Has anyone compiled a list of how much the Israelites were to give?




Has anyone compiled a list of how much the Israelites were to give: tithes, offerings, firstlings, sacrifices, etc.?

I assume from the way this question is worded that the desire is for a compilation of all the sacrifices and offerings that an Israelite would give under the law of Moses.  I am also assuming that the obvious reply of "sure, the book of Leviticus" is not what was wanted.   I have not found anyone with a quick reference chart, if that was the intent.

I had heard of someone several years ago who had chosen to compile such a list, but I have not been able to locate it.  If I remember correctly, the purpose of compiling the list was to show that the Israelites were told to start giving at 10% and then to show that the sum total of what they gave to God far exceeded that. If the purpose of such a list is to combine the numbers to use as a starting "percentage" for comparison purposes, it is likely to be flawed or chock full of simplifying assumptions.  For example,  while an Israelite might bring a fellowship offering to the Lord, both the family of the one offering the sacrifice and the priest and his family shared in the sacrifice (Leviticus 7:11-18).  So, while it was still considered a sacrifice to God, it was also an opportunity to eat rather well for the day.  The problem then comes in trying to estimate how often the average Israelite would offer a fellowship offering to God, which of the differing types of animals he would dedicate, and how much such a sacrifice was in proportion to his wealth.

Running a couple of scenarios:  A poor man makes $100.  He gives $10 to God and also buys two doves for $2 and offers a fellowship offering.  He gets to eat for the day, so that is worth $0.20 to him.  We therefore give him "credit" for $11.80 (which because I used easy numbers comes out to 11.8%).  A rich man makes $100,000, gives $10,000 as a tithe and sacrifices 20 oxen (at $100 each) at various times of the year as fellowship offerings.  He happens to have a family of 10, so the the oxen provide a pretty good meal -- say $40 worth each time.  His total is $11,200 or 11.2%. 

All you have to do is look at all of the assumptions that I made in my two scenarios to realize that the whole equation is highly dependent on the numbers that I chose.  This is one of those times where it is impractical to draw any meaningful conclusions about the total percentage given.

Darrell Hamilton

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Old Testament
Questions and Answers regarding Sacrifice