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Thread: In Matthew 17:24-27, was the double-drachma a Roman tax or a Jewish tax?

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    Question In Matthew 17:24-27, was the double-drachma a Roman tax or a Jewish tax?

    Was the "temple tax" a Roman tax or a Jewish tax?:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_tax

    Mat 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute [δίδραχμον] money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute [δίδραχμον]?
    Mat 17:25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom [τέλος] or tribute [κῆνσος]? of their own children, or of strangers?
    Mat 17:26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
    Mat 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money [στατήρ]: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
    G1323
    δίδραχμον
    didrachmon
    did'-rakh-mon
    From G1364 and G1406; a double drachma (didrachm): - tribute.

    G2778
    κῆνσος
    kēnsos
    kane'-sos
    Of Latin origin; properly an enrolment (“census”), that is, (by implication) a tax: - tribute.

    G4715
    στατήρ
    statēr
    stat-air'
    From the base of G2746; a stander (standard of value), that is, (specifically) a stater or certain coin: - piece of money.

    G5056
    τέλος
    telos
    tel'-os
    From a primary word τέλλω tellō (to set out for a definite point or goal); properly the point aimed at as a limit, that is, (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state (termination [literally, figuratively or indefinitely], result [immediate, ultimate or prophetic], purpose); specifically an impost or levy (as paid): - + continual, custom, end (-ing), finally, uttermost. Compare G5411.

    What is the lesson here for believers, if any?

    From Barne's Notes:

    And when they were come to Capernaum - See the notes at Mat_4:13.
    They that received tribute - In the original this is, they who received the didrachma, or double drachma. The drachma was a Grecian coin worth about fifteen cents (7 1/2 d.) of British money. The didrachma, or double drachma, was a silver coin equal to the Attic drachma, and, in the time of Josephus, equal to the Jewish half shekel, that is, about 30 cents (circa 1880’s). This tribute, consisting of the didrachma or double drachma, was not paid to the Roman government, but to the Jewish collectors for the use of the temple service. It was permitted in the law of Moses (see Exo_30:11-16) that in numbering the people half a shekel should be received of each man for the services of religion. This was in addition to the tithes paid by the whole nation, and seems to have been considered as a voluntary offering. It was devoted to the purchase of animals for the daily sacrifice, wood, flour, salt, incense, etc., for the use of the temple.
    Doth not your master pay tribute? - This tribute was voluntary, and they therefore asked him whether he was in the habit of paying taxes for the support of the temple. Peter replied that it was his custom to pay all the usual taxes of the nation.
    Mat_17:25
    Jesus prevented him - That is, Jesus commenced speaking before Peter, or spoke before Peter had told him what he had said. This implies that, though not present with Peter when he gave the answer, yet Jesus was acquainted with what he had said.
    Prevent - To go before, or precede. It did not mean, as it now does with us, to hinder or obstruct. See the same use of the word in Psa_59:10; Psa_79:8; Psa_88:13; 1Th_4:15; Psa_119:148.
    Of whom do the kings of the earth ... - That is, earthly kings.
    Their own children - Their sons; the members of their own family.
    Or of strangers? - The word “strangers” does not mean foreigners, but those that were not their own sons or members of their family. Peter replied that tribute was collected of those out of their own family. Jesus answered, Then are the children, or sons of the kings, free; that is, taxes are not required of them. The meaning of this may be thus expressed: “Kings do not tax their own sons. This tribute-money is taken up for the temple service; that is, the service of my Father. I, therefore, being the Son of God, for whom this is taken up, cannot be lawfully required to pay this tribute.” This argument is based on the supposition that this was a religious, and not a civil tax. If it had been the latter, the illustration would not have been pertinent.
    Mat_17:27
    Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them - That is, lest they should think that we despise the temple and its service, and thus provoke needless opposition; though we are not under obligation to pay it, yet it is best to pay it to them.
    Go to the sea - This was at Capernaum, on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.
    Thou shalt find a piece of money - In the original, thou shalt find a stater, a Roman silver coin of the value of four drachmas, or one shekel, and of course sufficient to pay the tribute for two - himself and Peter.

    Last edited by Ruminator; 04-21-2017 at 10:58 AM.
    It's a wonderful life

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruminator View Post
    Was the "temple tax" a Roman tax or a Jewish tax?:

    ....

    What is the lesson here for believers, if any?

    From Barne's Notes:
    The Lord instituted various prices of redemption for Israelites. The first born of both man and beast were to be redeemed. In Exodus 30 the half shekel was to be paid by every man 20 years and above "when Israel was numbered". It would seem that this was the reason that Israel were plagued in 2nd Samuel 24. But in the case of Jesus in Matthew 17;
    • Israel was largely in dispersion, so a count according to Exodus 30 was moot
    • Judah did not have anybody in authority to call for the numbering
    • Judah had not been numbered, thus the tax was moot. The half-shekel was uncalled for
    • Our Lord Jesus, by virtue of His origin being in the Holy Spirit (though born to Mary*), did not need to be redeemed
    • Our Lord Jesus was the only Man born into the Temple by virtue of His being "the only begotten Son" of the Master of the House

    Thus, the tax was illegal, and in the case of Jesus it was not called for.

    *As seed of "the woman" (Gen.3:15) Jesus would be fully human by virtue of God's Law of Genesis 1:11-12. That is, everything that has seed in it will produce exactly the same kind. But Jesus was not "seed" of Joseph. Since the sinful Adamic nature is transmitted by the man, not the woman (Rom.5:12, 19; 1st Cor.15:21-22), Jesus has no need of redemption. This is crucial because if He was liable for redemption, His death on the cross could have only served Him and not the rest of men.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corban View Post
    The Lord instituted various prices of redemption for Israelites. The first born of both man and beast were to be redeemed. In Exodus 30 the half shekel was to be paid by every man 20 years and above "when Israel was numbered". It would seem that this was the reason that Israel were plagued in 2nd Samuel 24. But in the case of Jesus in Matthew 17;
    • Israel was largely in dispersion, so a count according to Exodus 30 was moot
    • Judah did not have anybody in authority to call for the numbering
    • Judah had not been numbered, thus the tax was moot. The half-shekel was uncalled for
    • Our Lord Jesus, by virtue of His origin being in the Holy Spirit (though born to Mary*), did not need to be redeemed
    • Our Lord Jesus was the only Man born into the Temple by virtue of His being "the only begotten Son" of the Master of the House

    Thus, the tax was illegal, and in the case of Jesus it was not called for.

    *As seed of "the woman" (Gen.3:15) Jesus would be fully human by virtue of God's Law of Genesis 1:11-12. That is, everything that has seed in it will produce exactly the same kind. But Jesus was not "seed" of Joseph. Since the sinful Adamic nature is transmitted by the man, not the woman (Rom.5:12, 19; 1st Cor.15:21-22), Jesus has no need of redemption. This is crucial because if He was liable for redemption, His death on the cross could have only served Him and not the rest of men.
    Thanks.

    The tax was apparently voluntary and modest and went toward the upkeep of the temple so it doesn't seem to bear much relation to Romans 13.

    It doesn't seem to be related to the redemption tax either, does it?

    It seems to be most akin to a Church's building program perhaps?

    I'm wondering what the lesson is on how he dealt with this seemingly trivial matter.

    He did call attention to his sonship.

    I feel like maybe we're missing something more profound, but so far I'm not sure what it might be. It seems like kind of a petty incident.
    It's a wonderful life

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruminator View Post
    Thanks.

    The tax was apparently voluntary and modest and went toward the upkeep of the temple so it doesn't seem to bear much relation to Romans 13.

    It doesn't seem to be related to the redemption tax either, does it?

    It seems to be most akin to a Church's building program perhaps?

    I'm wondering what the lesson is on how he dealt with this seemingly trivial matter.

    He did call attention to his sonship.

    I feel like maybe we're missing something more profound, but so far I'm not sure what it might be. It seems like kind of a petty incident.
    I too think that there is much here and that I haven't seen it all. This is what I have seen.

    The primary revelation is that neither the disciples nor the Jews had really seen Who Jesus was. The Temple was God's House. Israel were God's SUBJECTS. The SUBJECTS were called to pay tribute to the King, and one of the tributes besides redemption fees and the tithe, was the Temple Tribute. But our Lord Jesus, though born to Mary, A SUBJECT, is also born of the Father. That makes Him a SON of the House, not a SUBJECT of the House. And if so, then He is both divine and human, He is an Heir to the Kingship of Israel, He must be without sin, and He must be Emmanuel - God with us. If all this was discovered, then all Israel would have no option but to make Jesus their King and bow before Him in all matters. So it was very important for all, Jesus, His disciples and the Jews, whether He was liable for Temple Tax. On it hung His POSITION.

    A secondary lesson attached to this is the humility and graciousness of our Lord Jesus. He could have claimed His right not to pay the tax. He could have said what I said - that the tax was illegal until Israel were numbered, thus revealing the Jewish Leadership as frauds. But He chose not to offend both disciples, who had put their foot in it, and Jewish Leadership who were acting unlawfully. He was a Master at keeping the peace and of reconciliation - the two traits we need for the gospel age.

    Leaving Israel and turning to the Church, Jesus is paid for by 30 pieces of silver (Matt.26:15) - the redemption price for a Female who is dedicated (Lev.27:4). The price for the Male was 50 pieces, but our Lord was not redeeming Himself when He went to the cross. He was redeeming His Bride - the Church. This too is crucial in the grand scheme of things. This redemption price declares that He, not needing 50 shekels, is sinless and needed no redeeming. It declares that the rest of men need redemption. It declares that price is already paid. It declares that those NOT of the Church are not redeemed for the price is only for the dedicated female, not all. It declares that He belongs to God. It declares that the Bride now belongs to God. It sets forth silver as a Type of Christ's redemption. Thus, it is a building material in both the Tabernacle (Exodus 36 and 38), and the Church (1st Cor.3:12). Its replacement by Pearl in New Jerusalem means that (1) redemption by Christ is for a specific time, and (2) is fully complete by the time of New Jerusalem (for our Lord Jesus did not only die for man but for the creature also - Jn.3:16; Rom.8:19-23).

    I dare say that there is more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corban View Post
    ...Leaving Israel and turning to the Church, Jesus is paid for by 30 pieces of silver (Matt.26:15) - the redemption price for a Female who is dedicated (Lev.27:4). The price for the Male was 50 pieces, but our Lord was not redeeming Himself when He went to the cross. He was redeeming His Bride - the Church. This too is crucial in the grand scheme of things. This redemption price declares that He, not needing 50 shekels, is sinless and needed no redeeming. It declares that the rest of men need redemption. It declares that price is already paid. It declares that those NOT of the Church are not redeemed for the price is only for the dedicated female, not all. It declares that He belongs to God. It declares that the Bride now belongs to God. It sets forth silver as a Type of Christ's redemption. Thus, it is a building material in both the Tabernacle (Exodus 36 and 38), and the Church (1st Cor.3:12). Its replacement by Pearl in New Jerusalem means that (1) redemption by Christ is for a specific time, and (2) is fully complete by the time of New Jerusalem (for our Lord Jesus did not only die for man but for the creature also - Jn.3:16; Rom.8:19-23).

    I dare say that there is more.
    I think there are some good observations in here. I'll need to spend more time with this passage. Thanks!
    It's a wonderful life

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