What Are Some Facts About the History of Tithing?


Quick Answer

The Old Testament documents the origins of tithing, with its earliest appearance in the book of Genesis. Tithing is the practice of giving one-tenth of one's income to a religious organization or government, either as a voluntary contribution or a mandatory tax. Tithing is less commonplace in 2015 than in the past due to economic difficulties, but many Christians in the U.S. still observe the practice.

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Full Answer

Tithing first appeared as a practice in the Bible in the book of Genesis, carried out by Abraham. After a wondrous victory in battle and successfully retrieving his nephew Lot from captivity, Abraham showed his gratitude to God by giving one-tenth of all that he had to Melchizedek.

The practice was also common among non-Jewish and pre-Christian societies, possibly setting a precedent for Abraham's tithe. Under Nebuchadnezzar, the Code of Hammurabi calls for tithing to support shrines and temples in the Babylonian kingdom.

Classic Greeks followed a practice similar to tithing. The temple of Apollo in Athens, the temple of Athena Delphi, and many others collected taxes for their gods, using them to support projects such as the construction of temples, the upkeep of clergymen and other religious uses.

Ancient Romans, Carthaginians, Phoenicians and Arabians gave in a similar fashion.

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