Ten is an important number corresponding to the tenth Hebrew letter, yud (י), which was originally pronounced yad, meaning arm and hand.
So, we can understand that in Hebrew, the number 10 is a reference to the hand of God or arm of the Lord, which represents salvation (Psalm 60:5 and Isaiah 53:1), authority (Isaiah 40:10–11), power and strength (Isaiah 28:2), judgment (Exodus 15:11–12), and mercy (Psalm 17:7).
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)
Ten is so recognized in Judaism that a minimum of 10 Jewish men, called a minyan, must be gathered to hold religious services in the synagogue.
Of course, we can see examples in Scripture where the number 10 is associated with power and covenant.
God sent Ten Plagues on Egypt to show His power to the Egyptians and rescue the Israelites. He wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone for the Israelites so that they would know how to live holy lives protecting their covenant relationship with Him.
Ten is also a number of testing. Moses sent out 12 spies to spy out the Land of Israel and 10 came back with an evil report. In the wilderness, the children of Israel tested God 10 times (Numbers 14:22). Jacob’s wages were changed 10 times by Laban. Daniel and his friends were tested for 10 days in Babylon.
Ten also can represent our covenant obligations. A tenth of our income is also the required portion to give to the Lord. This is also a test. Every time we earn money, the test is to see whether or not we will bring the first 10% to God. It is really a test of our heart—where is our first loyalty?
Moreover, this is the only place in the Bible where God invites us to TEST HIM!
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.“ (Malachi 3:10)
Tithing—bringing a full tenth of our income into the house of the Lord—is a test. Our checkbook register shows our hearts—what we do with our money is a test.
Also for the sake of ten, a tenth of our income, God promises to rebuke the devourer. He will not allow destruction of our material goods for the sake of a tenth.
“I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:11)
When we find that our profits are being devoured and there is not enough to meet the need, it is time to check if we are faithfully tithing.
When we tithe, we are in reality just bringing to God what belongs to Him. That is why Scripture uses the word “bring” and not “give.” If something does not belong to us, it is not ours to keep or give away.
The tithe does not belong to us; it belongs to the Lord.
For instance, to find in Scripture where people failed to bring the tithe and suffered the consequences, we need look no further than Jericho, the first city Israel conquered after crossing the Jordan to the Promised Land.
Jericho was the “tithe” of all the other cities because it was the first one conquered. God told Israel not to take any of the spoils of Jericho; but one man disobeyed. Achan roamed the rubble at night, stole money and other spoils, and hid them under his tent.
Therefore, Israel had no victory until God exposed the sin, and Achan along with his family and all his belongings were destroyed.
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ’How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing Me.” (Malachi 3:8–9)
Children of Promise
In entertaining angels, Abraham learns that Sarah, who is 90, would give birth to a son, despite her old age.
In fact, Abraham is 100 years old when Isaac is born.
They call him Yitzchak (Isaac) from the Hebrew word for laugh—tzchok, because Sarah laughed when she overhead what the angel prophesied.
But when Yitzchak is born, that laughter turns from mockery to joy and delight. “Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’” (Genesis 21:6)
This contrasts the birth of Ishmael, which brought strife and sorrow, although Abraham obviously loved him deeply, and God had promised to make him into a nation.
Things birthed of the flesh most often bring strife and frustration, but when the Spirit of God gives birth to something in our lives, it brings joy and laughter, not only to us but to others as well.
God clearly tells Abraham and Sarah that although he will bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation, the covenant will pass through the lineage of Isaac.
Isaac will inherit the Promised Land.
To protect Isaac and the covenant, Ishmael, son of the bondwoman, Hagar, is sent away with his mother into the wilderness where he will learn to foster a relationship with God by calling out to Him on his own.
“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’” (Genesis 21:17–18)
Still, Abraham’s faith is tested in a much deeper way. In Chapter 22, of this Parasha, God calls him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, even Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.” (Genesis 22:3)
From the beginning, Abraham trusted God, despite the enormity of God’s command. Perhaps, one of the ways he had been schooled in that trust was the sending away of his son Ishmael.
That trust is evident when Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb (seh)?” Abraham told him that God will provide the Lamb. Yet, for the sake of Isaac, God provided not a lamb, but a ram (ayil). (Genesis 22:13)
Because of Abraham’s faith and trust in God, He provided a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. Likewise, God Himself provided a substitute sacrifice for the sins of all who share in the faith of Abraham.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His son, His only son (whom He loved) so that whoever would believe on Him would not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)