For my write-up today on E.P. Sanders' Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah, I'll talk briefly about Sanders' discussion of the Temple tax, tithes, and offerings in Second Temple Judaism and the Mishnah.
essentially says that the tithe only applied to the land of Israel,
which accounts for rabbinic discussions about what tithe laws applied to
Syria and whether Syria was a part of Israel (yet see my post here).
But Jews in the Diaspora sent Temple tax to the Temple, Sanders states,
along with other offerings. On page 298, Sanders says that the
Diaspora Jews sent aparchai, which may mean "firstfruits".
Sanders defines firstfruits as "a token contribution, given to thank God
for his much greater bounty". But does not Deuteronomy 26 require
Israelites to present their firstfruits at the sanctuary, which is
different from sending the firstfruits to the Temple? Sanders says that
the Diaspora Jews probably didn't think that they were fulfilling
Deuteronomy 26, but they may have felt that they were keeping "the
spirit of the law".
Another consideration: Tithing continued even
after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. On page 46, Sanders
refers to Tosefta Peah 4:3, which "represents priests and Levites as
standing by the threshing floor waiting to collect" (Sanders' words).
Sanders says that this passage is probably post-70.
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