Abraham and Jacob Tithed
In the book of Genesis tithing is introduced through the examples of
Abraham and Jacob.
ABRAHAM - CHAPTER 14
Gen 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out
bread and wine; he was the priest of God
:19 And he blessed him and said:
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
:20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has
delivered your enemies into your hand."
And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all.
Abraham had just defeated Chedorlaomer(Kedorlaomer) king of Elam and
three kings, with only his 318 trained servants and his allies Aner,
Eshcol and Mamre.
The purpose of the attack had been to rescue Lot who had been taken
captive by Chedorlaomer. God had given Abraham the victory so it was
appropriate to express gratitude.
From the spoils of victory Abraham gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek.
It is not clear exactly how the tithe was calculated since,
a) people were amongst the spoils,
b) portions belonged to Abraham's allies and
c) people and possessions were returned to the king of Sodom.
The actual source of teaching which may have
led to this act of tithing is not clearly
stated. However the 'bread and wine'
mentioned in verse 18 have spiritual
The principle of tithing may have had its origin from teaching conveyed
at this time by Melchizedek to Abraham.
Even if the tithing principle was taught at this time it may have merely
been a refreshing of a principle which had existed since the creation of
In any case it is evident from the following verse that Abraham obeyed
teachings received from God.
Gen 26:5 "... Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge,
my commandments, my statutes and My laws."
JACOB - CHAPTER 28
Gen 28:22 "... and of all that You give me I will surely
give a tenth to You."
This promise was made at Bethel following a vision Jacob had experienced
while sleeping. Jacob's promise to tithe was conditional upon the message
of the vision being personally applicable; ie keeping him in his travels,
giving him bread to eat and clothes to wear until he returned to his
Later in Genesis just prior to Jacob
returning to his home land we read of
Gen 30:43 Thus the man became exceedingly
prosperous and had large flocks,
female and male servants, and
camels and donkeys.
Thus God had prospered Jacob and gave him
more than he could otherwise have earned.
The teaching embodied in these early tithing examples was subsequently
incorporated into the law of Moses.