Sense of the Day: Tithe


Sense: tithe

n. — an offering of a tenth part of one’s possessions; including produce and livestock.

Bring the full tithe [מַעֲשֵׂר] into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

Malachi 3:10 (NRSV)

Many have misinterpreted this verse from Malachi as a guarantee of blessing for the tither. Yet the Bible Sense Lexicon concordance for “tithe,” as well as the related sense “to tithe” (which we see when we enter “tithe” into the BSL search box), quickly reveals this to be mistaken. We easily find a number of passages in both testaments demonstrating that a tithe can be a mere external. In Amos 4:4 we read, “Come to Bethel—and transgress; to Gilgal—and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; . . .” Those who multiply transgressions and tithe are liable to judgment, not blessing. This becomes all the more important when we are familiar with the social aspect of Amos’s message,  such as the mention of oppressing the poor and crushing the needy in 4:1. In the entry for “to tithe,” we find three example verses that refer to the tithe as a mere external in Matthew 22:23, Luke 11:42, and Luke 18:12. When Malachi 3:10 is seen in its wider context, we can clearly see that it is not a guarantee.

What is the Bible Sense Lexicon?

Sense of the Day is based on content from Logos’ Bible Sense Lexicon, which organizes biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words by meaning based on a variety of semantic relationships. Sense of the Day provides examples of senses in context, along with insight into their application for theology and interpretation.

The Bible Sense Lexicon is a Logos dataset available in Logos 5 Gold and higher base packages. If you’re enrolled in the Logos Academic Discount Program, you can also find the Bible Sense Lexicon in the Biblical Languages base package. Take your studies even further by exploring semantic domains, engaging the biblical text like never before.

Learn more about the Bible Sense Lexicon.

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Written by
Jonathan Watson
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Written by Jonathan Watson