What Is the History of Tithing?


Quick Answer

The first people in the Judeo-Christian tradition to pay tithes were the faithful that lived during the times of the Old Testament. They paid a tithe, in obedience to the mandate of God, in the form of crops and livestock to feed the people of the community. In the times of the New Testament, Jesus required his followers to give up all their worldly possessions and follow him, and early Christians abided by this.

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Full Answer

Centuries after the times of the New Testament, when the Christian faith was expanding throughout the world, The church no longer required Christians to give up all their wealth and possessions, but the tradition from the Old Testament was eventually revived. Originally, tithes were paid in crops, livestock or other possessions, because there was no currency. The 10 percent tithe is based on a passage from the Book of Leviticus where God commands animal herders to tithe every 10th animal that they count by pointing their herdsman's rod.

After the invention of currency, members of the church began to pay tithes as a percentage of their monetary income. In A.D. 585, the Church Council of Macon established a requirement for paying tithes. In the eighth century, Emperor Charlemagne made tithing into a law, and in the 16th century, the Council of Trent called the faithful to continue the tradition of tithing.

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