Tribute to Caesar (Lk 20:22-20:22)

“Is it lawful

For us

To pay taxes

To Caesar,

The Roman Emperor,

Or not?”

 

ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

 

Luke indicated this group asked whether it was lawful for them (ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς) to pay taxes (φόρον δοῦναι) to Caesar (Καίσαρι), the Roman Emperor, or not (ἢ οὔ)?  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Mark, chapter 12:14, but slightly different.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Matthew indicated that these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians were there.  The Israelites with the Pharisees were there also.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.  Do you like to pay taxes?

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Lawful to pay taxes (Mk 12:14-12:14)

“‘Is it lawful

To pay taxes

To the emperor Caesar?

Or not?

Should we pay them?

Or should we not?’”

 

ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ; δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Luke, chapter 20:22, but slightly different.  These Pharisees and these Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius, worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians, and the religious Israelite Pharisees were both there.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.

The question about taxes (Mt 22:17-22:17)

“Tell us!

Then,

What do you think?

Is it lawful

To pay taxes

To Caesar

Or not?”

 

εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν, τί σοι δοκεῖ; ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 12:14, and Luke, chapter 20:22, but slightly different.  Then these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians, and the Israelites, the Pharisees, were there.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.

Pay the tax anyway (Mt 17:27-17:27)

“However,

Not to give offense

To them,

Go to the sea!

Cast a hook!

Take the first fish

That comes up!

When you open its mouth,

You will find a coin.

Take that!

Give it to them

For you

And for me!”

 

ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς, πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν βάλε ἄγκιστρον καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον, καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ εὑρήσεις στατῆρα· ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  After just saying that they did not have to pay the Temple tax, Jesus reminded them that they should not offend or scandalize the Temple tax collectors (ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς).  He told Peter to go the sea (πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν), probably the Sea of Galilee, and throw out a hook into the sea (βάλε ἄγκιστρον).  Peter was to catch the first fish that came up out of the water (καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον).  Then Peter was to open the mouth of this fish (καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ).  He would find a coin called a “statara” “στατῆρα,” in its mouth (εὑρήσεις στατῆρα).  This coin was worth about 2 didrachmas, enough to pay the temple tax for two people.  Thus, Peter was to pay the Temple tax collectors for Peter and himself (ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ).  The money did not come from Jesus and his disciples, but from this magic fish.  There was no mention of the other disciples paying this tax.

Casting Lots (Prov 18:18-18:21)

“Casting the lot puts an end to disputes.

Casting lots decides between powerful contenders.

An ally offended is stronger than a city.

Such quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

From the fruit of the mouth,

One’s stomach is satisfied.

The yield of the lips

Brings satisfaction.

Death and life

Are in the power of the tongue.

Those who love it

Will eat its fruits.”

Casting lots was a way of finding out God’s will. This is how you put an end to disputes and arguments between powerful people. If you offend your ally he will become stronger than a city. This kind of quarreling is like the bars on a castle that cannot be torn down or bring about reconciliation. You satisfy your stomach through your mouth. So too the words of your lips will bring satisfaction. Life and death are in power of the tongue. When you love something, you will eat its fruits or enjoy the results.

The sin of Job is rebellion (Job 34:31-34:37)

“Has anyone said to God?

‘I have endured punishment.

I will not offend anymore.

Teach me what I do not see.

If I have done iniquity,

I will do it no more.’

Will he then pay back to suit you

Because you reject it?

You must choose!

Not I!

Therefore declare what you know.

Those who have sense will say to me.

The wise who hear me will say.

‘Job speaks without knowledge.

His words are without insight.’

Would that Job were tried to the limit,

Because his answers are those of the wicked.

He adds rebellion to his sin.

He claps his hands among us.

He multiplies his words against God.”

If only Job had said that he would not offend God anymore, he might have been all right. If only he had asked God what he did wrong, so that he could learn the right way. Those with any knowledge at all would say that Job spoke without knowledge. He was dumb. His words had no insight. He answered like a wicked man. He seemed to be rebellious against God in a lot of what he said. This is the accusation of Elihu against Job.

Eliphaz speaks to Job (Job 4:1-4:6)

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered.

‘If one ventures a word with you,

Will you be offended?

But who can keep from speaking?

See!

You have instructed many.

You have strengthened the weak hands.

Your words have supported those who were stumbling.

You have made firm the feeble knees.

But now it has come to you.

You are impatient.

It touches you.

You are dismayed.

Is not your fear of God your confidence?

Is not the integrity of your ways your hope?’”

Now finally, someone other than Job speaks. Eliphaz the Temanite, who was one of his 3 friends, felt that he was forced to speak. Although he did not want to offend Job, he started out gently. He will represent the traditional opinion of retribution that God was punishing Job for something that he had done. Eliphaz reminded Job that he had instructed many people. Using beautiful metaphors, he said that Job had strengthened the weak, supported the stumbling, and firmed up the feeble. However, now the problems have come to Job. Suddenly Job was impatient. Where was his confidence in God? Where was his hope based on his integrity? Eliphaz chided Job for being impatient and not trusting in God.