Tithing and related income activity are examined mostly in the Old Testament. Genesis 14:20 notes that Abraham gave a 10th of his earnings to Melchizedek, who was a priest of God. Leviticus 27:32 states that “every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod” was the property of God and should be tithed to the church. Verses in Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Malachi, Matthew and Luke also examine the Old Testament principle of tithing a 10th of one's income to the church.
The principle of giving 10 percent of one's income to the church, also called tithing, has its roots in the first passages of the Old Testament and played an important role in Abrahamic religious tradition. The tithes were not always of a fixed percentage, and many offerings from farmers, merchants and herdsmen were understood to be dependent on income level and ability to give. Tithes were also set aside for the Levites, for resident aliens, for orphans or widows, and for certain festivals that took place throughout the year.
It is unclear if Jesus required tithing in his version of the new covenant of Christianity. Many religious scholars agree that he approved of the Israelite practice of offering a portion of their income to the church, but felt that tithing should not be so strictly enforced by church authorities.