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Bible Studies/deuteronomy 12;17-18


QUESTION: Hello and thank you for taking my question

    I am reading the bible from start to finish and I just came across this passage in Deuteronomy 12:17 - 18 "You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18 but you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place that the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter,"

    I have no idea what this means - I would like to know what it is saying and what law was in place previous to this. Thank you


ANSWER: Dear Pete,

Sometimes, the context of the passage helps, and it does here. However it doesnít answer the entire question. Letís look at the context and see what it has to say before going elsewhere.

Deut. 12:13  Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;
Deut. 12:14  but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
Deut. 12:15  "However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike.
Deut. 12:16  Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water.
Deut. 12:17  You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand.
Deut. 12:18  But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands.
Deut. 12:19  Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.
God is explaining the importance of what to do in regards to the people and the sanctuary:

1. Verses 13, 14: Donít offer offerings in any place other than at the Tabernacle. There were some exceptions to this, such as when priests and prophets offered them according to Godís instructions. (Samuel offered sacrifices in several places; Elijah offered a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel)

2. Verse 15: This gives permission to eat animals anywhere for foodóboth people who are unclean and those who are clean. This is for the purpose of daily food.

3. Verse 16: Eating blood is never authorized. Pour it out on the ground.

4. Verses 17, 18: The tithe was given to the Levites as their portion of the inheritance (Lev. 27:30-33). However the tithe mentioned here is a second tithe, and it is to be eaten at the Tabernacle at one of the feasts. God points out, in verse 19, that the people were to include the Levites in their feasts. (Itís interesting to note that the Israelites gave fully 20% of their income to the Lord, and that doesnít include their sin offerings, thank offerings, etc. When you factor those in, the faithful Israelite would be giving nearly 25% to the Lord. [Taxes would be in addition. Sometimes they gave fully half of their income to the state and to the Lord] And yet, they were blessed if they were faithful in this, and they had more than any other nation.)

Another thing about tithing is that it is still required today.

Mal. 3:8  "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.
Mal. 3:9  You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
Mal. 3:10  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Mal. 3:11  "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;
Mal. 3:12  And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

Several things appear here.

1. If we fail to return the tithe we are robbing God. (God, elsewhere points out that He owns the earth and everything in it. He only asks us to return 10% of our increase to Him as tithe. Pretty good plan, given what He says next.)

2. Weíre cursed if we withhold it.

3. But God says that if we return it, He will pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive.Ē He even goes so far as to keep away from us those things that destroy our goods
4. When His people followed this plan ďall nations will call you blessed.Ē
But this is in the Old Testament, you may say. What about the fact that we live in New Testament times?

Paul says:

1Cor. 9:13  Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?
1Cor. 9:14  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

So the references re: tithe in the Old Testament are to be followed now as well. This refers to the 1st tithe, but not necessarily to the 2nd tithe. The 2nd tithe is voluntary offerings, although Iíve known people who follow this too, and they seem to be especially blessed.

Iíve been tithing all my life, and Iíve never known want. In fact, there are several times Iíve noticed a particular blessing I didnít expect, such as when the Lord sustaining us during a 4-month period of unemployment.

Your second question about what law this replaces: Actually there is no other place I know that the 2nd tithe is replacing another law. It seems to be a requirement put in place for the land of Canaan
However, the initial tithe was mentioned in Genesis in connection with Abraham:

Gen. 14:18  Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
Gen. 14:19  And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
Gen. 14:20  And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham had just returned, with his men, from the war against the enemies of Sodom and Gomorrah, and had recaptured all the people and things that the enemy had taken. Melchizedek met them and treated the weary warriors. Melchizedek was not only a king, but he was also a priest of ďGod most High.Ē

Iím happy to hear that your reading through the Bible. God will bless you as you learn and practice the many things you find. You should remember, though that most of the tabernacle services pointed forward to Christ, and many of them expired when Christ died on the cross.

I recommend for your reading the book Patriarchs and Prophets by E. G. White. Iíve found that itís extremely helpful in understanding the Pentateuch, etc. You can read it online at  If you prefer a hard copy, I can get you one.

Thanks for your question.

Thurman Petty

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: so let me understand this: these are rules to include the levites in the israelites daily eating of meat as opposed to before when they only had to include them when they bought meat to the tabernacle to be sacrificed? This is very confusing.

Dear Pete,
God was forbidding them from offering sacrifices anywhere but in the tabernacle (vss. 13 & 14).

In verse 15 God points out that the regular killing of animals for food was OK. In other words, this had nothing to do with sacrifices.

In verse 16 God points out that they are not to eat blood.

In Verses 17, 18 God deals with the 2nd tithe which they were to bring to the tabernacle at one of the feasts FOR THE PURPOSE OF sharing it with friends, neighbors and Levites.

In verse 19, God encourages them not to forget the Levites in their daily lives.

In order to understand verses 17, 18 you have to include the whole passageóverses 13-19.


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Thurman C. Petty, Jr.


I`ve been a Pastor and Bible teacher for 40 years.


I`m a writer--author of 18 Bible-based books and over 200 journal articles. Web site: where a lot of my books and writings are posted. I've been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years. We're more in love now than when we married. My wife and I were missionaries to Pitcairn Island, in the South Pacific, from 1982-1984.

I've been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since the age of 9.

Books: Pacific Press Publishing Association; PettyPress. Number of titles published: 16. Journal Articles: Adventist Review; Signs of the Times; Guide Magazine; Ministry: A Journal for Clergy; Sabbath School Leadership; The Youth's Instructor; Student Movement; Cord, and others. Total Journal articles: over 200. Web Site: Contents: 18 of my books; 41 Bible study guides; over 30 sermons; Stories; poems; links to other sites, etc. E-mail address:

I have a BA and a Master`s degree--both degrees are in Biblical studies.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded the "Golden Cord" from my Alma Mater, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, for my foreign mission service.

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