Adult Jewish males throughout the Empire paid an annual two-drachma tax, based on Exodus 30:13-16, for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple (compare E. Sanders 1992:156). Even in Matthew's day, (probably) after the temple was destroyed, this tax remained important: after 70, the Romans required all Jewish people (including Jewish Christians maintaining allegiance to their Jewish heritage) to pay that tax to the Roman government (see CPJ 1:80-81; 2:119-36, 160-229; Hemer 1973; Carlebach 1975). For the sake of maintaining public identification with their Jewish heritage, Jewish Christians should join non-Christian Jews in paying the tax. The principle is that we must sometimes engage in otherwise unprofitable pursuits for the sake of upholding our witness as citizens of the communities where God has placed us.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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