Honoring an Ancient Custom
by Ronald W Robey

Genesis 14 reveals that Abram tithed before the Law. We do not dispute this event at all. However, it must be noted that that which Abram tithed to Melchizedek is not what Pastors are telling you to tithe today.

The tithe Abram gave to Melchizedek was a tenth of goods that were recovered from the carcasses of dead men and the camp they were in…they did not come from Abram’s monetary income or employment wages.

Abram had promised God that he would not take any of the spoils as his own property. And, to show his faithfulness to his promise not to take any of the spoils as his own, he returned the remainder of the spoils (minus what the men that were with him had eaten) back to their rightful owners. So, that which Abram tithed from didn’t even belong to him.

Further, this event is the only recorded time in Abram’s 175 years on Earth in which we read that Abram tithed. Once in one hundred seventy-five years…not every week or every month of his righteous walk with God.

I encourage you to research two books, “The Struggle of the Nations” by Professor Gaston Maspero of Oxford, ©1896, and “The Sacred Tenth” by Henry Lansdell, ©1906. These two books reveal that tithing of war spoils had been in practice as early as 2200 BC, and had been practiced by pagan warriors, who would give ten percent of their spoils to their kings and gods.

Sound familiar?

But, what does a pagan practice have to do with Abram tithing to Melchizedek? Now, I’m not saying that Abram tithed to a pagan, don’t misread my statement. What I am saying is Abram may have tithed simply because it was a practice he had observed the pagans doing and thought it was to be that way.

Abram, at one time in his life, lived in Ur of the Chaldees before God called him out of that land. Ur of the Chaldees was a land in the region of ancient Babylonia. The ancient Babylonians were giving war spoil tithes to kings as early as 2200 BC, as was discovered etched on clay tablets that are housed in the British Museum, and recorded by Henry Lansdell in his aforementioned book.

Abram would have been familiar with the practice of tithing war spoils, having lived in an area of the world that observed the practice.

And the biblical text seems to validate this when we see where Abram gave the tithe. It was in Shaveh, also known as “the valley of the kings.” It appears that kings traveled to this valley after armies were victorious in battle, in hopes that they would be the ones receiving the customary war spoil tithe. We do know that at least two kings traveled to this valley after Abram’s victory in war…Bera king of Sodom, and Melchizedek king of Salem.

What other reason would the two kings have to go to the valley, if not for the possibility that they would be the recipient of the customary tithe? Abram could have given that tithe to Bera, but instead gave it to Melchizedek. But he gave the tithe to Melchizedek and returned the remainder of Sodom’s goods and people to Bera king of Sodom.