First mention of the tithe

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted January 30, 2017

This post is designed to supplement my blog entitled “Are you tithing to your local church?” It makes clear that tithing antedated the giving of the law by over four centuries.[1]

Chedorlaomer, king of Elam (later western Persia, now western Iran), put together a grand alliance consisting of his own forces and those of three other kings: Amraphel king of Shinar; Arioch king of Ellasar; and Tidal king of nations. This alliance made war on and subjugated Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and Zoar king of Bela.

These five kings served Chedorlaomer for twelve years, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year, Chedorlaomer’s alliance appeared again and smote first the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzims in Ham, the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, the Horites in Mount Seir, the Amalekites in their country, and the Amorites in Hazezon-tamar. Then they entered the vale of Siddim (a valley which probably extended from Jericho in the north to Elath and Aqaba in the south) and attacked the original group, which had rebelled: the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela.

They plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, and they took away with them both people and goods – including Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, and his goods.

When Abram heard that Lot was taken captive, he armed three hundred and eighteen of his servants, whom he had trained, and pursued Chedorlaomer to Dan (now Baalbek). Splitting his own forces, he attacked the alliance by night, smote them, and then pursued them to the neighborhood of Damascus, where he finally slaughtered them and recaptured all the people and goods that they had taken, including Lot.

As Abram returned from his great victory, he was met at the valley of Shaveh by the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine – he was the priest of the most high God – and he blessed Abram and said, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And Abram gave Melchizedek tithes of all.

And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.”  And Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,  That I will not [take] from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that [is] thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:  Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.”

 © 2017 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] According to my chronology, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in the 1880s BC, whereas God delivered the law to Moses in 1464 BC – approximately 420 years later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *