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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Tribute (2)

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TRIBUTE is used in the Gospels in two distinct senses. 1. The tribute-money (δίδραχμον, Matthew 17:24 ff.) was the Temple-tax levied on all male Israelites of twenty and upwards, to meet the cost of the daily burnt-offering and the other sacrifices offered in the name of the people, and for other objects of a public character. In the days of Nehemiah the amount was a third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32-33), but in NT times it was half a shekel (Josephus Ant. xviii. xix. 1), which was also the sum fixed in Exodus 30:11-13. It was collected in the month Adar, and was paid in money of the early Hebrew standard. The ‘piece of money’ (στατήρ) of Matthew 17:27 was equal to a shekel (about 2 Samuel 9 d.), and so was sufficient to meet the Temple-tax for two persons. 2. The tribute to Caesar (φόρος, φόροι, κῆνσος) denoted the taxes payable by the Jews, as Roman subjects, into the Imperial treasury (fiscus). These included taxes on land and property (tributum soli), and the polltax (tributum capitis), from which only children and old men were exempt. The Roman authorities made use of the Jewish courts in collecting their revenue from these sources (Josephus BJ ii. xvii. 1). It was the lawfulness of paying such taxes about which Jesus was questioned by His enemies (Matthew 22:17 || Mark 12:14 || Luke 20:22). His reply gave no ground for the charge of forbidding their payment, which was afterwards brought against Him (Luke 23:2).

Literature.—Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] i. i. 65, ii. 107 f., ii. i. 250 ff., ii. 162, and the authorities there cited.

James Patrick.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tribute (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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