Today let’s focus our attention on the last two paragraphs of Numbers Chapter 18 that deal with tithing.
We are first told the following:
Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tenth of the produce which I have given you from them as your inheritance, you are to set aside from it a gift for Adonai, one tenth of the tenth. The gift you set aside will be accounted to you as if it were grain from the threshing-floor and grape juice from the wine vat. In this way you will set aside a gift for Adonai from all your tenths that you receive from the people of Israel, and from these tenths you are to give to Aharon the cohen the gift set aside for Adonai‘-Numbers 18:25-26
First, we’re told that the Levites (referring to the “Common Israelites”, NOT the “Israelite Priests”) are to collect a tenth from the common population in the form of produce, meat, and money.
And then from these tithes, they are to give a tenth to the Levite Priests for their sustenance.
However, what’s interesting is that the priests themselves do NOT have to pay a tithe on the tithes that they receive.
The buck stops with them so to speak.
The reason is because just as the “Common Levites” minister to the “Common Israelites“, so do the “Levite Priests” minister to the “Common Levites“.
“Therefore you are to tell them, ‘When you set aside from it its best part, it will be accounted to the Levites as if it were grain from the threshing-floor and grape juice from the wine vat. You may eat it anywhere, you and your households; because it is your payment in return for your service in the tent of meeting. Moreover, because you will have set aside from it its best parts, you will not be committing any sin because of it; for you are not to profane the holy things of the people of Isra’el, or you will die.’”-Numbers 18:30-32
We are next told that once the Levites have given back to the Priests the tenth that is their due (expressed via the phrase “a gift for Adonai”), they are allowed to take the remaining portion outside of the Temple grounds and eat it anywhere.
Why is this?
Well, the Scripture makes it clear.
It says “because it is your payment in return for your service in the tent of meeting“
In other words, in some mysterious way, when the common Levites tithed their portion to the Levite Priests, the remaining portion underwent a status change from HOLY to COMMON.
I’m saying the very act of tithing removed the HOLY status of the food.
This was actually a good thing.
Well, read verse 32.
It says, “for you are not to profane the holy things of the people of Israel, or you will die“.
If this process from HOLY to COMMON didn’t occur, the common Levites would be constantly violating the commandment that prohibited the eating of HOLY food outside of the HOLY Tabernacles boundaries.
If this happened, neither they nor their families would have been able to eat.
However, the Priests weren’t given that kind of flexibility.
Whatever the Priests ate ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE EATEN ON THE TABERNACLE GROUNDS or they would have been “profaning the holy things“.