Exegeting Matthew 23:23
by Ronald W Robey

 
Woe to you, (grief; sorrows)
scribes (lawyers, recorders of the Law)
and Pharisees (religious leaders)
Hypocrites! (actors; those who put on a pretense)
For ye tithe mint, and anise, and cummin (you give a tenth of your garden products)
and have neglected (you’ve failed to observe)
the weightier matters (more important things)
of the Law (written in the Mosaic Law)
Judgment, Mercy and Faith (Justice, Compassion and Trust)
These (tithes of garden products)
ought ye to have done (you should have done)
and not to leave the others undone (you should not neglect exercising Justice, Compassion and Trust)
The Mosaic Law stated that God’s holy tithe was crops, flocks and herds in the land of Israel. ( Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 12:1,10-11). In Matthew 23:23, Jesus stated that the scribes and Pharisees were keeping the command concerning tithes (tithing mint, anise and cummin) and said they should not only have been tithing from their gardens, but that they should also have been practicing the more important commands written in the Mosaic Law as well.
 
The Law demanded tithes of crops, flocks and herds, and as citizens of the land to which the Law applied, it was the duty of the scribes and Pharisees to obey the Mosaic Law given to Israel just as we are to obey laws that govern the state/county/township in which we live today.
Leviticus 27:30-33 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
Deuteronomy 12:1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
Deuteronomy 12:6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
The Mosaic Law commanded tithes of crops, flocks and herds.
Deuteronomy 12:8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
Man could not do what seemed right in his own eyes. The tithe was crops and livestock, not money. Man was forbidden to tithe money. (Ye shall not do what seemeth right in your own eyes)
Jesus was not saying ‘tithe money’ in Matthew 23:23. Not at all. He was telling a people under the Law to tithe that which the Law required. Had Jesus told anyone to tithe their monetary income, He would have been telling them to transgress the very Law that His Father decreed that they were to obey. (Remember, He came to do His Father’s will, not man’s)
Those who insist that tithing should be done, are not even tithing in the manner that God decreed, i.e.; agricultural, in Canaan, to sons of Levi, widows, orphans, foreigners living in Israel, and tithing to self.
If they don’t tithe as God decreed, they really have no business telling others to tithe.
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