The tithing Temple obligations (Neh 10:32-10:39)

We also lay upon ourselves the obligation to charge ourselves yearly one-third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God. This was to pay for the rows of bread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed festivals, the sacred donations, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. We have also cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, by ancestral houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn upon the altar of Yahweh our God, as it is written in the law. We obligate ourselves to bring the first fruits of our soil and the first fruits of every tree, year by year, to the house of Yahweh. We will also bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the first-born males of our livestock, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks. We will bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God. We will bring to the Levites the tithes from our soil. The Levites will collect the tithes in all our rural towns. The priest, the descendent of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. The Levites shall bring up a tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, to the storehouse. The people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the storehouses, where the vessels of the sanctuary are. That is where the priests that minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers are. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

The Temple in Jerusalem will be the center of worship. They are each going to give 1/3 of a shekel, the Temple tax, about the equivalent of $2.00 USA. The bread and the burnt offerings come from Leviticus, chapter 24, and Numbers, chapter 26. The bringing of wood is a new idea here. The first fruits concept comes from Deuteronomy, chapter 26. The offering of the first born male of the livestock comes from Exodus, chapter 13. However, the first part of dough, wine, and oil was not in Exodus. The Levites would collect the tithes in all the rural towns, based on Numbers, chapter 18. There is a clear procedure of how the tithes are to be brought from the rural areas to the Temple. The priests, the gatekeepers, and the singers should not be neglected. The house of God should not be neglected.

The first-born males (Ex 13:11-13:16)

“When Yahweh has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your ancestors, and had given it to you, you shall set apart to Yahweh all that first opens the womb.  All the first-born of your livestock that are males shall be Yahweh’s.  But every first-born donkey you shall redeem with a sheep.  If you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. Every first-born among your children you shall redeem.  When in the future your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall answer, ‘By strength of his hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, Yahweh killed all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from human first-born to the first-born of animals.  Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh every male that first opens the womb, but every first-born of my sons I redeem.  It shall serve as a sign on your hand and as an emblem on your forehead that by the strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt.”

This is another older tradition about the first-born.  This time it is explicit about the first born male.  An ancient tradition says that you offer to God the first born for fertility purposes.  However, you can substitute a sheep for a donkey.  In some cases, the first-born animal would take the place of the human first-born.  If you do not substitute or redeem the first-born animal, you must break its neck.   The explanation is simple in relation to the Exodus.  In the future when your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall answer that Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, Yahweh killed the first-born in the land of Egypt.  Therefore we sacrifice to Yahweh every male that first opens the womb, but every firstborn of my sons you redeem.