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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Tribute

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(See TAX.) The use of the word in the Old Testament is in reference to the almost universal custom whereby the conquering nation (whether Egyptian, Assyrian, or Roman) levied large and in many cases recurring sums of money from the nations subjugated by them; and the monuments erected by the conquerors naturally present this subject very frequently. In Matthew 17:24-27, "the didrachma receivers said to Peter, Doth not your Master pay the didrachma? He saith, Yes?" Their question implies it was the religious impost; no civil tax would have been asked in such a tone, as if its payment dare be questioned. The half-shekel or half-stater or didrachma (fifteen pence) was the universally recognized due required from every Israelite grown male in support of the sanctuary services, in the benefits of which he had a share: according to Exodus 30:11-15. (See MONEY; JESUS CHRIST; PETER.)

Collected both before and after the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 12:4; 2 Chronicles 24:9) from all Jews wherever sojourning (Josephus 18:9, section 1; Philo Monarch. 2:2, section 224). Hence Peter at once recognized the obligation. But Christ, while to avoid offense (wherein Paul imitated his Master in a different case, 1 Corinthians 9:4-19) He miraculously supplied the stater in the fish, for Himself and Peter, yet claimed freedom from the payment to the temple, seeing He was its Lord for whose service the tribute was collected. As Son of the heavenly King He was free from the legal exactions which bound all others, since the law finds its antitypical realization in Him the Son of God and "the end of the law" (Romans 10:4).

The temple offerings, for which the half shekels were collected, through Him become needless to His people also; hence they, by virtue of union with Him in justification and sanctification, are secondarily included in His pregnant saying, "then are the children (not merely the SON) free" (John 8:35-36; Galatians 4:3-7; Galatians 5:1). As children with Him, they are sons of the King and share the kingdom (Romans 8:15-17). The legal term "the didrachma" Matthew uses as one so familiar to his readers as to need no explanation; he must therefore have written about the time, alleged, namely, some time before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, after which an explanatory comment would have been needed such as Josephus gives (Ant. 18:10, section 1). The undesigned omission in Matthew confirms the genuineness. and truth of his Gospel.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Tribute'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/t/tribute.html. 1949.

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