[b-hebrew] Tithing

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Dec 21 11:02:50 EST 2007

Revd Ben Crick:
You wrote:  “It seems to me that the purpose of the Tithe was to provide an
 income for the tribe of Levi, who were not allowed to possess lands
 or properties in order to support themselves. They could then devote
 all their time and energy to the maintenance of the Tabernacle and
 Temple cultus, serving God and His people.  That would seem to be the 
purpose in Leviticus 27, Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 12 and 14. Also in 2 Chronicles 
31, Nehemiah 13, and Malachi 3.”
I do not disagree with anything that you say.  But note the following, which 
is relevant to the point that I had been trying to make.
You focus on the Levite priesthood.  Nothing in the Patriarchal narratives 
betrays any knowledge that the descendants of Levi would later become priests:
1)  Levi misuses the sacred sacrament of circumcision to weaken the men of 
Shechem so that they can be killed in a surprise attack.  That is not priestly.
2)  Levi tries to kill his younger half-brother Joseph.  That is not priestly.
3)  Levi’s name means “joined to him”.  It is clear that Levi is joined to 
Simeon, because those two kill the men of Shechem and almost kill Joseph, and 
they get a joint final curse from their father Jacob.  Such a name is not 
4)  Levi gets a terrible ultimate curse from his father.  How could that 
foreshadow a long line of venerated Levite priests?
If southern Hebrew priests in the 1st millennium BCE had made up a fictional 
story of their ancestors, there is no way that they would have portrayed Levi 
the way Levi is portrayed in the Patriarchal narratives.  Rather than being 
1st millennium BCE fiction, as the Wellhausen JEPD theory would have it, the 
Patriarchal narratives are authentic material from the 2nd millennium BCE.  The 
truly ancient author of the Patriarchal narratives had no idea that the 
descendants of Levi would turn out to be a line of venerated Hebrew priests.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois      

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