Matthew 17:24 says:

"After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

My professor uses this verse as an example of the "Fiscus Judaicus," which would've been in operation after the Jewish Revolt in 70 C.E. His point is that Matthew erred and accidentally included a function that was present during the time Matthew wrote his gospel (roughly around 70 C.E), but would not have existed during Jesus' day.

So, my question becomes: Has Matthew erred in his writing and included a governmental function that did not exist in Jesus' day?

  • 2
    What is the basis for believing the office did not exist during Jesus' time? – guest37 Apr 28 '17 at 3:28
  • 1
    I am not denying that the office existed during Jesus' time. I am rather trying to figure out what the office was, if in fact it was Fiscus Judaicus. – Logan Baxter Apr 28 '17 at 3:46
  • 1
    This question would be a good fit for Hermeneutics.SE. – Mark Edward Apr 28 '17 at 5:20
  • 2
    If my question needs to be rephrased or anything, I am more than happy to do so. This question is less about the interpretation of the scripture, and more about the extra biblical evidence of a temple tax on the jews of Jesus' day. – Logan Baxter Apr 28 '17 at 5:36
  • 1
    Your professor seems to be conflating the Fiscus Judaicus with the Jewish Temple tax. @KadalikattJosephSibichan explains it well. – guest37 Feb 2 '18 at 14:11

The tradition of giving half-a shekel to the Temple of God dates back to the times of the book of Exodus, as we see at Exodus 30:11-13 (RSVCE):

The Lord said to Moses, “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. Each who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the Lord.”

There were different taxes meant for the Temple and for the Roman Empire, as we read in Matthew 22:17-21 (RSVCE):

“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

In fact, the Jews were required to pay the Temple-tax using the drachmas bearing Hebrew inscription and symbols, whereas the tax to Romans would be paid using the coins having the imprints of Caesar. The role of money-changers in the Temple was to facilitate exchange of the coins, so that the faithful would be able to pay their Temple-tax and offerings in Jewish coins.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.