When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. (Deuteronomy 26:12)
The sharp eyed among you will have noticed that this is the same verse that I provided comment on in the previous post, but this time I want to draw out a different lesson from it. In the final clause, it tells us the aim of providing the tithe (or as I previously suggested, tax), is that the poor, the vulnerable would be provided for, but more than that, they would be satisfied. The Hebrew word here for satisfied does not just mean someone who has received the bare minimum - enough to repel the worst hunger cravings - no, it means someone who has received plenty, an abundance, so much so that they are filled, complete, full up, stuffed. It's the same word used in Deut 31:20 when the authors describes the land flowing with milk and honey, or Nehemiah 9:25 when they ate to their fill and "grew fat". It's a word that conjures up the idea of the extravagant God who turns water into wine, who feeds 5,000 with so much that 12 baskets full are left over. It is a God of plenitude. This is how things are meant to be.
Yet, if I compare that picture to the one we see in our own society today, I am aware of a stark difference. On the day that I wrote this, there was a news report that many women on universal credit are so short of funds that they resort to sex work to make up for their lack of funds. That is not a society in which those who receive the fruit of our taxes are 'satisfied', that is a society that pay taxes to furnish the poor with the bare minimum needed for survival. And that is why campaigning for tax justice matters
The Bible And Tax - Revd David Haslam's in-depth exploration of the Biblical precedents for the Tax Justice Campaign with reference to both the Old and New Testaments and to theologian Ched Myers' ideas of 'Sabbath Economics'. Physical copies can be purchased at a cost of £1 per copy, £5 for 6 or £10 for 12. Email us at mail (at) catj.org.uk for more information..