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ON THE TRIBUTE AND TAXES MENTIONED IN THE
1. Annual Payments made by the Jews for the support of their sacred worship.-I. Tributes paid to their own sovereigns.-III. Tributes and Customs paid by them to foreign powers.-Notice of the Money-changers.-IV. Account of the Publicans or Tax-Gatherers. I. As no government can be supported without great charge, it is but just that every one who enjoys his share of protection from it, should contribute towards its maintenance and support. On the first departure of the Israelites from Egypt, before any regulation was made, the people contributed, on any extraordinary occasion, according to their ability, as in the case of the voluntary donations for the tabernacle. (Exod. xxv. 2. xxxv. 5.) After the tabernacle was erected, a payment of half a shekel was made by every male of twenty years of age and upwards (Exod. xxx. 13, 14.), when the census, or sum of the children of Israel was taken: and on the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, an annual payment of the third part of a shekel was made, for the maintenance of the templeworship and service. (Neh. x. 32.) Subsequently, the enactment of Moses was deemed to be of perpetual obligation, and in the time of our Saviour two drachmæ, or half a shekel, were paid by every Jew, whether native or residing in foreign countries: besides which every one, who was so disposed, made voluntary offerings according to his ability. (Mark xii. 41-44.) Hence vast quantities of gold were annually brought to Jerusalem into the temple, where there was an apartment called the Treasury (Taloquaxiov), specially appropriated to their reception. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Vespasian by an edict commanded that the half shekel should in future be brought by the Jews, wherever they were into the capitol.3 In addition to the preceding payments for the support of their sacred worship, we may notice the first fruits and tenths, of which an account is found in Part III. Chap. IV. infra.
II. Several of the Canaanitish tribes were tributary to the Israelites even from the time of Joshua (Josh. xvi. 10. xvii. 13. Judg. i. 28. 33.), whence they could not but derive considerable wealth. The Moabites and Syrians were tributary to David (2 Sam. viii. 2. 6.) : and Solomon at the beginning of his reign compelled the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were left in the country, to pay him tribute, and to perform the drudgery of the pub
1 Josephus, de Bell. Jud. lib. vii. c. 6. § 6. Philonis Judæi Opera, tom. ii. p. 224. 2 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xiv. e. 7. §2. Cicero, Orat. pro Flacco, c. 28. 3 Josephus, de Bell. Jud. lib. vii. c. 6. § 6.
lic works which he had undertaken, and from which the children of Israel were exempted. (1 Kings ix. 21, 22. 33. 2 Chron. viii. 9.) But towards the end of his reign he imposed a tribute on them also (1 Kings v. 13, 14. ix. 15. xi. 27.), which alienated their minds, and sowed the seeds of that discontent, which afterwards ripened into open revolt by the rebellion of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
III. Afterwards, however, the Israelites being subdued by other nations, were themselves compelled to pay tribute to their conquerors. Thus Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, imposed a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. (2 Kings xxiii. 33. 35.) After their return from captivity, the Jews paid tribute to the Persians, under whose government they were (Ezra iv. 13. vii. 24.); then to the Greeks, from which, however, they were exonerated when under the Maccabees they had regained their liberty. In later times, when they were conquered by the Roman arms under Pompey, they were again subjected to the payment of tribute, even though their princes enjoyed the honours and dignities of royalty, as was the case with Herod the Great (Luke ii. 1-5.): and afterwards, when Judæa was reduced into a Roman province, on the dethronement and banishment of his son Archelaus, the Romans imposed on the Jews not only the annual capitation tax of a denarius, but also a tax on goods imported, or exported, and various other taxes and burthens. To this capitation tax the evangelists allude in Matt. xxii. 17. and Mark xii. 14. where it is termed voμiopa xnvσov (numisma census), or the tribute money. The Jews paid it with great reluctance; and raised various insurrections on account of it. Among these malcontents, Judas surnamed the Gaulonite or Galilean distinguished himself: he pretended that it was not lawful to pay tribute to a foreigner; that it was the badge of actual servitude, and that they were not allowed to own any for their master who did not worship the Lord. These sentiments animated the Pharisees, who came to Christ with the insidious design of ensnaring him by the question, whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar or not? Which question he answered with equal wisdom and regard for the Roman government. (Matt. xxii. 17-21.) With these sentiments the Jews continued to be animated long after the ascension of Jesus Christ: and it should seem that some of the first Hebrew Christians had imbibed their principles. In opposition to which, the apostles Paul and Peter in their inimitable epistles strenuously recommend and inculcate on all sincere believers in Jesus Christ, the duties of submission and obedience to princes, and a conscientious discharge of their duty, in paying tribute. (Rom. xiii. 8. 1 Pet. ii. 13.)
To supply the Jews who came to Jerusalem from all parts of the Roman empire to pay the half-shekel with coins current there, the money changers (xouisa) stationed themselves at tables, in the courts of the temple, and chiefly it should seem in the court of the
11 Mac. x. 29, 30. xi. 35, 36. xv. 5. Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xiii. c. 2. § 3. c. 4. § 9. c. 6. § 6.
Gentiles, for which they exacted a small fee, kolbon (xoλλuos). It was the tables on which these men trafficked for this unholy gain, which were overturned by Jesus Christ. (Matt. xxi. 12.)1
The money-changers (called rgareZirai in Matt. xxv. 7. and xegMarisa in John ii. 14.) were also those who made a profit by exchanging money. They supplied the Jews, who came from distant parts of Judæa and other parts of the Roman empire, with money, to be received back at their respective homes, or which perhaps they had paid before they commenced their journey. It is likewise probable that they exchanged foreign coins for such as were current at Jerusalem.
IV. The provincial tributes were usually farmed by Roman knights, who had under them inferior collectors: Josephus has made mention of several Jews who were Roman knights,3 whence Dr. Lardner thinks it probable that they had merited the equestrian rank by their good services in collecting some part of the revenue. The collectors of these tributes were known by the general name of Teλwval, that is, PUBLICANS, or tax-gatherers. Some of them appear to have been receivers-general for a large district, as Zaccheus, who is styled a chief publican (Agxirsλwns.) Matthew, who is termed simply a publican (Teλwvns), was one who sat at the receipt of custom where the duty was paid on imports and exports. (Matt. ix. 9. Luke v. 29. Mark ii. 14.) These officers, at least the inferior ones (like the rahdars or toll-gatherers, in modern Persia), were generally rapacious, extorting more than the legal tribute; whence they were reckoned infamous among the Greeks, and various passages in the Gospels show how odious they were to the Jews (Mark ii. 15, 16. Luke iii. 13.), insomuch that the Pharisees would hold no communication whatever with them, and imputed it to our Saviour as a crime that he sat at meat with publicans. (Matt. ix. 10, 11. xi. 19. xxi. 31, 32.) The payment of taxes to the Romans was accounted by the Jews an intolerable grievance: hence those who assisted in collecting them were detested as plunderers in the cause of the Romans, as betrayers of the liberties of their country, and as abettors of those who had enslaved it; this circumstance will account for the contempt
1 Grotius, Hammond, and Whitby, on Matt. xxi. 12. Dr. Lightfoot's Works, vol. ii. P. 225.
2 Cicero, in Verrem, lib. iii. c. 72. Orat. pro Planco, c. 9. De Petitione Consulatus, c. 1. Tacit. Annal. lib. iv. c. 6.
3 De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 14. § 9.
4 The rahdars, or toll-gatherers, are appointed to levy a toll upon Kafilehs or caravans of merchants; "who in general exercise their office with so much brutality and extortion, as to he execrated by all travellers. The police of the highways is confided to them, and whenever any goods are stolen, they are meant to be the instruments of restitution; but when they are put to the test, are found to be inefficient. None but a man in power can hope to recover what he has once lost.......The collections of the toll are farmed, consequently extortion ensues, and as most of the rahdars receive no other emolument than what they can exact over and above the prescribed dues from the traveller, their insolence is accounted for on the one hand, and the detestation in which they are held on the other," Morier's Second Tour, p. 70.
and hatred so often expressed by the Jews in the evangelical histories against the collectors of the taxes or tribute.1
The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke xviii. 1013.) will derive considerable illustration from these circumstances. Our Saviour, in bringing these two characters together, appears to have chosen them as making the strongest contrast between what, in the public estimation, were the extremes of excellence and villany. The Pharisees, it is well known, were the most powerful sect among the Jews, and made great pretences to piety: and when the account of the Persian rahdars given in the preceding page is recollected, it will account for the Pharisee, in addressing God, having made extortioners and the unjust, almost synonymous terms with publicans; because, from his peculiar office, the rahdar is almost an extortioner by profession.2
1 Lardner's Credibility, part i. book i. c. 9. § 10 11.
ON THE TREATIES, OR COVENANTS, AND CONTRACTS OF THE JEWS.
I. Whether the Jews were prohibited from concluding treaties with heathen nations.-II. Treaties, how made and ratified.—Covenant of Salt.-Allusions in the Scriptures to the making of Treaties or Covenants.-III. Contracts for the Sale and Cession of Alienable Property, how made.
I. A TREATY is a pact or covenant made with a view to the public welfare by the superior power. It is a common mistake that the Israelites were prohibited from forming alliances with Heathens: this would in effect have amounted to a general prohibition of alliance with any nation whatever, because, at that time all the world were Heathens. In the Mosaic law, not a single statute is enacted, that prohibits the conclusion of treaties with heathen nations in general; although for the reasons therein specified, Moses either commands them to carry on eternal war against the Canaanites, Amalekites, Moabites, and Ammonites, or else forbids all friendship with these particular nations. It is however clear, from Deut. xxiii. 4-9., that he did not entertain the same opinion with regard to all foreign nations for in that passage, though the Moabites are pronounced to be an abomination to the Israelites, no such declaration is made respecting the Edomites. Further, it is evident that they felt themselves bound religiously to observe treaties when actually concluded, though one of the contracting parties had been guilty of fraud in the transaction. David and Solomon lived in alliance with the king of Tyre; and the former with the king of Hamath (2 Sam. viii. 9, 10.); and the queen of Sheba cannot be regarded in any other light than as an ally of Solomon's. The only treaties condemned by the prophets are those with the Egyptians and Assyrians, which were extremely prejudicial to the nation, by involving it continually in quarrels with sovereigns more powerful than the Jewish monarchs.
II. Various solemnities were used in the conclusion of treaties; sometimes it was done by a simple junction of the hands. (Prov. xi. 21. Ezek. xvii. 18.) The Hindoos to this day ratify an engagement by one person laying his right hand on the hand of the other.1 Sometimes also the covenant was ratified by erecting a heap of stones, to which a suitable name was given, referring to the subjectmatter of the covenant (Gen. xxxi. 44-54.); that made between Abraham and the king of Gerar was ratified by the oath of both parties, by a present from Abraham to the latter of seven ewe lambs, and by giving a name to the well which had given occasion to the
1 Ward's View of the History, &c. of the Hindoos, vol. ii. p. 328.