fact, a tenth. 1
So if the early members of the Church didn’t understand tithing to be a tenth, it was more a feature of their lack of education than anything else. It certainly wasn’t the Church that invented the definition that a tithe is a tenth. Continue reading
- Wikipedia has a nice article on how tithes were administered in Israel. A lazy reading might leave you thinking they only paid a tithe in the seventh year, but a tithe was paid every year. In years 1,2, 4 & 5 the “second tithe” was provided for consumption by Levites generally. In years 3 & 6 the tithe was for the support of the poor. In the 7th year the tithe was specifically for the use of the tabernacle. ↩