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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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(See PUBLICAN.) Each Israelite paid a half shekel as "atonement money" for the service of the tabernacle, the morning and evening sacrifice, the incense, wood, shewbread, red heifers, scape-goat, etc. (Exodus 30:13). This became an annual payment on the return from Babylon; at first only a third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32); afterward a half, the didrachma (Matthew 17:24); paid by every Jew wherever in the world he might be (Josephus Ant. 18:9, section 1). Under kings the taxes were much increased: a tithe of the soil's produce and of cattle (1 Samuel 8:15; 1 Samuel 8:17); forced military service, a month every year (verse 12; 1 Kings 9:22; 1 Chronicles 27:1); gifts, nominally voluntary but really imperative (like the Old English "benevolences"), and expected, as at the beginning of a reign or in war (1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 16:20; 1 Samuel 17:18). Import duties on foreign articles (1 Kings 10:15); monopolies of commerce; gold, linen from Egypt (1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:28); the first cuttings of hay, "the king's mowings" (Amos 7:1).

Exemption from taxes was deemed an ample reward for military service (1 Samuel 17:25). The taxes, not the idolatry, of Solomon caused the revolt under his son; and Adoram, as over the tribute, was the chief object, of hatred (1 Kings 12:4; 1 Kings 12:18). The Assyrian and Egyptian conquerors imposed heavy taxes on the Israelite and Jewish kings, Mendhem, Hoshea, Hezekiah, Josiah (2 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 17:4; 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 23:35). Under the Persian Darius Hystaspes each satrap had to pay a fixed sum which he levied from the people with extortion. Judaea had to provide for the governor's household daily maintenance, besides 40 shekels a day (Nehemiah 5:14-15). The three sources of revenue were:

(1) the mindah or "measured payment" or "toll," i.e. direct taxes;

(2) the excise on articles of consumption, "tribute," belo ;

(3) "custom" (halak ), payable at bridges, fords, and stations on the road (Ezra 4:13; Ezra 4:20). The priests, Levites, singers, porters, and Nethinim were exempted by Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:24). The distress of the people by taxes and forced service is pathetically described (Nehemiah 9:37). They mortgaged their lands to buy grain, and borrowed money at one per cent per month, i.e. 12 percent per year, to pay the king's tribute; failing payment they became slaves to their creditors. When Judaea fell under Rome, the taxes were farmed, namely, the "dues" (telos ) at harbours and city gates, and the poll tax (census or epikephalaion); the lawfulness of the latter alone the rabbis questioned (Matthew 22:17). Judas of Galilee raised a revolt against it (Josephus Ant. 18:1, section 6; B.J. 2:8, sec. 1). Besides there was a property tax, the registry and valuation for which took place at Christ's birth and was completed by Quirinus Cyrenius after Archelaus' deposition (Luke 2:1-2). (See CYRENIUS.) The Christian's rule is Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Taxes'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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