A tenth, the proportion of a man’s income devoted to sacred purposes from time immemorial, Genesis 14:20 28:22. This was prescribed in the Mosaic law, Numbers 31:31. A twofold tithe was required of each Jewish citizen. The first consisted of one-tenth of the produce of his fields, trees, flocks, and herds, to be given to God as the sovereign Proprietor of all things and as the king of the Jews, Leviticus 27:30-32 1 Samuel 8:15,17. The proceeds of this tax were devoted to the maintenance of the Levites in their respective cities, Numbers 18:21-24. A person might pay this tax in money, adding one-fifth to its estimated value. The Levites paid a tenth part of what they received to the priests, Numbers 18:26-28. The second tithe required of each landholder was one-tenth of the nine parts of his produce remaining after the first tithe, to be expended at the tabernacle or temple in entertaining the Levites, his own family, etc., changing it first into money, if on account of his remoteness he chose to do so, Deuteronomy 12:17-19,22-29 14:22-27. Every third year a special provision was made for the poor, either out of this second tithe or in addition to it, Deuteronomy 14:28-29. These tithes were not burdensome; but the pious Israelite found himself the richer for their payment, though it does not seem to have been enforced by any legal penalties. The system of tithes was renewed both before and after the captivity, 2 Chronicles 31:5,6,12 Nehemiah 10:37 12:44 13:5; but they were not always regularly paid, and hence the divine blessing was withheld, Malachi 3:8-12. The Pharisees were scrupulously exemplary in paying their tithes, but neglected the more important duties of love to God and man, Matthew 23:23.
The principle of the ancient tithes, namely, that ministers of the gospel and objects of benevolence should be provided for by the whole people of God, according to their means, is fully recognized in Scripture as applicable to the followers of Christ. He sent his servants forth, two and two, without provisions or purses, to receive their support from the people, since "the laborer is worthy of his hire," Matthew 10:9-14 Luke 10:4-8,16. Paul also reasons in the same way, 1 Corinthians 9:13,14 Galatians 6:6. For purpose of piety and beneficence, he directed the Corinthians, and virtually all Christians, to lay aside from their income, on the first day of the week, as the Lord had prospered them, 1 Corinthians 16:2. There is no reason to doubt that the early Christians gave more freely of their substance than did the ancient Jews, Acts 4:34-36 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'TITHE'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".