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Should You Tithe Based on Persian Era Imperial Policies?

January 30, 2013

This church bulletin comes with a loophole for those who don’t like tithing very much:

http://i.imgur.com/1TEsU1q.jpg

Apparently: Tithing math is hard!

While this bulletin made me laugh it also got me thinking about a  bigger issue: should texts authored in the political, religious, and societal upheaval of Persian era Yehud be normative for persons today?

I guess we should start by explaining Yehud, and the socio-historical context of Malachi:

Yehud Medinata (Aramaic for “the province of Judah”), Yahud Medin’ta/Yahud Medinsa,[1] or simply Yehud, was a province of the Achaemenid (ancient Persia) empire, roughly equivalent to the older kingdom of Judah but covering a smaller area, within the satrapy of Eber-Nari. The region corresponded to the Babylonian province with the same name, formed after the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Neo-Babylonian Empire (c.597 after its conquest of the Mediterranean east coast, and again in 585/6 BCE after suppressing an unsuccessful Judean revolt). [LINK]

It is in this period that many of the books of the Hebrew Bible were written. And it is this socio-historical context that sheds light on the function of these texts within the communities that used them.

Malachi, quoted above to substantiate modern tithing practices, was written in the Persian period, which was an era of extreme change in Abar Nahara and Yehud. Self-interested Persian policies changed with the different emperors, and only those who were sympathetic with the Persian overlords were allowed to govern in the provinces. This included Yehud and the building of  a Temple in Jerusalem to stimulate the economy and collect  larger taxes for the Persians. However, during this period there were also Persian emperors that removed Temple funding from their foreign policies significantly stressing the infrastructure of such an establishment. It is during one of these lean periods for the Temple authorities that I imagine “prophecies” like Malachi’s developed.

In Yehud there were prosperous times of direct imperial intervention (very likely heightened during conflicts in Egypt), but also periods of little Persian influence; there were times of imperial funding for building projects (money coming in and out), but also times of heavy taxation (money going out).

Cyrus the great monument at Sydney Olympic Park

Cyrus the great monument at Sydney Olympic Park

Persia preferred to rule its provinces, including Yehud, through governors, and possibly religious leaders. In Yehud, those with ethnic ties to the land were sent back with imperial power to implement imperial policies which were favourable to the empire.[2] Generally then, in the texts the elite of Yehud authored, we find positive references to their Persian overlords (Cyrus is even referred to as meshiach, Isa 45:1). However, the point of this system of rule was to profit the empire, therefore, even in the ‘memoirs’ of the Persian appointed governor Nehemiah we find a reflection of the memory of oppressive imperial taxes where supposedly some even lost their homes and children to pay their taxes (Neh 5:1-5).

In addition, Yehud very likely experienced significant social, ethnic, and religious upheaval. Social upheaval, generated by the return of a group of persons with ties to the land who were empowered to govern; ethnic upheaval, from a possible program of endogamy; and religious upheaval, by a new single temple religion.

The function of texts such as Genesis, Malachi, or Nehemiah then, is an attempt to normalize and authenticate the new social circumstances most of the society found themselves in by appealing to paradigmatic situations from the past and recontextualizing them for their present state of affairs.

Persian imperial policy created an environment of conflict in Yehud between the “people of the land” and the societal elite empowered to implement imperial policies. The changing environment in Jerusalem can be demonstrated with a brief review of the first five Persian emperors.[1] (For more extensive reading materials on Persian Yehud there are further resources in the footnotes below)

The first emperor, Cyrus, the ‘anointed’ one, made some sort of allowance for those with ethnic roots in the province of Yehud to return to their homeland.[3] This decision arose from Cyrus beginning a program of economic intensification and expansion in the empire.

Standard of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Ac...

Standard of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire.

As opposed to the Babylonians before him who centralized their government, Cyrus attempted to expand his kingdom’s borders and strengthen the periphery.[4] Very likely, upon Cyrus’ initial decree there were very few returnees, and the changes in Yehud were gradual; however it is presumable that there was some social conflict between the returnees and those who remained in the land. Ultimately, Cyrus’ goal in allowing those with ethnic ties return to Yehud was increased economic prosperity for the empire.

Cyrus’ son Cambyses followed him to the throne, and mostly followed his father’s economic and imperial program. Cambyses had little effect in Yehud beyond raising taxes to fund his wars against the Egyptians. The lack of imperial interest during this period in the tiny colony, “offered an opportunity for slow, steady change throughout Yehud, probably including the assimilation of the immigrants.”[5]

Upon the death of Cambyses a new type of ruler ascended to the throne from the Achaemenid family, Darius, whose extended rule had significant impact on the empire and in Yehud. There were three important innovations of Darius that impacted the province of Yehud.

First, Darius reorganized the empire’s satrapies, and Yehud became a subprovince in the satrapy of Abar Nahahra (Beyond the River) which included Syria, Phonecia, Palestine, and Cyprus.[6]

Second, Darius commanded the temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Darius, sent a noble in Persia with ethnic roots in Yehud, Zerubbabel, to oversee this project along with the high priest Yeshua. The construction of the Second Temple had significant religious and social impact—which will be further pursued below—however, there were economic and political reasons for Darius’ requiring such an edifice. With a loyal Persian governor in Jerusalem overseeing the temple, economically the building acted as a center for the collection of taxes for the empire.

During his reign, Darius engaged in a battle to reclaim Egypt for the empire, and in the process, brought his forces through Abar Nahara and very close to Yehud.A small diorama/model of what the temple in Je... Politically then, the temple in Jerusalem allowed for a centralized place for his servants to collect monies to fund his campaign, and Berquist suggests, food to feed his armies during the Egyptian campaign.[7] There is also some evidence that Darius funded Temples elsewhere during his campaigns in an effort to religiously propagandize regions enabling him to capture them without force.

Third, while Darius was a reformer politically and economically in the empire, he may have also been a reformer concerning legal matters. The theory of Persian imperial authorization of the Torah has been a successful hypothesis in recent scholarship.[8] Darius has been referred to as the ‘lawgiver’, and some have suggested that it was under the auspices of the Persian emperor that certain laws were codified in Yehud. However, “It was customary for the Persians to respect local law, as long as it did not interfere with the law of the imperial overlord.”[9] This aspect of imperial policy was “the insistence on local self-governance inscribed primarily in a codified and standardized corpus of traditional law backed by the central government and its regional representatives.”[10]

A parallel for Darius’ involvement in codifying local laws comes from the Demotic Chronicle in which Darius orders the satrap of Egypt to send him “Wise individuals from the ranks of warriors, priests, and scribes” to compile “the law of Pharaoh, the temples and the people.”[11]

Winged sphinx from Darius' palace at Susa.

Winged sphinx from Darius’ palace at Susa.

While the situation in Yehud is not so clear, because of the uniformity in Persian policy and its close proximity to Egypt in the same satrapy it is plausible to consider something similar happening in Yehud (cf. Ezra 7:25-26).[12] This is not to suggest that the final form of Torah appeared during the reign of Darius, but to show possibly the beginnings of the codification of laws in Yehud, some of which may have been innovative, or reflected the needs and concerns of a sub-group within the society, thereby, adding to social conflicts in Yehud.

After Darius’ death Xerxes became emperor and employed different methods throughout the empire than his predecessor. While Xerxes’ primary focus was largely on the independence of Egypt and Greece, the biggest effect his reign had on Yehud was the removal of funding for the temple. This removal of local funding was also combined with a tax structure that increasingly favored Persians which necessitated the taxing of foreign colonies to fund Persian building programs and economic intensification programs.[13] Xerxes’ imperial policies led to a general decline among the provinces of the empire as their local economies became increasingly more stressed, which may have led to a revolt in Egypt, and possibly some isolation in Yehud.

The last significant emperor for this post is Artaxerxes. Artaxerxes came to power after the assassination of his father and brother. Like many of the emperors before him Artaxerxes was involved in disputes with Egypt and was interested in Yehud for economic gains and military strategy. Early in the reign of Artaxerxes, the Persian general Megabyzus brought his Persian forces near Yehud on its way south to challenge an Egyptian-Greek alliance. It is during this period it seems that Artaxerxes sent strong governors to the once again border colony of Yehud to strengthen its defenses. Artaxerxes also reversed Xerxes’ policy concerning temple funding and may have used the economic support of the temple and religion propagandistically like Darius before him. However, while there may have been significant imperial funding and administrative support during the first part of Artaxerxes reign, upon the defeat of the Egyptians, Yehud may have found itself, once again, an underfunded and overtaxed poor colony on the outskirts of the kingdom.[14]

This brief review of the early Persian history of Yehud is important in considering the function of a text such as Malachi. Persian Imperial involvement waxed and waned through the period. Persian interests in Yehud began with Cyrus and economic intensification—and this economic intensification was in the form of resources going from from Yehud to the empire—and the strengthening of the empire’s borders. However, Yehud enjoyed better economic prosperity during times of conflict between Persia and Egypt, including the funding for construction in Jerusalem of a centralized taxation center/temple, and at times the funding for the religious functionaries and imperial servants who worked there under the auspices of their imperial overlords.

However, at other times this funding was withdrawn, and the taxation center had to generate its own income to support its personnel. It is from within this socio-historical context that the words of YHWH of Hosts need to be considered: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

The priests need resources and food, so they put the “request” for it in the authority and mouth of YHWH.

And personally, I find this “challenge” from Malachi as normative for me today as I find any concerning the “Tabernacle”:

If your offering is a goat, you shall bring it before the LORD  and lay your hand on its head; it shall be slaughtered before the tent of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. You shall present as your offering from it, as an offering by fire to the LORD, the fat that covers the entrails, and all the fat that is around the entrails; the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver, which you shall remove with the kidneys.  Then the priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as a food offering by fire for a pleasing odor. All fat is the LORD’s. ~ Lev 3:12–16

That’s right: all fat is the LORD’S! Make sure to remove it from your meal the next time you’re at McDonald’s!

Though I suppose I could always try to compare the verse in Malachi with: “Do not put the LORD your God to the test…” (Deut 6:16). Um, wait?… am I supposed to test the Lord or not?

Anyways, the point is, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now: these texts come from a certain socio-historical and cultural context. To try and take them and make them normative for today doesn’t just misunderstand the original context and  intent of the text, it misuses it for alternative purposes.

Elemenope doesn’t apply to me today. The Book of the Dead doesn’t apply to me today. Enuma Elish doesn’t apply to me today. 1 Enoch doesn’t apply to me today. And attempts to feed priests and fund the Temple from Malachi does not apply to me today.

So: should you tithe based on fifth century BCE Persian Imperial policies?


[1] Sources for Persian history and Yehud: Joseph Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible (ABRL; New York: Doubleday, 1992), 239-42; Jon L. Berquist, Judaism in Persia’s Shadow: A Social and Historical Approach (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 23-120; Diana Edelman, The Origins of the ‘Second’ Temple: Persian Imperial Policy and the Rebuilding of Jerusalem (London: Equinox, 2005); Lisbeth S. Fried, The Priest and the Great King: Temple-Palace Relations in the Persian Empire (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2004); Richard N. Frye, The History of Ancient Iran (Munchen: Beck, 1983); James Maxwell Miller and John Haralson Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (OTL London: SCM Press, 1986), for a map of Abar Nahara see 461; Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming, eds., Judah and Judeans in the Persian Period (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006); A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1948); Edwin M. Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990).

I do not believe a blog post needs another detailed history of the Persian empire. Primarily, I assume three major possibilities for substantial social conflict in Yehud: the first period is during the reign of Cyrus and the return of some people with ethnic ties to the land. Cyrus’s program of economic intensification—from Yehud in the direction of the empire—may have been a setting for conflict; however, I believe this the least likely possibility.

The second period is during the reign of the third Achaemenid emperor, Darius, who commanded a temple be built in Jerusalem. Darius, sent a noble in Persia with ethnic roots in Yehud, Zerubbabel, to oversee this project along with the high priest Yeshua. The construction of the Second Temple had significant religious and social impact, however, there were economic and political reasons for Darius’ requiring such an edifice. With a loyal Persian governor in Jerusalem overseeing the temple, economically the building acted as a center for the collection of taxes for the empire which may have also led to substantial social conflict.

The third possibility is during the reign of Artaxerxes who, like many of the emperors before him, was involved in disputes with Egypt and was interested in Yehud for economic gains and military strategy. Early in the reign of Artaxerxes, the Persian general Megabyzus brought his Persian forces near Yehud on its way south to challenge an Egyptian-Greek alliance. It is during this period it seems that Artaxerxes sent strong governors to the border colony of Yehud to strengthen its defenses. Artaxerxes also reversed Xerxes’ policy concerning temple funding and may have used the economic support of the temple and religion propagandistically like Darius before him. However, while there may have been significant imperial funding and administrative support during the first part of Artaxerxes reign, upon the defeat of the Egyptians, Yehud may have found itself, once again, an underfunded and overtaxed poor colony on the outskirts of the kingdom.

[2] This does not mean that I am in favour of the contentious hypothesis of Persian imperial authorization of the Torah: Berquist, In Persia’s Shadow, 138-39; Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch, 239-42; Lester L. Grabbe Ezra-Nehemiah (London: Routledge, 1998), 149-50; Konrad Schmid, “The Persian Imperial Authorization as a Historical Problem and as a Biblical Construct: A Plea for Distinctions in the Current Debate” in The Pentatuech as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance (Gary N. Knoppers and Bernard M. Levison eds.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007), 23-38; James W. Watts, ed., Persia and Torah: The Theory of Imperial Authorization of the Pentateuch.

[3] For a review of Cyrus’ political and military history in founding the Persian empire see Richard N. Frye, The History of Ancient Iran (Munchen, 1984), 78-95; A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 34-51).

[4] Berquist, Judaism, 25.

[5] Ibid., 49

[6] James Maxwell Miller, John Haralson Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah, 460. For a map of Abar Nahara see Ibid., 461.

[7] Berquist, In Persia’s Shadow, 57-63.

[8] Konrad Schmid, “The Persian Imperial Authorization as a Historical Problem and as a Biblical Construct: A Plea for Distinctions in the Current Debate” in The Pentatuech as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance (Gary N. Knoppers and Bernard M. Levison eds.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007), 23-38; Berquist, In Persia’s Shadow, 138-39; Lester L. Grabbe Ezra-Nehemiah (London: Routledge, 1998), 149-50; Joseph Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible (New Youk: Doubleday, 1992),  239-42.

[9] Grabbe, Ezra-Nehemiah, 149

[10] Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch, 239.

[11] Lisbeth S. Fried, The Priest and the Great King: Temple-Palace Relations in the Persian Empire (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2004), 75.

[12] Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch, 240.

[13] Berquist, In Persia’s Shadow, 89.

[14] Diana Edelman argues on the basis of genealogical material in Nehemiah that either Zerubabbel and the building of the temple need to be moved to the reign of Artaxerxes, or Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem moved to the reign of Darius. Her conclusion regarding this matter is that the temple was built during the reign of Artaxerxes. Diana Edelman, The Origins of the ‘Second’ Temple: Persian Imperial Policy and the rebuilding of Jerusalem (London: Equinox, 2005). It would be interesting to reduce the political, social, and religious conflicts of Yehud to a single era, and examine some of the materials from the Hebrew Bible through such a matrix of significant innovation and political upheaval.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. phil_style permalink
    January 30, 2013 6:58 am

    Of course we know the typical evangelical response to your analysis though. This being that Jesus appears to have endorsed (a kind of) Tithing specifically in Matthew 23, when he argues for societal virtues in addition to the tithe. This appears to me, to be the “gotcha” verse that is used to distinguish Tithing from other elemental of the law which Jesus might have abandoned (aka “fulfilled” in evangelical speak).

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on a early-church understanding of Jesus’ reported words in this context, and in light of your coverage of the Yehuddic-preiod material you outlined above,

    • Peacer permalink
      January 31, 2013 2:37 pm

      I’d be interested to hear those thoughts as well. It would seem from the NT passage that you note, the jews were still tithing *agriculturally* (anise, cumin) and they were, as yet, still in a temple period before its destruction in 70 a.d. The temple tax, etc. were all still in a context of “imperial” governance, though by now Roman instead of Persian. One could argue that, even if Jesus approved the particular type of tithe practiced at that time for JEWS, it would not apply to us today — and likely did not apply to gentile converts of the first century, even before the temple ended. When we understand that gentiles were not required to be circumcised (arguably more serious a practice than the tithing), why would we expect that they were tithing, either food or money? We wouldn’t, if we are rational. Just my two cents.

    • February 9, 2013 7:28 pm

      Of course, Jesus is also portrayed as condemning the payment of temple taxes (corban) if the money could be better used looking after one’s family. This is in contrast to sermons I’ve heard in church insisting that tithing takes preference to looking after your family. (I’m not exaggerating.)

  2. January 30, 2013 3:32 pm

    There were a number of tithes in the OT. The tithe Malachi refers to was the tithe to look after the poor, widows, orphans and refugee. When ever you look at God’s judgement in the OT its often based around the fact of little social justice. The tithe in Malachi is actually this very same social justice tithe, one that is to ensure that no one goes hungry in the community.

    When you read the structure of Malachi, the prophet begins by giving a series of 7 (I think from memory) rebukes to the priest hood – I ask the question why isn’t that priority of Malachi given such a priority in the pulpit today?

  3. January 30, 2013 5:38 pm

    “The tithe Malachi refers to was the tithe to look after the poor, widows, orphans and refugee. ” Are you sure about that?

  4. January 30, 2013 5:45 pm

    Great post.

  5. January 31, 2013 3:55 am

    I’m not sure I can buy the idea that the Temple was rebuilt as an administrative/funding center for Persian armies invading Egypt, especially with guys like Nehemiah and Malachi around. That may have been the intent but in Palestine it just wouldn’t happen. Even if you can site some historical document to prove it, it still remains iffy. Is the historian recording the naked facts or an interpretation of the facts?

    As I understand it the Jews became increasingly more militant following the days of Malachi and by the time Jesus arrived even hinting that foreign armies would use the Temple as a launching pad, much less mistakenly wander where they weren’t allowed, would have elicited a stone throwing event of note.

    I do agree. We shouldn’t tithe based on the cultural/political policies of the Persians but that begs the question. On what basis should we tithe?

    Also, and more importantly. Was Malachi raising tithes to cover the Persian taxes or to cover the costs of the Temple? Were people failing to tithe because they were being taxed by Persia? That last question occurred to me while reading your post and if it is true then Malachi’s promise has even more meaning.

    Just an observation. It sounds like you read Malachi in same way you would read any historical document of that time and giving no more weight, maybe even less, than the others. Is that true? Not true? Am I reading too much into your words?

    • February 9, 2013 2:41 pm

      Yes it would happen in Yehud–at the time period there is no “Palestine”. Yehud was run as a province of the Persian empire, and this is an important part: just like any other Persian province. The people in Yehud were not in charge; the Persians were in charge. This fact remains regardless of the assertions of the Yehudians in some of their documents and there are memories of some of the oppressive Persian taxes and practices in these documents as well.

      Nehemiah was allowed to govern in Yehud because he was loyal to the Persians first and foremost. Nehemiah was not telling the Persians what to do; other way around.

      Yes, I try to read Malachi like any other document from the period. it’s what academics and historians do.

  6. February 9, 2013 10:03 pm

    OK, there was no “Palestine” (in the sense of infrastructure) but there was the mindset. The Jews even in captivity didn’t lose their identity with the promised land or God or the Scriptures. Nehemiah’s prayer and concern after hearing the poor report of the land is evidence of that and he had never even visited Canaan.

    I would think that Nehemiah, like Daniel, maintained a honorable relationship with the ruling government (bad government is better than none at all) but never to the point of making them “first and foremost.” That, for me, is a stretch.

    I doubt Nehemiah or Malachi was raising tithe money to pay Persian levies. I don’t doubt they paid Persia or that Nehemiah would have encouraged it but I question identifying the tithe as the actual money raised for that purpose. Malachi says the tithe would put “meat in my (God’s) house.” Was he lying? A portion of the tithe may have been used to pay the taxes but the ultimate intent was honoring God.

    I also doubt the historians of that time were being critically accurate in their reporting. Shouldn’t we allow for a bit exaggeration on just how much was collected or how efficiently controlling the ruling authorities were? Historically the Romans were the most efficient in governors of the Jews and the only way they could win the end was to destroy the whole lot.

    I don’t question what the historical documents say (I haven’t read them so I have to take your word for it) but I do question the interpretation.

    • February 11, 2013 10:14 am

      Not only was there no Palestine at the time, there was also no historians writing “historical’ documents for the Hebrew Bible. Whatever these texts are they are not ‘historical’ in the sense that you would probably think of history following the Enlightenment. If you don’t think the Persian empire was “first and foremost” for Nehemiah then I suggest you read some of the resources in the footnotes above. The biggest issue here is that you are very likely approaching these texts from a theological perspective–an interpretation–and I am approaching them from a historical approach–an interpretation as well, but with some actual substantiation.

    • February 11, 2013 1:01 pm

      If a complete perusal of all historical documentation – not possible even if we had all the documents, at least for the better part of humanity and for most of the last two millennia, even if we had all the documents – is necessary before one could understand or interpret Scripture then the idea that the Bible is revelation is nonsense. I’m not saying, just extrapolating what seems to be your point of view. Apologies if I’m overstating.

      I guess my question would be, why would God give only a Bible to humanity if a thorough study of history was necessary to understand it, to get it right?

      But you are right about my approach to Scripture. I do read it theologically first and historically second.

      • Douglas R permalink
        May 22, 2013 6:22 pm

        Ennis,
        The expressed image of the uncreated creator said Unless a man forsakes all his possessions etc one could not be his disciples. All the apostles did that and all their disciples did so. They shared all their possessions as common and no one considered any to be their own.

        Churchianity does good deeds in the name of Jesus but hasn’t followed his example. Seems to me it makes the offering of Cain (“am I my brother’s keeper?”) when they make the grain offering before the sin offering. History is interesting if you’re interested. I have no problem with it as long as I don’t spin/twist it to justify myself.

        You can interpret one part of the Bible using other parts of it. It’s woven together in a supernatural way. If some parts are clouded by translation there are other correcting themes. Did you know the gospel is a reverse walk through the 5 books of Moses?

        Just for starters (but it’s much deeper and the macrocosm very profound) –
        Matthew 4:
        7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
        Deut 6:
        16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

        Matthew 4:
        10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
        Deut 6:
        13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.)

        That’s just after Messiah goes in reverse through the flood. Actually he goes in reverse from the law to before the garden of Eden and when he gets to the beginning of the Bible it goes right to the battle in heaven that was before the foundations of the earth when Messiah was crucified. The battle at the beginning is the battle at the end written about in the book “Revelations”.

        • Douglas R permalink
          May 22, 2013 6:28 pm

          Oops – I left out part –

          Matthew 4:4, 7 & 10 is paralleled in reverse by Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16 & 6:13 
          Matthew 4:
          4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
          Deut 8:
          3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

          Matthew 4:
          7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
          Deut 6:
          16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

          Matthew 4:
          10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
          Deut 6:
          13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.)

          Before that in the flood it rained 40 days and nights.   A dove and a raven were sent up from the Ark.
          Messiah went into the water baptized by John and the holy spirit descended on him like a dove and he went into the wilderness 40 days and 40 nights.
          The dove is the holy spirit.
          The raven is the spirit of Elijah. Elijah was fed by ravens of the brook during the famine (1 Kings 17:6). Elijah was to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6).  The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out (Proverbs 30:17). Messiah said that If you care to believe it John is the Elijah to come (Matthew 11:14). John’s baptism has something to do with the raven.

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