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The Lord impressed me to look up the word “payed” in my Strong’s Concordance.  I have long believed that Abraham freely GAVE, rather than paid, tithes to Melchisedek, consistent with Genesis 14:20, where it specifically states that Abram GAVE Melchisedek tithes of all.  All of what? 


Hebrews 7:1: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

VERSE 2: To whom also Abraham GAVE a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also, king of Salem, which is, King of peace.

VERSE 4: Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the TENTH OF THE SPOILS.* * *Abram (as he was called before God renamed him in Genesis 17) had just fought a hard battle to set his nephew Lot free from the army which had taken him captive and looted the valuables of Sodom.  The spoils of war consisted of other people’s belongings recovered by Abram.  But to show gratitude to God for the victory won, Abram VOLUNTARILY presented Melchisedek with one-tenth (a tithe) of other people’s belongings. Abram was a very unselfish man, but it does not say Abram gave Melchisedek any of his own personal fortune, or that he ever tithes again.


The seeming contradiction appears in verse 9, where you find the only occurrence of the word “payed” (paid) in the New Testament.


VERSE 9: And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.* * *Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews uses the present tense word “receiveth” here.  During the writer’s lifetime, the Levites, Levi’s descendants, were still receiving agricultural tithes to put into the Temple storehouses.  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection inaugurated the New Covenant.  The ushering in of this better covenant (Heb.8:6) ended the need for the Levitical priesthood and also ended the need for their support system of tithed food.  But many of the Jewish Christians (not the Gentile ones) still followed the old rites of Judaism.  The Book of Hebrews was written to show them that the old system (which included the tithe) had been abolished (Heb.8:13). Sacrifices continued to be offered in the Temple by Jews until the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.


VERSE 10: For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.* * * Gentiles did not spring from the loins of Abraham, and they were not commanded to start tithing (or keep any other aspect of the Law of Moses) when they came into the church (Acts 15: 28-29).


The word “payed” in verse 9 seems to contradict the word “gave”.  Unless we examine the original Greek word translated as “payed” in English. It comes from the Greek dekatoo, which simply means “to tithe”, or “give or take a tenth”.  We have several words in our own language derived from forms of this Greek word pertaining to “ten”.  Two examples: “decade”, or a period of ten years, and “decathlon” a set of ten sporting events in the Olympics.


So “paid” doesn’t exactly occur here, in the sense of satisfying a binding obligation or debt.  The original Greek word is an action word derived from “ten”. There is a huge difference between Abraham freely GIVING Melchisedek something and PAYING him something as a debt he owed. We don’t give the landlord our rent, except in the sense of handing it over.  Handing over the rent is not a gift given out of love.  People PAY the landlord the rent money, because the consequences will be dire if they don’t! In paying your rent, the landlord could care less whether you’re forking it over joyfully.  All he’s interested in is his cash.


Voluntary tithing of just about anything, even non-edible items, could be done even before the Law.  But if  someone didn’t want to tithe before Moses, it would be no sin at all. Compulsory (have to) tithing was given to the Israelites as a law under Moses. Compulsory tithes were only taken from things you grew or raised from the land and could actually eat (Lev.27:30,32).


Strong’s Concordance is a very valuable tool in researching specific words in your Bible study. I’m thankful for the EXHAUSTIVE one my mother sent me.  It’s a huge blessing.