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How Tithing In The Bible Got Started: Abram And Melchizedek

The First Recorded Act of Tithing in the Bible:

When looking for tithing in the Bible, you first have to look at Abraham.  Many of us know the story of Abraham (then called Abram) and the defeat of the four kings. Four kings from the east came riding in and sacked Sodom and Gomorrah – and took everything, including Lot, Abram’s nephew. Abram then gathered his forces and went after the four kings. A battle ensued and Abram recovered all the stolen property and people.

After the battle, Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, came and blessed Abram. Genesis 14 records it this way:

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram…”

The first act of tithing in the Bible:  It is after this that Abram gave him a tenth of the plunder. This is the first recorded act of tithing in the Bible. Since we know from ancient literature that the dominant ally in a campaign was to provide the victory meal, we can assume that Melchizedek was the dominant king in the region. Even though he did not participate in the battle, him giving the feast and Abram paying the tithe would have been customary to maintain the status quo. It was a way for Melchizedek to show that he was still in charge and by Abram tithing it showed that he was grateful for the blessing and his victory did not make him too big for his britches.

But that is not all the Bible has to say about Abram and Melchizedek. In Hebrews chapter seven it says:

“First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Just think how great [Melchizedek] was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! … This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater…”(NIV)

And later in the chapter it says,

“[Jesus is] a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek… [and] he holds the office of priest permanently because he continues to serve forever.”(CEB)

Now we know that Abram was just following the norm when he tithed. Tithing was a widespread custom practiced by many ancient cultures. It was custom to give a tithe of the spoils to the reigning monarch in your area. Yet Abram’s humility proved to be more than a simple act. After all, he is the one through whom the whole Tithing in the Bible: Jesus is both Priest and Kingearth is blessed. But his act of tithing pointed to a figure that was greater than him and the law, was a king of righteousness, and a king of peace. This figure was a priest of God Most High and did not depend on lineage for his priesthood.

Abram’s simple act pointed to Jesus, our King of Righteousness and Peace, our High Priest that is before everything and has paid the way for eternal life.

So the next time you are simply humble and willing to share what you have, you never know Who you may be pointing to for someone else.

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About The Author

Ken Mafli

is passionate about Theological Anthropology and has been studying the Bible, humanity, and how we relate to God for over 20 years.

Number of Entries : 53

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