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tribute, tax, toll

Monies paid to the government. Conquered peoples might be compelled to pay tribute to the foreign ruler (1Kgs 20:1-7; 2Kgs 17:1-6; Neh 5:4; Esth 10:1). Otherwise, the most common form of taxation throughout antiquity was that levied on agricultural produce (Gen 41:25-57). This often led to confiscation of land from those who could not pay taxes and, so, to the consolidation of landholdings in the hands of a wealthy elite. This division between wealthy landowners and peasants is reflected in a number of NT parables (Matt 20:1-16; Matt 21:33-41; Luke 12:13-21; Luke 12:42-46; Luke 14:11-27). The imposition of other taxes on individuals was often the incentive for a census (Luke 2:1-2; 2Sam 24). An ideology of resistance to such taxes underlies a question posed to Jesus (Mark 12:13-17). Every Israelite male was expected to pay an annual half-shekel offering toward the costs of the Temple (Matt 17:24).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.