Easton's Bible Dictionary
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 RSV) 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 ; Exodus
24:6 , 24:9
). It was not a civil but a religious tax.
22:17 , Mark
12:14 , Luke
20:22 , the word may be interpreted as denoting the capitation tax which the
Romans imposed on the Jewish people. It may, however, be legitimately regarded
as denoting any tax whatever imposed by a foreign power on the people of Israel.
The "tribute money" shown to our Lord ( Matthew
22:19 ) was the denarius, bearing Caesar's superscription. It was the tax
paid by every Jew to the Romans. (See PENNY)
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
The chief biblical facts connected with the payment of
tribute have been already given under TAXES. The tribute (money) mentioned in
17:24 , 17:25
) was the half shekel (worth from 25 to 27 cents) applied to defray the general
expenses of the temple. After the destruction of the temple this was sequestrated
by Vespasian and his successors and transferred to the temple of the Capitoline
Jupiter. This "tribute" of ( Matthew
17:24 ) must not be confounded with the tribute paid to the Roman emperor.
22:17 ) The temple rate, though resting on an ancient precedent-- ( Exodus
30:13 ) --was as above a fixed annual tribute of comparatively late origin.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
trib'-ut (mac, "tribute," really meaning "forced laborers,"
"labor gang" (1 Kings 4:6 ; 9:15 , 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 middah (Ezra 6:8; Nehemiah 5:4)):
Words used only of the duty levied for Yahweh on acquired spoils are mekhec, "assessment"
(Numbers 31:28 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41), belo, "excise" (Ezra 4:13 , 10 ; Nehemiah
7:24), massa', "burden" (2 Chronicles 17:11), and 'onesh, "fine" or "indemnity"
(2 Kings 23:33; compare Proverbs 19:19). The translation "tribute" for miccath,
in Deuteronomy 16:10 is wrong (compare the Revised Version margin). kensos (Matthew
22:17 ; Mark 12:14) = "census," while phoros (Luke 20:22 ; 23:2 ; Romans 13:6
, 7), signifies an annual tax on persons, houses, lands, both being direct taxes.
The phoroi were paid by agriculturists, payment being made partly in kind, partly
in money, and are contrasted with the tele of the publicans, while kensos is strictly
a poll tax. The amount of tribute required as a poll tax by the Romans was the
didrachmon (Matthew 17:24), the King James Version "tribute," the Revised Version
(British and American) "half-shekel." The stater (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). On the basis of the records thus voluntarily
made, the tax collectors would enforce the payment of the tribute.
See also TAX, TAXING.
Frank E. Hirsch
bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, define, history, tax, tribute