Exegeting Leviticus 27:30
by Ronald W Robey
Leviticus 27:30 has some precious and wonderful nuggets of truth in it. Yet, pastors seem to focus on just one of those nuggets.
Whenever a sermon is preached on tithes, one is sure to hear from the pulpit, “The tithe is the LORD’s. It is holy unto the LORD.”
When that portion of the biblical text is pulled out of the verse to use as a means to convince the congregation that God requires ten percent of their monetary income, that portion of the verse becomes a lie.
It is not being used in the intent of the author.
Leviticus 27:30 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 All the tithe” What did Moses mean when He said “ALL THE TITHE”?
The word “tithe” is translated from the Greek “ma’aser”. It means, “a tenth; a tenth part.” God was speaking of a tenth, or a tenth part of something.
But a tenth part of what?
A tenth part “OF THE LAND”
A tenth part of the land? What land is God speaking of in this verse?
For the answer, we must leave this text for the present time and visit the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy,…
In Exodus 3:17, we read, “And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
And in 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 12:10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
Deuteronomy 12:11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
Did you catch that?
Tithing is to be observed in the land that God gave to the children of Israel to possess. God is not speaking of just any geographical location in the world here,… He is speaking of the land of Canaan,… the land promised to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15.
Genesis 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
Genesis 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 28:15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
Let’s return to Leviticus 27:30.
“And all the tithe of the land” God is speaking of a specific location. He is not speaking of North America. He is not speaking of South America. He is not speaking of the European Countries. Nor is He speaking of Australia, Germany, or the Soviet Union.
God is speaking of the land of Canaan. God said His tithe is not to come from any location in the world but the Promised Land.
Read on.
“whether it be of the seed of the land; or of the fruit of the tree”
At the beginning of the verse, God said “all the tithe.” He did not say some of the tithe. He did not say a part of the tithe. He said all of the tithe.
All of the tithe is to come from the Promised Land. This leaves no room for private interpretation. All of the tithe is to come from within the borders of Canaan, and from nowhere else.
The tithe is to come from the seed of the land and the fruit of the tree. This is agricultural,… not monetary. God said all the tithe is to come from agricultural crops. (In verse 32 we see a tithe of livestock. Again, agricultural)
Again, the text leaves no room for private interpretation. The text clearly says God’s tithe is to come from seed and fruit,… this is agricultural, not monetary
Read on.
“It is the Lord’s.”
The tenth part of the agricultural crops in the land of Canaan belongs to God.
“It is holy unto the Lord.”
How is the tithe holy?
Why is the tithe holy?
Remember the promise God made to Jacob back in Genesis 28:13-15? Well, Jacob’s response to God when Jacob awoke from his dream is the reason God said the tithe is holy.
Genesis 28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
Genesis 28:21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
Genesis 28:22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Jacob vowed to give God a tenth of that which God promised to give him. God promised to give Jacob the land of Canaan, and Jacob promised a tenth of it would be given back to God.
Deuteronomy 23:21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
Jacob had vowed to give God a tenth part of the agricultural crops and livestock of the land of Canaan back to God. That tenth is the tithe that God required of the children of Israel in Leviticus 27:30. The tithe was holy, set apart for God by the Patriarch Jacob, and God was simply laying claim to that which Jacob had vowed would be God’s.
In closing, Leviticus 27:30 has absolutely nothing to do with a tithe of ones monetary income. It was strictly speaking of an agricultural tithe, in a specific geographic location.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian Church. It was for the children of Israel in the Promised Land.
It is dishonest for any pastor to use Leviticus 27:30 to preach a monetary tithe requirement to the Christian Church.