Do the sons of the king pay the tax? (Mt 17:25-17:26)

“When Peter came home,

Jesus anticipated

What Peter was going to say.

He asked him.

‘What do you think?

Simon!

From whom do kings

Of the earth

Take taxes

Or tributes?

Do they demand that

From their children

Or from other strangers?’

When Peter said.

‘From other strangers.’

Jesus said to him.

‘Then indeed

The children

Are free.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθόντα εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προέφθασεν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Τί σοι δοκεῖ, Σίμων; οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τίνων λαμβάνουσιν τέλη ἢ κῆνσον; ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων;

εἰπόντος δέ Ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἄραγε ἐλεύθεροί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοί.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  When Peter came home (καὶ ἐλθόντα εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν), after talking to the collectors of the Temple tax, Jesus anticipated that Peter (προέφθασεν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) was going to ask him about this tax.  He spoke to him, addressing him as Simon, and not Peter, as he asked him what did he think (λέγων Τί σοι δοκεῖ, Σίμων) about paying this tax?  Jesus wanted to know if the kings of the earth take taxes (οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τίνων λαμβάνουσιν τέλη ἢ κῆνσον) from their own sons or children or rather from other strangers (ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων).  Peter responded that kings take their taxes and tolls from other strangers (εἰπόντος δέ Ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων), not their children.  Then Jesus said to him that indeed the sons or the children are free from this obligation to pay taxes (ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἄραγε ἐλεύθεροί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοί).  Jesus implied that they were the sons or children of God.

Do they pay the temple tax? (Mt 17:24-17:25)

“When they reached

Capernaum,

The collectors

Of the temple tax

Came to Peter.

They said.

‘Does your teacher

Not pay the tax?’

Peter said.

‘Yes!

He does!’”

 

Ἐλθόντων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ προσῆλθον οἱ τὰ δίδραχμα λαμβάνοντες τῷ Πέτρῳ καὶ εἶπαν Ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν οὐ τελεῖ δίδραχμα;

λέγει Ναί.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  Jesus and his disciples had come back to Capernaum (Ἐλθόντων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ).  The collectors of the temple tax came to Peter (προσῆλθον οἱ τὰ δίδραχμα λαμβάνοντες τῷ Πέτρῳ).  Once again, this is an indication of Peter’s leadership.  They asked him if his teacher had paid the temple tax (καὶ εἶπαν Ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν οὐ τελεῖ δίδραχμα).  Peter responded that Jesus did pay the tax with a simple yes answer (λέγει Ναί).  What is this temple tax?  It actually was a half-shekel or “δίδραχμα – didrachma.”  All the Israelite males over the age of 20 had to pay this half-shekel tax to the Jerusalem temple, once a year, sometime in March around Passover time.  In Capernaum, there was no temple, just a synagogue.  However, this might have been a group that was collecting for the temple tax in Jerusalem for those who were not going to go to Jerusalem for the Passover.  The value of a shekel would have been around $5.00 USA, so that each male had to pay about $2.50, not a big deal for a once a year tax.  This incident probably made more sense in Jerusalem itself.