(See PUBLICAN.) Each Israelite paid a half shekel as "atonement money" for the service of the tabernacle, the morning and evening sacrifice, the incense, wood, shewbread, red heifers, scape-goat, etc. (Exodus 30:13). This became an annual payment on the return from Babylon; at first only a third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32); afterward a half, the didrachma (Matthew 17:24); paid by every Jew wherever in the world he might be (Josephus Ant. 18:9, section 1). Under kings the taxes were much increased: a tithe of the soil's produce and of cattle (1 Samuel 8:15; 1 Samuel 8:17); forced military service, a month every year (verse 12; 1 Kings 9:22; 1 Chronicles 27:1); gifts, nominally voluntary but really imperative (like the Old English "benevolences"), and expected, as at the beginning of a reign or in war (1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 16:20; 1 Samuel 17:18). Import duties on foreign articles (1 Kings 10:15); monopolies of commerce; gold, linen from Egypt (1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:28); the first cuttings of hay, "the king's mowings" (Amos 7:1).
Exemption from taxes was deemed an ample reward for military service (1 Samuel 17:25). The taxes, not the idolatry, of Solomon caused the revolt under his son; and Adoram, as over the tribute, was the chief object, of hatred (1 Kings 12:4; 1 Kings 12:18). The Assyrian and Egyptian conquerors imposed heavy taxes on the Israelite and Jewish kings, Mendhem, Hoshea, Hezekiah, Josiah (2 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 17:4; 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 23:35). Under the Persian Darius Hystaspes each satrap had to pay a fixed sum which he levied from the people with extortion. Judaea had to provide for the governor's household daily maintenance, besides 40 shekels a day (Nehemiah 5:14-15). The three sources of revenue were:
(1) the mindah or "measured payment" or "toll," i.e. direct taxes;
(2) the excise on articles of consumption, "tribute," belo;
(3) "custom" (halak), payable at bridges, fords, and stations on the road (Ezra 4:13; Ezra 4:20). The priests, Levites, singers, porters, and Nethinim were exempted by Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:24). The distress of the people by taxes and forced service is pathetically described (Nehemiah 9:37). They mortgaged their lands to buy grain, and borrowed money at one per cent per month, i.e. 12 percent per year, to pay the king's tribute; failing payment they became slaves to their creditors. When Judaea fell under Rome, the taxes were farmed, namely, the "dues" (telos) at harbours and city gates, and the poll tax (census or epikephalaion); the lawfulness of the latter alone the rabbis questioned (Matthew 22:17). Judas of Galilee raised a revolt against it (Josephus Ant. 18:1, section 6; B.J. 2:8, sec. 1). Besides there was a property tax, the registry and valuation for which took place at Christ's birth and was completed by Quirinus Cyrenius after Archelaus' deposition (Luke 2:1-2). (See CYRENIUS.) The Christian's rule is Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7.
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'taxes' Fausset's Bible Dictionary".