Daily Word

Temple Tithe | Nehemiah 10:32-34

32 “In addition, we promise to obey the command to pay the annual Temple tax of one-eighth of an ounce of silver for the care of the Temple of our God. 33 This will provide for the Bread of the Presence; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, the new moon celebrations, and the annual festivals; for the holy offerings; and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel. It will provide for everything necessary for the work of the Temple of our God.

34 “We have cast sacred lots to determine when—at regular times each year—the families of the priests, Levites, and the common people should bring wood to God’s Temple to be burned on the altar of the Lord our God, as is written in the Law.

Nehemiah 10:32-34 (NLT)

Details continue

Yesterday began a detailed list of new behaviors the Israelites solemnly committed themselves to, starting with, what I believe, were the most common and grievous. Now they move onto the rest of the details.

Temple Tithe

They promised to pay the temple tithe / tax. It was, in part, a practical means to support upkeep of the temple and the activities associated with worship – the offerings, etc..  But if you read the text in Exodus 30:11-16, it was originally “a ransom for himself to the Lord”. The context was the exodus from Egypt. God had just delivered them from Egypt and was giving rules for their living in the land. Whenever they did a census, they were to collect this tithe/tax. It later became the “Temple Tax”, the same one Jesus referred to in the miracle of the fish in Matthew 17:24-27.

  • The action was intended to remind them that they had been ransomed from destruction and to keep them from a plague of judgment. Everyone, rich or poor, paid the same amount “because it was a ransom for their souls; and the souls of the poor and the rich were of like value, and stood equally in need of redemption; for all were equally fallen, and all had come equally short of the glory of God.” Clarke’s commentary
  • The amount of tithe was “a third of a shekel” but originally it was half a shekel. Bible commentators suggest that the dire situation of the returnees demanded a reduction in the amount, lest the poorest of the poor not be able to afford it. 

Would you give wood?

What an honor to supply wood to the house of God. The wood you contribute would be used for the sacrifices that cleansed you of sin and pointed to the coming sacrifice of Christ. Clarke’s commentary offers more explanation of this service.

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