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Easton's Bible Dictionary

The Publican

One who farmed the taxes (e.g., Zacchaeus, Luke 19:2) to be levied from a town or district, and thus undertook to pay to the supreme government a certain amount. In order to collect the taxes, the publicans employed subordinates (5:27; 15:1; 18:10), who, for their own ends, were often guilty of extortion and peculation. In New Testament times these taxes were paid to the Romans, and hence were regarded by the Jews as a very heavy burden, and hence also the collectors of taxes, who were frequently Jews, were hated, and were usually spoken of in very opprobrious terms. Jesus was accused of being a "friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 7:34).

Taxes

First mentioned in the command (Exodus 30:11-16) that every Jew from twenty years and upward should pay an annual tax of "half a shekel for an offering to the Lord." This enactment was faithfully observed for many generations (2 Chronicles 24:6; Matthew 17:24).

Afterwards, when the people had kings to reign over them, they began, as Samuel had warned them (1 Samuel 8:10-18), to pay taxes for civil purposes (1 Kings 4:7; 9:15; 12:4). Such taxes, in increased amount, were afterwards paid to the foreign princes that ruled over them.

In the New Testament the payment of taxes, imposed by lawful rulers, is enjoined as a duty (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13,14). Mention is made of the tax (telos) on merchandise and travellers (Matthew 17:25); the annual tax (phoros) on property (Luke 20:22; 23:2); the poll-tax (kensos, "tribute," Matthew 17:25; 22:17; Mark 12:14); and the temple-tax ("tribute money" = two drachmas = half shekel, Matthew 17:24-27; Compare Exodus 30:13). (See TRIBUTE .)

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Copyright Statement

These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for 'Publican and Taxes'". "Easton's Bible Dictionary", 1897.

The Tax Collectors in the Bible
 Tax Collectors in New Testament Times

The Tax Collectors
Overview 
Their Name
Their History 
Their Customs 
NT Tax Collectors 
Jesus and Tax Collectors
Dictionaries 
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Index
Conclusion

 


Tax Collectors

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