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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?:

    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.
    From G1364 and G1406; a double drachma (didrachm): - tribute.

    Of Latin origin; properly an enrolment (“census”), that is, (by implication) a tax: - tribute.

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

    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.
    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.
    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.
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