Yet with a Steady Beat: Contemporary U.S. Afrocentric Biblical Interpretation

By Randall C. Bailey | Go to book overview

TRIENNIAL TITHES AND THE UNDERDOG:
A REVISIONIST READING OF DEUTERONOMY
14:22–29 AND 26:12–15*

Harold V. Bennett Morehouse College

Deuteronomy 14:22–29 and 26:12–15 treat the allocation of grain, fruit, wine, and meat in the biblical communities. These legal injunctions list the almanah, ger, and yatom together, and they provide guidelines on the offering of public relief to these types of persons. Since these codes list these types of people together, it is plausible that they shared a distinctive social characteristic. Further, these legal injunctions proffer food to these people; consequently, it is likely that these persons were a category of socially weak, vulnerable human beings and that these laws affected the predicament of this social subgrouping in ancient Israel. Deuteronomy 14:22–29 states:

22 You must indeed tithe all your crops that the field brings forth each
year.23 You will eat them in the place that Yahweh will choose, the place
where the divine name is present. You will give a tithe of your grain,
new wine, fresh oil, and the firstborn of your small and large cattle, so
that you will learn to fear Yahweh your God forever.24 If the place is too
far away, and you are unable to carry the tithe,25 exchange the tithe for
silver; bind it in your hand and go to the place that Yahweh your God
will choose.26 You may give the silver for whatever you desire, for large
or small cattle, wine, or strong drink; you and your household will eat
and rejoice there before Yahweh your God.27 Do not abandon the Levite,
since he has neither portion nor inheritance among you.28 At the end of
three years, bring all the tithe of your increase and leave it in your gates.
29 The Levite, since he has neither portion nor inheritance among you,
the stranger, orphan, and widow will come; they will eat and be satis-
fied, so that Yahweh your God will bless you in everything you do.

* An expanded form of this essay appears in my injustice Made Legal: Deuteronomic
Law and the Plight of Widows, Strangers, and Orphans in Ancient Israel
(Grand Rapids: Eerd-
mans, 2002).

-7-

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