Difference Between Tithes and Firstfruits (With Table)

There are several theories that vouch for the origin of humankind. One of them is that God created human beings and granted them life. For this, we worship him every day and give offerings to him. In some way, it can be considered as a return gift of sorts.

A tithe and firstfruits are offerings that are given to God. These offerings are the gratitude of people for all of what God does for them. The first evidence of tithing and firstfruits can be found in the Book of Genesis. It is one of the earliest books known to mankind.

Tithes vs Firstfruits

The difference between tithe and firstfruits is that a tithe is a ten per cent tax levied on people by the church but firstfruits are a celebration where a person offers their first harvest to God. These traditions are mainly carried out by men and women do not take part in it.

Comparison Table Between Tithes and Firstfruits

Parameters of ComparisonTitheFirstfruit
OriginThe tithe originated in the Ancient Near East during ancient times.The firstfruit originated in Israel at the time of Thanksgiving.
ReasonA tithe can be considered as a tax that was demanded by the church, the monarchs or the governing bodies.Firstfruit is a celebration on Thanksgiving that includes giving grain to a priest.
MethodTithe can be in any form, it may be monetary, in form of grains, meat or any produce that you are associated with.Firstfruit usually entails bringing a bundle of grain to the priest.
Modern UsageToday, the tithe has been replaced by taxes that can only be paid monetarily.Today, firstfruits are given in the form of any products that you can give to a priest.
AmountThe tithe has to be the tenth amount of what you have produced.Firstfruit is usually seen a being charitable and hence any first produce works.

What is Tithe?

A tithe is the one-tenth part of something that is paid to religious organizations or the government. In earlier times, tithes were paid in the form of agricultural produce, but now they are paid in the form of cash or cheques. ‘Tithe’ literally means ‘tenth’ in Hebrew. A tithe is primarily a religious belief of Christians and Jews.

The concept behind tithe is giving back a part of what earned due to God’s help. Many proverbs in the Bible talk about tithing. Offering a tithe to God helps us let go of our selfishness. It also helps the local church and the pastor to make a living.

The origin of the first tithe can be traced back to the time when God accepted a tithe from Abraham and Jacob. Since then the system has been in existence and still continues. A tithe was mandatory and not an option. It was later distributed to help the poor. 

The tithe is to be carried to Jerusalem by who has offered it and then to be eaten with a sincere heart. If they cannot go to Jerusalem then a sum of money can be offered instead to redeem it. You can only offer a tithe in the traditional manner if you live in Israel. 

What is Firstfruits?

Firstfruit is a religious offering to the gods. It is in the form of the first agricultural produce of the harvest. These offerings are usually seen in the Greek, Roman and Hebrew religions. The African American holiday of Kwanzaa is the harvest festival derived from firstfruits.

Along with the harvest, it was customary to give a drink, a meal and a burnt offering to the priest. The festival of firstfruits is observed in the month of Spring when the crop is ready to harvest. It happens after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover.

Firstfruits symbolises the process of how God harvests our souls. It is the way of giving back God what he has granted to us. The first fruit offering was given in the memory of Egypt when they got their freedom from slavery and got back their land. Firstfruits is also observed to calculate the time for the Feast of Weeks. 

Firstfruits cannot be celebrated by women. They can be offered by men in temples by reciting an avowal. After the recital, a feast is held with pilgrims marching up and conducting processions. 

Main Differences Between Tithes and Firstfruits

  1. Tithes originated in the ancient Near East while firstfruits originated in Israel.
  2. Tithes were invented for the purpose of exacting taxes while firstfruit originated due to religious reasons.
  3. Tithe can be in the form of money, grain or meat, whatever is produced by the person. Firstfruit, on the other hand, is always a bundle of grain.
  4. There’s a specific amount (10%) of tithe to be paid, while any amount of the first harvest can be given to a priest in firstfruit.
  5. Tithes were a compulsion while firstfruits were considered charitable. Under special circumstances, the tithe amount could be decreased.

Conclusion

A tithe and firstfruits both have the fact in common that they are religious offerings. While tithe is a ten per cent tax paid to the church, firstfruits are mainly planned as a feast. This subtle difference makes the offering of firstfruits more faith-nurturing than its counterpart.

Firstfruits are mentioned several times in the Seventh Testament and a tithe in the Book of Genesis. God has no value for material wealth hence these offerings contained grains, drinks and fruits. After offering the tithe and firstfruits to God, it is eaten.

God does not force anyone to give more than their capabilities. If a person does not have the financial state to contribute even ten per cent, then they may choose not to. All that matters in firstfruits and a tithe is heartfelt gratitude.

References

  1. http://cbfa-jbib.org/index.php/jbib/article/download/373/374
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1155216
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/179032
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