Next Luke had the Lord Jesus curse the Pharisees the way that Matthew had done. Jesus said woe to them, the Pharisees (ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις)! They had paid their tithes (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε) of mint (τὸ ἡδύοσμον), rue (καὶ τὸ πήγανον), and every kind of herb (καὶ πᾶν λάχανον). However, they had neglected (καὶ παρέρχεσθε) justice (τὴν κρίσιν) and the love of God (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ). They ought to practice these things (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι), without neglecting the other things (κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι). This is like Matthew, chapter 23:23, where Jesus cursed the Pharisees and the Scribes. Matthew indicated that Jesus said woe to them because of their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants, instead of the more serious matters of the law. Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice, mercy, and faith. They should have spent more time on these issues without neglecting the other things. This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities, with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law itself. Luke had almost the same critique here, but the tithing herbs are slightly different. He also wanted their concerns to be about justice and God’s love. Otherwise the critique was pretty much the same. Do you neglect justice and mercy in your life?
Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15. The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew. Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)! Scribes (γραμματεῖς)! Woe to you! Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)! Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)! There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees. This time it was their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου). Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν). They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι). This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.
“King Hezekiah commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, so that they might devote themselves to the law of Yahweh. As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. They brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep. They brought in the tithe of the dedicated things which had been consecrated to Yahweh their God, and laid them in heaps. In the third month they began to pile up the heaps. They finished them in the seventh month. When King Hezekiah and the officials came and saw the heaps, they blessed Yahweh and his people Israel. King Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. The chief priest Azariah, who was of the house of Zadok, answered him. ‘Since they began to bring the contributions into the house of Yahweh we have had enough to eat and have plenty to spare. Yahweh has blessed his people, so that we have this great supply left over.’”
However, King Hezekiah wanted the people in Jerusalem and Judah to tithe to the Temple Levites, so that they could devote themselves to Yahweh. The response of the people was very positive as they brought in the first fruits of the field and the livestock. 10% was given to the Levites and priests. The Levites and priests had so much they had a surplus of goods. They had piles of food and plenty to eat with leftovers.
“Then Yahweh spoke to Moses. ‘You shall speak to the Levites, when you receive from the Israelites the tithe that I have given you from them for your portion, you shall set apart an offering from it to Yahweh, a tithe of the tithe. It shall be reckoned to you as your gift, the same as the grain of the threshing floor and the fullness of the wine press. Thus you shall set apart an offering to Yahweh from all the tithes that you receive from the Israelites. From them you shall give Yahweh’s offering to the priest Aaron. Out of all the gifts to you, you shall set apart every offering due to Yahweh. The best of all of them is the part to be consecrated. Say also to them that when you have set apart the best of it, then the rest shall be reckoned to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor and the wine press. You may eat it any place, you and your households. For it is your payment for your service in the tent of meeting. You shall incur no guilt by reason of it, when you have offered the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the Israelites, on pain of death.’”
So what is this tithing? This time, Yahweh spoke to Moses who was to tell the Levites, that when they received the tithe they had to present an offering to Yahweh as a tithe of the tithe. From all the 10% that they got, they had to set aside 10% of the best part for Yahweh that went to Aaron, the priest. The Levites could eat it any place with their household. This was their payment for their service in the tent of meeting. As long as they presented the best to Aaron there would be no guilt and no profanation of the holy gifts of the Israelites. However, any disobedience meant death.
“All tithe from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are Yahweh’s. They are holy to Yahweh. If persons wish to redeem any of their tithes, they must add one-fifth to it. All tithes of herd and flock, every tenth one that passes under the shepherd’s staff shall be holy to Yahweh. Let no one inquire whether it is good or bad, or make substitution for it. Then both it and the substitute shall be holy and cannot be redeemed. These are the commandments that Yahweh gave to Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.”
Tithing or 10% belonged to Yahweh, whether seeds or fruits. If they wanted to redeem their tithing, they would have to pay a 20% add on cost. Apparently passing under the shepherd’s staff was how the counting of 10% was done for the animal herds and flocks. There are no substitutions. Finally, in case there was any doubt, these are the commandments that Yahweh gave to Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.