To promote the assembling of the people for religious service, as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord declared, “I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel.” Numbers 18:21. The second tithe, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank offering to God and a portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate.
Every third year this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor. This tithe would provide a fund for charity and hospitality.
And further provision was made for the poor. After recognition of the claims of God, nothing more distinguishes the laws given by Moses than the liberal, tender, and hospitable spirit enjoined toward the poor. Although God had promised to bless His people, He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food.
The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor’s field, orchard, or vineyard, and eat to satisfy his hunger.