Robbery in Progress
by Ronald W Robey
(written November 28, 2016)
Often, when discussing the topic of tithing, many defenders of the monetary tithe requirement doctrine will point out the account of the widow in Mark 12; saying that “the widow tithed money to the House of God, and Jesus was pleased with it.”
The fact is, the widow was not tithing that day. Let’s examine the account, shall we?
Just the day before, Jesus said that the scribes had made the Temple a den of thieves.
Mark 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
He leaves that evening and returns the next day, teaching more wrongs the scribes and Pharisees are guilty of. He says the scribes are devouring widows houses. (Mark 12:40)
Then, he sits against a wall facing the treasury box. (Mark 12:41)
It is no coincidence that a widow came in right after Jesus had said widow’s houses were being robbed.
What did she do?
She cast the last bit of money she had to live on into the treasury box… a box governed by people who rob widows. A box in a building that had become a den of thieves.
The word “threw” in Mark 12:42 is translated from the Greek “bal’-lo”. It means, “to throw with a degree of violence.” Lexicographers compare the action to “the casting away the contents of a chamber pot.”
This would indicate that the widow was disgusted that she even had to give.
Jesus knew that widow would be there that day. He finished His message of reproof just in time for the widow to arrive.
The widow’s arrival was a demonstration to the crowd just how widows were being forced out of their homes… they were being forced to give all they had to the thieves that Jesus was reproving.
And what was it Jesus did when He left the Temple?
He told His Apostles that the corrupt Temple would be destroyed.
Jesus’ statement that the widow gave more was not praise for what she gave. Rather, it was a statement of pity for a widow who had just been robbed; a woman who had just given everything to thieves.
She came into the Temple poor, and left the Temple destitute
The context of the story reveals that the crowd was not witnessing a widow giving with a cheerful heart,… they were watching a robbery in progress!
As to the argument some give that “the widow was tithing,” one only need look to the books of the Law to see that she could not have been tithing. In Leviticus 27:30-33, God told Moses what His holy tithe was to consist of. The required tithe was to consist of agricultural crops, and flocks and herds from livestock. It was not to come from one’s monetary income.
It really makes no sense to say Jesus was commending the widow…especially since she was putting those coins into the treasury of a corrupt religious system run by thieves…a system whose leaders He had just been warning the crowd to beware of.