Tag Archives: Levite

Why did the Veil of the Temple tear? Which Veil tore?

Among Christian Congregations, it is a common teaching that the Veil in front of the Holy of Holies Tore when Christ died, and that this means we are free to walk into the Most Holy Place without any barriers. Did the Veil before the Holy of Holies tear? and what was the true meaning of this sign?

Which Veil tore?
Before we inspect the reasons for the tear and the meaning behind it, let us try to understand how many veils were there in the temple and which one tore.

Num 4:25,26 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.

The Tabernacle in the wilderness which stood as the model for the Temple built by Solomon as well as the second temple built by Zerubbabel carried a number of curtains as seen below. The 3 main curtains (in purple color) were:
a) Dividing the camp from the courtyard
b) Dividing the courtyard from the Holy place
c) Dividing the Holy place from the Holy of Holies

Even though the Scriptures are not clear on this fact, the same pattern was carried over to the Temple building which was built by Solomon and Zerubbabel. We see the multiple curtains/veils in the Temple mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, Maccabees and in the historical accounts such as Josephus and Talmud. according to these accounts there were 2 main curtains in the Temple. One at the entrance into the Temple and one before the Holy of Holies.

Heb 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. The Book of Maccabees I Ch4 v50

When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of incense], which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. Antiquities of the Jews Book 12 Ch7 v6

But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v4

But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v5

“The thickness of the veil [of the Temple] was a hand-breadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, each cord consisting of twenty-four strands. Its length was forty cubits, by twenty in width. It was made by eighty-two myriads of damsels, and two such veils were made every year. It took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it [if it becomes unclean].” Ein Yaakov, Chullin Ch 7

The First Veil
Analysing the above information helps us see that the first Veil was in front of the door of the Temple and that it covered the doors so that the Holy place was covered at all times. No Levite other than the Family of Aaron went past this veil into the Holy place. All of the other Levites would work outside the temple.

 

 

The Second Veil
The next veil was in front of the Holy of Holies inside the Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy. Only the High Priest of the line of Aaron went into this place which had the Ark of the Covenant; once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The other Priests of the Line of Aaron would not go past this place, and only serve inside the Holy place where the Menorah, The Table of Presence and Altar of Incense were situated. As the accounts of Ein Yaakov mentions, these two veils were so huge that it took 300 priests to hang them up. The thickness of the veils are said to be a handbreadth (4 inches) with a width of 20 cubits (10meters) by height of 40 cubits (20 meters) which would have been 8 stories high.

Which Veil Tore? the Outer Veil or the Inner Veil?
Because most Christians do not know about the Temple precinct and that there were 2 veils in the temple, they immediately assume that the Inner Veil Tore. This would have not been a sign that the Israelites could see, as the outer veil would be covering it. But if the Outer Veil was what tore, everyone would have been able to see it because of the height of this massive veil which towered over most of the other buildings. It would have been clearly sighted by everyone who was in the outer courts of the Temple.

In fact this was not the first time that the Outer Veil of the Temple tore. Josephus notes that in the days of King Uzziah, such an even happened with an earthquake, which is mentioned by Zecheriah.

2Ch 26:16-21 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity,] he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent; and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish; and despised that power which is of eternal duration: (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws:) so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs; and was carried headlong into those sins of his fathers, which the splendour of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into: while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar; which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the High Priest, who had fourscore Priests with him, and who told him, that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice: and that “None besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.” And when they cried out, that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it; and fell upon the King’s face; insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled it self four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain; till the roads, as well as the King’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now as soon as the Priests saw that the King’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city, as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict; that he did as he was commanded; and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befited a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life: while his son Jotham took the government. After which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him; when he had lived sixty eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two. And was buried by himself in his own gardens. Ant. of the Jews IX Ch10 v4

Josephus mentions that the earthquake made a tare in the temple referring to the Veil, through which rays of sunlight (which came from the East directly through the doorway) fell on Uzziah. This was divine judgement. We should note that the veil was torn in this case, but was not completely made into two parts. In this way, the tear made at the time of Yeshua’s death was much more significant. This sign of the tear could not have been seen by the people if it was the inner Veil. Now lets try to understand the reason for such a tear.

Why did the veil tear in two?
Many hold to the understanding that the inner veil tore, signifying that everyone is able to go to the Most Holy Place freely. But this is a gross misunderstanding of protocols in the courts of God. Only The High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. All other priests of the lineage of Aaron were barred from such an offense. Christ as the High Priest (Heb 9:11) is able to approach the Most Holy place, while all other priests were to stand before God in the Holy Place.

1. A sign of Priesthood
God has called us to be a Kingdom of Priests as we see this as part of His Covenant given through Moses(Exo 19:6) and also reiterated by Peter (1Pet 2:9). A tear of the Outer Veil shows a clear path to approach God and serve Him in the Holy Place as a priesthood, while the Holy of Holies is reserved for the Messiah and High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

2. A sign of Grief
In the bible a father usually rents his clothes as a clear sign of Grief when one’s son is dead (Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31). Two of the Gospel writers make an interesting observation when they say that the veil was torn from top to bottom, which is an indication of a garment of a father being torn in two. While God does not live in buildings made with hands(1Kin 8:27), God promised to dwell among the people through the Tabernacle/Temple (Exo 25:8, 1Kin 9:3) which stood on the earth as a microcosm of the Heavenly reign of God (Exo 25:40, 26:30). So the Outer Veil could be looked at as God’s outer garment on Earth, which being torn in two would denote a sign of Grief as His son paid the ultimate price for our sin.

Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mar 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

3. A sign to the People and leaders in Jerusalem
The Outer veil being torn would have also been a sign which would have amazed everyone in Jerusalem and a piece of news that would have travelled around the land. In fact, this could have been one thing that the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus would have been referring to, when they said:

Luk 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

A clear sign such as this would have been a witness to many who were doubtful about Yeshua’s claim to be the Son of God. Both the Ruling parties and the people who had come for Passover would have nothing else to talk about as the torn veil was accompanied with darkness and an earthquake.

Conclusion
The tearing of the Outer Veil did not signify the end of God’s Temple or His Law as tearing one of the veils could not lead us to this conclusion. It is much more likely that it was a sign of Grief by God, The Father and an invitation for the Priesthood to be called from around the world unto Him as well as a mighty sign that witnesses Yeshua was truly the Messiah. While Christ, the High Priest took office, the tear signified that the Priests who would take office could approach the Holy Place, after Him. The tear was also a major sign for the authorities as well as the people of Jerusalem and the whole of Israel, that an important event had taken place.

Migdal Eder and the Birth of Christ

We are all familiar of the story of the appearance of Angels to lowly shepherds watching over their sheep at night when Christ was born. But were these normal shepherds? Did the Angels tell them where to exactly look in Bethlehem? Or were they privy to some information we have not understood?

Prophecies of the Birth place of Messiah and Migdal Eder
Comparing the following verses, we see that the burial-place of Rachel is called the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder in Hebrew). This may have been called as such in remembrance of Rachel who was a shepherdess(Gen 29:9). Micah 4:8 and Gen 35:21 reference the same place – the Tower of Eder also called the Tower of the Flock. Micah is a clear reference that Messiah would be born in this place.

Mic 4:8 And thou, O tower(Migdal) of the flock(Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Gen 35:19-21 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

In fact the Pillar of Rachel’s grave mentioned above may have been the Tower of Edar. So why is this Tower of the Flock of any interest to us? As Micah has prophesied, the Kingdom and Dominion comes to the Tower of the Flock. 6 verses down, Micah again references the same Shepherd who will arise from Bethlehem and feed His flock, to whom all of Israel will return. These prophecies were well known at the time of Yeshua‘s birth, as we see below.

Mic 5:2-4 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Mat 2:4-6 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Joh 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

It is very likely, considering they lived in the land and knew the various landmarks, that the Tower of Edar was also well known for its significant prophecy mentioned in Micah.

Priestly Shepherds tending the sheep in the Lambing Season
We have all heard that the Shepherds in Luke’s account of the birth of Messiah, were outcasts and poor people taking care of their sheep at night. But we must ask the question of why shepherds would be out at night risking losing their livestock to predators and the like. The reason would be lambing season.

Gustaf Dalman who did extensive field work in the land of Israel before the 1st World War, mentions in his work “Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina (Work and Customs in Palestine) V1, 183” that he observed 3 lambing seasons; early lambs born in November-January, Spring Lambs born in February-March and Summer lambs born in June.

The Spring Lambing Season is of special significance to us, as that is the time of the Passover Sacrifice which required a 1-year old Lamb. For Messiah to be born in this season as the Lamb of God, would be an amazing foreshadowing of His Ministry of becoming the Passover Lamb that brings redemption to His people.

Another interesting fact is that there were Shepherds who were from the priestly families according to the Mishnah Bekhorot 5:4. Could the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 be Priests?Migdal Eder is also mentioned by name again in the Mishnah regarding lambs who were found in the vicinity being accepted as Passover offerings, making it very likely that this area was a common grazing place for Priestly-Shepherds.

Beasts which were found in Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder and within the same distance in any direction: Males are [considered as] burnt-offerings; Females are [considered as] peace-offerings. Rabbi Judah says: that which is fit for a pesach offering, is a pesach-offerings within thirty days before the pilgrimage [of Pesach]. Mishnah, Shekalim 7:4

If the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 were in fact Priests, this may also explain how the shepherds knew where to go, as the Angels never mentioned a particular place. It is unlikely that normal shepherds would know about the exact prophecies mentioned in Micah, while Priestly Shepherds would have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.

Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Was the Tower of the Flock the place of Yeshua’s Birth?
Even though many of us have grown up seeing Yeshua being laid in a rack for fodder called a manger, the text says something else. Luke mentions that he was laid in a “Phatne” in Greek, better translated as stall, as per examples given below.

Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls(phatne):
2Ch 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls(phatne) for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall(phatne), and lead him away to watering?

Compare the above to the instances of Phatne in the Birth of Messiah:

Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger(phatne); because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(phatne).
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger(phatne).

It is clear that the imagery of the trough is not a Biblical one, and it is more likely that Messiah was born in a stall that was made for Lambs. Could this have been connected to the Migdal Eder? Did the Tower of the Flock also consist of a “Phatne” (stall) which could hold newborn lambs for the shepherds who were out at night in lambing season? This could explain how they found Mary, Joseph and Yeshua so easily.

Conclusion
Migdal Eder which is connected to Prophet Micah’s prophecy, may very well be the exact place of Yeshua’s Birth. What better place and time for the Lamb of God to be born, other than in the Spring Lambing Season close to Passover at the “Tower of the Flock” and be visited first by Shepherds who were priests. With God’s track record of foreshadowings and prophetic imagery, it is not far fetched to imagine the Birth of Messiah happening in this fashion.

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Law of God & Law of Moses – 2 Laws or 1?

As more and more Christians become exposed to God’s Word which contains His Commandments/Law, and the fact that it can never be done away or abolished, some believers have resorted to explain their beliefs by compartmentalizing the 10 Commandments and rest of the Law as separate entities. The question is whether the usual reference of God’s Law, only consists of the Ten Commandments given on tablets of Stone, and whether it is different and separate to the Law of Moses (Law given through Moses), or whether all of it is one. The objective of this post is to search whether they are separate or one, by examining how it is referred to in Scripture. We will inspect both the Old Testament and the New Testament to see whether there is proof to say that the Law of Moses is called the Law of God, by its many writers – or whether they are referred to being separate Laws.

ezraTo anyone who is not familiar with the details, when God made the Covenant with the children of Israel at Sinai, He handed two tablets of stone with the ten Commandments written with the finger of God to Moses and asked him to record all the statutes and judgments which went with it in a Book. Some assume that God’s Word is only the two tablets of stone, which will last forever – while the rest of the Law which was written on a book, called the Law of Moses, has been done away. While many scriptures and theories are put forward to differentiate the two, I believe there is a lack of looking at the plethora of verses that explain them to be one and the same.

What is the Covenant?
According to the verse below, it is very clear that the Covenant made with the Children of Israel was the 10 Commandments written on the two tablets of stone.

Exo 34:28  And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Deu 4:13  And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
2Ch 6:11  And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel.

Who made the covenant with the Children of Israel?
Everyone agrees that the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth made this covenant directly with the children of Israel.

Deu 5:2  The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
Deu 4:23  Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.

The Tables of the Covenant
The two tables given to Moses by God contained the 10 commandments which were spoken at Horeb and written with the finger of God and brought down by Moses. These were called the “Tables of the Covenant”, as they were two tablets that contained the conditions the Covenant was based on.

Deu 9:9-11 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
Heb 9:4  Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 

Note: The “Ten Commandments” as we call it, appear in 3 places, namely Exo 34:28, Deut 4:13, Deut 10:4 and is better phrased as the “Ten words” or “Ten matters” as the Hebrew word used in the Original manuscripts is “dabar” which means “saying”/”matter”/”word” – (H1697 – דּבר – dâbâr – Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Definition: 1) speech, word, speaking, thing / 1a) speech / 1b) saying, utterance / 1c) word, words / 1d) business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner). The Hebrew word translated as Commandment elsewhere in our English translations is “Mitsvah”(H4687). 

What is the Law of Moses?
The Law of Moses or the Law that was communicated through Moses contained “Statutes”, “Judgements” and “Commandments”. The word translated as Law in our English Translations is “Torah” in Hebrew and means “Direction”/”Instruction” (H8451 – Torah). The easiest way to understand the connection between The “Ten Commandments” and “Torah”(Law of Moses), is to look at The Ten Commandments as God’s Constitution for Israel, while the “Torah” is the “Common Law” or the Law of the Land that governs Israel. The “Common Law”(Torah aka Law of Moses) explained how the Children of Israel should live, worship and obey God, so that they would not be breaking the “Constitution”(Ten Commandments) on which it was built. Similar to the body of Law in countries of the present world, “Torah” contains judgements, statutes and commandments. One who broke the Torah was breaking the Ten commandments which it was based on – they were breaking God’s Covenant.

1Ki 2:3  And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
Deu 8:11  Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
Deu 11:1  Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
Lev 26:15  And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:

Who gave the Law of Moses(Torah) to the Children of Israel?
Some mistakenly believe that the Law of Moses was created by Moses. But the Scriptures are clear that it was directly handed over to Moses by God – which was then written down by Moses and communicated to the Children of Israel.

Exo 34:27,32 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments…. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
Mal 4:4  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Dan 9:10-13 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
Neh 10:29  They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;
Neh 8:1  And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
Neh 8:13-14 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
Ezr 7:6  This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
2Ch 33:8  Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.
2Ki 14:6  But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
1Ki 2:3  And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
Num 31:21  And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;

Why was it given through Moses?
The fact that it is called the Law of Moses has made people belittle the “Torah”. But the fact remains that God only communicated His Statutes, Judgements and commandments through Moses because of the plea of the people that Moses ascend the mountain and bring the Law to them. He would have spoken the whole “Torah” from the mountain top if not for the dread that had taken hold of the Children of Israel. God in fact was pleased that they were afraid, saying “if only they had such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always”.

Deu 5:24-31 And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Exo 20:18-22 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Law of Moses is called the Law of God

Neh 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
Neh 8:18  Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.
Neh 9:3  And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
2Ch 17:9  And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
Neh 10:29  They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;
Ezr 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
2Ch 31:3  He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.
1Ch 22:12,13 Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.
1Ch 16:40  To offer burnt offerings unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel;
Deu 30:8-10 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Jos 24:26  And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

Law of Moses is called the Book of the Covenant

Exo 24:7  And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
2Ki 23:2  And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.
2Ki 23:21  And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
2Ch 34:31  And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.

Two Laws or One?
To any who believe that the Law of Moses is not the Law of God, there is even more evidence even in the New Testament writings making it absolutely certain that they are in fact the same.

Luk 2:22-24,39 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons…. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

The Royal Law
One other interesting points to highlight is the “Royal Law” or the essence of God’s Commandments – the essence of the Covenant. Many know that “Loving God” & “Loving our Neighbor” is the Royal Law, but do not know that it is written in the Law of Moses(Lev 19:18, Deut 6:5). These were quoted word for word by Christ Himself in Mar 12:29-31 and was said to be the two greatest Commandments which the rest hanged on(Mat 22:40).

Mat 22:36-39 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Mar 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Luk 10:25-28 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Deu 6:4,5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Lev 19:18  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

So, if the Royal Law is part of the Law of Moses, how can it be from a different source or inferior to the Ten Commandments? This is solid proof that both the Law given by Moses and the Ten Commands were all from the same Author – the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Why was the Tables of the Covenant kept inside the Ark while the Book of the Covenant kept on the side?
Some resort to point at the placement of the two documents to signify a difference of importance saying that the Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant as it was the Law of God, while the Book of Law (Law of Moses) was kept on a side of the Ark – showing it was not that significant. So why was the Book kept outside while the Tables were kept inside?

Exo 40:20  And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:
Deu 31:25,26 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

It must be pointed out that what was contained on the Tables of the Covenant was also written down on the Book of the Covenant. And there are several reasons why the book was kept outside the Ark which was never opened after Moses put the Tables of the Covenant, the manna and Aaron’s Rod into the Ark.

Reason 01 – The Levites were asked to teach the people using the Book
Deu 31:10-12 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
Reason 02 – The King had to make a copy for himself using the Book
Deu 17:18,19 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Reason 03 – Levites traveled the land teaching from the Book
2Ch 17:8,9 And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

Conclusion
It must be pointed out that the Book of the Covenant cannot be separated from the Tables of the Covenant. While the Tables are meant to be an eternal Testimony, the Book is used to teach the statutes, Judgments and Commandments of the Covenant to the people in Covenant with God Almighty. Even though the Book is known as the Law of Moses, it was given directly by God, as was the understanding of authors such as Luke, who calls the Law of Moses – the Law of the Lord, as well as multiple instances in the Scriptures as shown above. As children in Covenant with Him, let us read and understand his “Torah” (Instructions) and the statutes, Judgments and Commandments written in it so that we can obey His Covenant that He may see us as a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Do we need to Tithe? and who do we give our Tithes to?

A much debated subject in Christian circles today, is whether we need or need not tithe. Some say it is one of God’s Commandments. Others say that it is an important act of obedience, while this controversial subject is not talked about directly in other assemblies.

It is a well known fact that “Tithing” was instituted with the Law given through Moses (Mosaic Law). The same congregations & denominations that believe and teach that the Law in the Old Testament is “done away with”, somehow still enforce “tithing”. Even the ones who do not enforce Tithing, still stick to the belief that it is valid for today unlike the other Old Testament Laws.

Today, we will read into this topic and get to the bottom of the “Biblical Tithe”, answering the questions “whether we need to tithe” and if we do, “who do we give our tithes to?” (Please note that this study is not intended to be used as an excuse to stop giving to Our Heavenly Father. He neither requires or desires to collect material treasures that we bring to Him. On the contrary, this study is done to better understand the Biblical Tithe system and whether and how we should give a portion back to our God who supplies all our needs)

Tithing before the Law of Moses
The Truth is that Tithing is even mentioned before the Mosaic Law. Just like “Animal Sacrifices” and “Clean/Unclean Animal separation” which were part of the Mosaic Law; are mentioned before the giving of the Law, in the book of Genesis, Tithing was also done many years before Moses.

Abraham’s Tithe
In Gen 14:20, it is mentioned that Abraham gave tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, the priest of God Almighty.
Jacob’s Tithe
In Gen 28:22, Jacob also makes a promise to God, to give a tenth of all that God gives him.

The Commandment of Tithing, through the Law of Moses
Before we get into the Laws regarding Tithing, it is necessary for all of us to understand a few fundamental aspects of the priestly system which tithing was part of.

  • God instituted the Tribe of Levi to work in the Temple/Tabernacle that was instituted after Moses (Num 1:49-54, 3:6-10, 18:2-4)
  • Aaron was also of the tribe of Levi (Num 26:59, Jos 21:10)
  • God chose Aaron and his sons to be Priests in the Temple/Tabernacle forever (Exo 27:21, 28:1,41,43, 29:9, 40:13,15, 1Chr 23:13)
  • All Levites were not Priests. Only the line of Aaron could be appointed as Priests (Num 16:8-11, 1Chr 6:48,49, 23:28, 2Chr 35:14, 2Chr 13:9,10). Even John the baptist descended from the lineage of Aaron, just as his father Zecheriah (Luke 1:5 – compare the course of Abijah/Abia 1Chr 24:10,19)
  • Everyone from the tribe of Levi, (other than Aaron and his descendents who were the priests) did all the other work in the Temple/Tabernacle (1Chr 23:27-32)
  • The tribe of Levi did not have any inheritance in the Land (Num 18:23, Deut 10:8,9, 18:1,2, Jos 13:14,33)
  • Levites were only given cities to live in (which they did not own), in each of the portions of land divided amongst the other tribes (Num 35:1-3 & 7-8)

There are 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures
Lev 27:30-33 is the first time the “Tithe” is specifically spoken of, by God Almighty. In this portion of Scripture, God mentions that the Tithe or Tenth of everything, whether seed, fruit, herd or flock, that the people “Israel” procures from the Land, which God gives them, is owned by Him. God says that it is also Holy/Consecrated to Him. But there is no further instruction regarding the Tithe mentioned in the Book of Leviticus. Accounting all of Scripture, we see that there was not 1, but 4 types of “Tithes” and specific instructions regarding these. Let us look at the 4 types of Tithes and try to clearly understand this Commandment regarding the Tithe.

1. The Levitical Tithe
The tithe which is commonly known by all, is actually the Tithe which was separated for the Levites. This Tithe was to be brought by all of Israel, and was to be given to the Levites. The Tithe which was brought was the inheritance set apart by God for the Levites (Num 18:21-24). All the tithes were given unto the Levites (Neh 12:44). It was the portion of the Levite (Neh 12:44), and was supposed to be divided amongst the Levites (Neh 13:10-13). God warns His people not to forsake the Levite (Deut 12:19). The Levites enjoyed the Tithes and whatever was left was stored in the treasury (2Chr 31:10). The fact that the Tithe went to the Levite, is even mentioned in the New Testament (Heb 7:5)

2. The Tithe given to the Aaronic Priests
God commanded that the Levites who received the Tithe would be required to give a tenth of it to Sons of Aaron, who were the priests (Num 18:25-32). This was also known as the “Tithe of Tithes” (Neh 10:38) It was the payment that they and their families got for the service they did in the Tabernacle (Num 18:31). The Tithe of the Tithe, that the priests who were in the lineage of Aaron received, was the best part of the Tithe which was acquired by the Levites who served the Priests (Num 18:29,32)

3. Tithe given to the Poor
On top of the Tithe brought to the Levites, every third year was also called the “Year of Tithing”(Deut 26:12). Every third year there was a separate Tithe which was supposed to be brought and given to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. It was basically given to the less fortunate, the poor and the people who could not fend for themselves (Deut 14:28,29). This Tithe is also mentioned by the Prophet Amos who talks to the idolatrous Israelites in a sarcastic manner (Amos 4:4)

4. The Tithe separated for God’s Appointed Times/Festivals/Feasts
God’s Appointed times which are commonly known as Feasts of God, which are mentioned in Leviticus 23, required everyone to come to Jerusalem 3 times a year (Exo 23:14,15,17, Deut 16:16, 2Chr 8:13). God specifically commanded everyone to bring a Tithe, that they themselves would use to celebrate before God (Deut 14:22-27). God wanted this Tithe to be used for rejoicing before Him (Deut 12:6,7). This Tithe could be only used to rejoice in Jerusalem along with the Levite (Deut 12:17,18). It could not be used in any other place.

Tithes were supposed to be brought to Jerusalem only
Just as no sacrifices or offerings could be made anywhere other than at the Temple/Tabenacle in Jerusalem, Tithes were also supposed to be brought to the place that God chose to “place His Name” (Deut 12:5,6,11, 14:23). Jerusalem is the only place that God placed His divine name Forever (1Kin 9:3, 11:36, 2Kin 21:4,7). It is called God’s Habitation (Isa 33:10, Ezr 7:15, 2Chr 29:6)

Is the Tithe valid for today?
The first thing to notice according to the 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures, is that the Tithes that could be valid for us are only the “Levitical Tithe”, “Poor Tithe” & “Feast Tithe”. The Priests Tithe was a Tithe made by the Levites, and is excluded to us unless you are from the tribe of Levi. The “Levitical Tithe” was to be given to the Levites for their livelihood, as they did not have an inheritance. The “Poor Tithe” was to be brought to the Temple/Tabernacle in Jerusalem and distributed amongst the poor. And the “Feast Tithe” was to be enjoyed by oneself at the Feasts/Appointed times when they came to the Temple/Tabernacle in Jerusalem.

The problem today, with these 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scripture is, that the Temple built in Jerusalem is not there anymore. In the same manner that no Sacrifices or offerings can and has not been made at the Temple, since it’s destruction in 70AD, Tithing also cannot be done in any other place according to the Commandments of God. But according to all the Prophets and the Book of Revelations, The Jerusalem Temple will be built again. On such a day, the Tithes according to the Scriptures would be valid again.

Mixing Tithes with Offerings
Most Christian circles have mixed up the Offering (known as the “freewill offering” in the Old Testament) with Tithing, saying Tithing is valid for today, while it is actually not. Even if Tithing was valid, Pastors, Ministers & Leaders of congregations cannot receive the Tithe which God has separated for the Tribe of Levi. While offerings were collected and received to help the poor or the preaching of the Gospel, nowhere did Paul or any other Author receive or approve of taking Tithes.

In fact, Paul himself says that whoever that serves should receive an offering, (1Cor 9:9-14) but that he has never written or asked for anything in return for his service (1Cor 9:15). Receiving or giving an Offering, is not wrong or against God’s Word at all, as Paul is clearly proving through the use of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Can anyone who serves God, request Tithes?
Some take the stance that whoever serves God should receive the Tithe making themselves equal to the Levites. But we see no such event taking place in the New Testament. The Tithe was specifically separated for the Levite, the Poor and all who came for the feasts. Even though there were many synagogues in the time of Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) and even afterwards, as well as many congregations at houses throughout the 1st Century Church, there is no indication that anyone excepted Tithes, other than the Levites who worked in the House of God in Jerusalem.

Malachi 3:7-10
One of the proof texts used by many to say God wants you to Tithe, is Malachi 3:7-10. In this passage of Scripture Malachi prophesies to the Israelites saying they have robbed God by not giving the necessary Tithes and offerings. Verse 10 reads, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” As a piece of Scripture that is connected to a promise, we must first of all, ask a few important questions regarding this verse. 1)What is the Storehouse? 2)Why does God want food in His House? 3)What is God referring to as My House?

The Storehouse mentioned in this verse is the treasury of the Temple (Neh 10:38, 12:44). God does not require food to eat, but the reason He mentions food in His house is that the Levites who serve would be given all of this (as per His Commandment) so that they can keep on serving at the Temple without hindrance. And the place God mentions as “My House” is the Temple which was built for Him in Jerusalem. This verse, read in context cannot mean that God is ordering believers today, to give Tithes to their Church Leaders.

Giving to the Widow, the Fatherless and the Stranger
Out of the Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures, the only clear category of people who could receive it today would be the poor. Throughout the Scriptures right up to the writings of the Apostles, the people who cannot fend for themselves have been asked to be taken care of (Deut 24:19-21, Psa 146:9, Jer 7:6,7, Zec 7:10, Mal 3:5, James 1:27). Using the portion that is separated for God to help the poor and helpless could be the closest we could get to a Biblical Tithe, in this day and age. It is not only acceptable, but is also an act that is surely noticed by God and approved throughout the Bible (Acts 10:4, Mat 6:4, Luk 12:33, Acts 9:36, 24:17)

Conclusion
It is clear that no one can point to Scripture to prove that they should rightly receive a Tithe from anyone, as the 4 types of Tithes mentioned in Scripture were given to the Levites, Priests, Poor and whoever came to celebrate the feasts of Yehovah. Leader, Pastors & Ministers have no authority to request or insinuate that the Tithe must be given to them and the institution that they are part of, when there is a clear set of rules made by Our Heavenly Father regarding this ordinance.

If someone does want to give a Tenth of what they earn to a Minister or a leader, it would be considered an “Offering”, which is not the same as the Tithe mentioned in the Scriptures. This does not mean that we should not and cannot separate or give a Tenth of our earnings to the Poor or the people who serve God Almighty. It is important though to make these decisions with discernment and help the people who are in need, the most. The portion we give, whether big or small, whether it is one tenth or not, should be done with Love and obedience to Our Father, so that it brings praise to Him and Him alone.