Bible Articles on the Topic of Taxes

The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.

Matthew and Money

There are two extreme schools of thought as to the means by which the books of the Bible were composed. The one, which we might call the “dictation” school, implies that the authors were really no more than “secretaries” who wrote down, word for word, what God spoke to them. The other extreme declares that the authors compiled and arranged and edited various materials, part written and part oral, from many older sources. Since these sources were not necessarily “inspired” in any regular sense of the word, and since the compiler was at liberty to “pick and choose”, therefore the final result could scarcely be considered the infallible “word of God”. An “advancement” (?) upon this second school of thought is that the gospels, for example, did not take their final forms until some time in the second century, after later disciples “tinkered around” with their predecessors’ stories.

Custom-House Officers, Taxation, and Publicans

Whether passing through town or country, by quiet side-roads or along the great highway, there was one sight and scene which must constantly have forced itself upon the attention of the traveller, and, if he were of Jewish descent, would ever awaken afresh his indignation and hatred. Whithersoever he went, he encountered in city or country the well-known foreign tax-gatherer, and was met by his insolence, by his vexatious intrusion, and by his exactions. The fact that he was the symbol of Israel’s subjection to foreign domination, galling though it was, had probably not so much to do with the bitter hatred of the Rabbinists towards the class of tax-farmers (Moches) and tax-collectors (Gabbai), both of whom were placed wholly outside the pale of Jewish society, as that they were so utterly shameless and regardless in their unconscientious dealings. For, ever since their return from Babylon, the Jews must, with a brief interval, have been accustomed to foreign taxation. At the time of Ezra (Ezra 4:13,20, 7:24) they paid to the Persian monarch “toll, tribute, and custom”—middah, belo, and halach—rather “ground-tax” (income and property-tax?), “custom” (levied on all that was for consumption, or imported), and “toll,” or road-money. Under the reign of the Ptolemies the taxes seem to have been farmed to the highest bidder, the price varying from eight to sixteen talents—is, from about 3,140 pounds to about 6,280 pounds—very small sum indeed, which enabled the Palestine tax-farmers to acquire immense wealth, and that although they had continually to purchase arms and court favour (Josephus, Ant. xii, 154-185). During the Syrian rule the taxes seem to have consisted of tribute, duty on salt, a third of the produce of all that was sown, and one-half of that from fruit-trees, besides poll-tax, custom duty, and an uncertain kind of tax, called “crown-money” (the aurum coronarium of the Romans), originally an annual gift of a crown of gold, but afterwards compounded for in money (Josephus, Ant. xii, 129-137). Under the Herodians the royal revenue seems to have been derived from crown lands, from a property and income-tax, from import and export duties, and from a duty on all that was publicly sold and bought, to which must be added a tax upon houses in Jerusalem.

All The World Should Be Taxed?

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)

Matthew and the Good Publican

The enemies of Jesus found many grounds for criticising him, but one of the most-used was based upon the company which he kept. Three times¹ we are told he defended himself against the charge of consorting with social outcasts, and in view of the comparatively few incidents in the life of Jesus that we know, we can assume that the charge was made on other occasions.

The Coin In The Fish’s Mouth

After the Feast of Tabernacles there was a return to Galilee, but not with the intention of resuming the work of preaching. Instead, “he would not that any man should know it.” This because now Jesus was concentrating on the further education of the disciples. In their minds his Messiahship was no longer in question. The Transfiguration had laid to rest all doubts regarding that.

Tribute to Caesar?

Wednesday had ended with the rulers being filled with frustration and hatred because of the open attacks made upon them by Jesus. “The same hour” (Luke) that he spoke his very plain parable of the wicked husbandmen “they sought to lay hands on him” (Luke)—would have arrested him there and then in the temple court—but “they feared the people”.

Did Jesus Evade the Question?

In a recent brief note on Luke 20:22 we ventured the opinion that Jesus evaded giving a direct answer to the question, “Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar, or not?"

Render Unto Caesar and Unto God

Conspiring men seek to entangle Jesus in His words. Rather than fall into their trap, Jesus teaches them that they are to respect civil authority and give unto “Caesar” those things that belong to his government, while at the same time acknowledging that there are some things that belong solely to God. Based upon the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, verses 13-17.

Taxes

First mentioned in the command (Exodus 30:11-16) that every Jew from twenty years and upward should pay an annual tax of “half a shekel for an offering to the Lord.” This enactment was faithfully observed for many generations (2 Chronicles 24:6; Matthew 17:24).

Taxation

The Bible gives scant information concerning the secular or political taxes of the Jews. Practically all that can be gathered is the following: Just as Abraham (Genesis 14:20) voluntarily gave a tenth “of all” (i.e., according to the context, of the whole spoil taken in war), so the Israelitish and foreign subjects of the kings of Israel voluntarily brought presents to their rulers.These gifts were withheld by churlish people only (comp. 1 Samuel 10:27), but were given by all others (ib. 16:20; 2 Samuel 8:2, 11 et seq.; 12:30; 1 Kings 10:10, 25; 2 Kings 3:4; 2 Chronicles 9:24; Isaiah 16:1; Psalms 72:10). A chief source of the king’s income consisted in his landed possessions (1 Chronicles 27:25 et seq.; 2 Chronicles 26:10); but a money-or poll-tax is not mentioned among the royal prerogatives, even in the detailed description of them with which Samuel tried to deter the people from choosing a king (1 Samuel 8:11-17). The census of the people which was ordered by David (2 Samuel 24:1 et seq.) was intended perhaps to furnish a basis for a methodical distribution of the military burdens and taxes; but Solomon was the first monarch to systematize the furnishing of foodstuffs (1 Kings 4:7-28), and to demand toll from the merchants (ib. 10:15), and he, moreover, made the lot of the people an inordinately heavy one (12:4), probably imposing an additional money-tax. The later kings again received only voluntary gifts from their subjects, as is recorded of the time of Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 17:5, 32:23), a money-tax being levied in time of war only, when the demands of victorious enemies had to be satisfied (2 Kings 15:20, 23:35).

Tax, Hebrew

Hebrew tax, (some form of עָרִך, to arrange). Taxes of some kind must have been coeval with the origin of civilized society. The idea of the one is involved in that of the other, since society, as every organization, implies expense, which must be raised by the abstraction of property from the individuals of which it consists, either by occasional or periodical, by self-imposed or compulsory, exactions. In the history of Israel, as of other nations, the student who desires to form a just estimate of the social condition of the people must take into account the taxes which they had to pay. According as these are light or heavy may vary the happiness and prosperity of a nation. To them, though lying in the background of history, may often be traced, as to the true motive power, many political revolutions. We find a provision of income made at the very commencement of the Mosaic polity. Taxes, like all other things in that polity, had a religious origin and import. While the people were in the migratory stage during their marches through the desert, only such incidental taxes were levied, or rather such voluntary contributions were received, as the exigencies of the time demanded. It was not till their establishment in Canaan that taxation assumed a regular and organized form. We propose, therefore, in the following article (which treats only of public and stated imposts) to consider the subject chronologically from that point. SEE ASSESSMENT.

The Coin

Taxes

Der Stater im Fischmaul (1960 lithograph)

Taxes

Jesus & The Tribute Money

Taxes

Passional Christi (1521 woodcut)

Taxes

Render Unto Caesar

Taxes

Show Me a Coin

Taxes

Study for ’The Tribute Money’

Taxes

The Tribute Money (17th c. etching)

Taxes

The Tribute Money (Le Denier de Cesar)

Taxes

The Tribute Money

Taxes

The Tribute Money

Taxes

The Tribute Money

Taxes

Tribute Money

Taxes

Tribute Money

Taxes

The Tribute Money

Taxes

The Tribute Money

Taxes

Render unto Caesar

“Render unto Caesar” is the beginning of a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads in full, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).[Matthew 22:21]