Bible Articles on the Topic of Tribute

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.

New Testament Synonyms: Tax

φόρος, τέλος, κῆνσος, δίδραχμον.

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?"


A tax imposed by a king on his subjects (2 Samuel 20:24; 1 Kings 4:6; Romans 13:6). In Matthew 17:24-27 the word denotes the temple rate (the “didrachma,” the “half-shekel,” as rendered by the R.V.) which was required to be paid for the support of the temple by every Jew above twenty years of age (Exodus 30:12; 2 Kings 12:4; 2 Chronicles 24:6, 9). It was not a civil but a religious tax.

Tax; Taxing

Taxation, in the sense of regular, graduated imposts levied by authority upon wealth, whether in the form of flocks and herds, tilled lands or accumulated treasure, is a comparatively late product of social evolution. The beginnings of this trouble-breeding institution are, of course, very ancient. If in the beginning all wealth was common wealth, all property vested in the family or tribe, making any kind of levies unnecessary, with the rise of individualism, the prorata setting aside, for common uses, of certain possessions held as private property by individuals, which is the essence of taxation, is inevitable. With the advent of more advanced civilization, by which is meant fixed residence, systematic use and cultivation of defined and limited territory, established political organization centering in rulers of one kind or another, regular taxation must necessarily have begun. Throughout history the burden of taxation has kept pace with the elaboration of the machinery of government; kings, courts, ceremonials, legislative and judicial administration, wars, diplomacy—all these institutions spell expense and, consequently, taxation. In a very real sense, the history of taxation is the history of civilization.


tōl: (1) Aramaic מדּה, middāh, “toll” or “tribute” paid by a vassal nation to its conqueror (Ezra 4:20; 6:8; Nehemiah 5:4); written also מנדּה, mindāh (Ezra 4:13; 7:24). More accurately for הלך, hălākh, “toll,” or “way tax” (Ezra 4:13, 4:10; 7:24). In New Testament times the Romans had placed throughout Palestine many toll stations (τελώνιον, telṓnion). Levi the publican was stationed at such a tax office (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27); compare τελώνης, telṓnēs, a “tax collector” or “publican.” The tax which the Jews paid toward the support of the temple, a didrachma, is called τέλος, télos, “toll” (Matthew 17:25), the same as the word rendered “tribute” (Romans 13:7).


trib ́ūt (מס, maṣ, “tribute,” really meaning “forced laborers,” “labor gang” (1 Kings 4:6; 9:15, 9:21); also “forced service,” “serfdom”; possibly “forced payment” is meant in Esther 10:1; the idea contained in the modern word is better given by מדּה, middāh (Ezra 6:8; Nehemiah 5:4)): Words used only of the duty levied for Yahweh on acquired spoils are מכס, mekheṣ, “assessment” (Numbers 31:28, 31:37-41), בּלו, belō, “excise” (Ezra 4:13, 4:10; Nehemiah 7:24), משּׂא, massā', “burden” (2 Chronicles 17:11), and ענשׁ, ‛ōnesh, “fine” or “indemnity” (2 Kings 23:33; compare Proverbs 19:19). The translation “tribute” for מסּת, miṣṣath, in Deuteronomy 16:10 is wrong (compare the Revised Version margin). κῆνσος, kḗnsos (Matthew 22:17; Mark 12:14) = “census,” while φόρος, phóros (Luke 20:22; 23:2; Romans 13:6-7), signifies an annual tax on persons, houses, lands, both being direct taxes. The phóroi were paid by agriculturists, payment being made partly in kind, partly in money, and are contrasted with the télē of the publicans, while kēnsos is strictly a poll tax. The amount of tribute required as a poll tax by the Romans was the δίδραχμον, dídrachmon (Matthew 17:24), the King James Version “tribute,” the Revised Version “half-shekel.” The στατήρ, statḗr (Matthew 17:27), was a tetradrachm, “one shekel,” or pay for two. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews were required to pay this poll tax toward the support of the worship of Jupiter Capitolinus. Different kinds of personal taxes were raised by the Romans: (1) an income tax, (2) the poll tax. The latter must be paid by women and slaves as well as by free men, only children and aged people being exempted. The payment exacted began with the 14th year in the case of men and the 12th in the case of women, the obligation remaining in force up to the 65th year in the case of both. For purposes of assessment, each person was permitted to put his own statement on record. After public notice had been given by the government, every citizen was expected to respond without personal visitation by an official (see Luke 2:1 ff). On the basis of the records thus voluntarily made, the tax collectors would enforce the payment of the tribute. See also TAX, TAXING.

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.


Taxing is the rendering, in the A. V., of a Greek word, which occurs in two passages, ἡ ἀπογραφή (Vulg. descriptio, Luke 2:2; professio, Acts 5:37). The cognate verb ἀπογράφεσθαι in like manner is rendered by “to be taxed” in the A.V., while the Vulg. employs “ut describeretur universus orbis” in Luke 2:1, and “ut profiterentur singuli” in ver. 3. In Hebrews 13:23 (πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς), where the idea is that of the registration of the first-born as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, the A. V. has simply “written,” the Vulg. “qui conscripti sunt.” Both the Latin words used in the two passages first cited; above are found in classical writers with the meaning of a registration or formal return of population or property (Cicero, Ver. 2, 3, 47; De Qf 1, 7; Sueton. Tiber. 30). The English word conveys to us more distinctly the notion of a tax or tribute actually levied, but it appears to have been used in the 16th century for the simple assessment of a subsidy upon the property of a given county (Bacon, Henry VII, p. 67), or the registration of the people for the purpose of a poll-tax (Camden, Hist. of Elizabeth). This may account for the choice of the word by Tyndale in lieu of “description” and profession,” which Wycliffe, following the Vulg., had given. Since then “taxing” has kept its ground in most English versions with the exception of “tribute” in the Geneva, and “enrolment” in the Rhemish of Acts 5:37. The word ἀπογραφή by itself leaves the question undetermined whether the returns made were of population or property. Josephus, using the words ἡ ἀποτίμησις τῶν οὐσιῶν (Ant. 18:1, 1) as an equivalent, shows that “the taxing” of which Gamaliel speaks included both. That connected with the Nativity, the first step towards the complete statistical returns, was probably limited to the former (Greswell, Harmony, 1, 542). In either case “census” would have seemed the most natural Latin equivalent; but in the Greek of the New Test., and therefore probably in the familiar Latin of the period, as afterwards in the Vulg., that word slides off into the sense of the tribute actually paid (Matthew 22:17; 17:24). SEE CENSUS.


Tribute, (prop. מִס, φόρος), an impost which one prince or state agrees, or is compelled, to pay to another, as the purchase of peace or in token of dependence.. In the Scriptures we find three forms of this requirement. SEE TAX.

Stripping the Temple for Tribute to King of Assyria