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.

Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:1-1:4)

“After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. He had previously become king of Greece. King Alexander fought many battles. He conquered strongholds. He put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth. He plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted. His heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army. He ruled over countries, nations, and princes. They became tributary to him.”

Once again, we have a book that is not in the Hebrew canon and therefore not in the King James Bible. However, it was part of the Septuagint, and the Vulgate of Jerome. Thus it is part of the Catholic tradition that places these books about the Maccabees as the last books of the so-called historical books of the Bible, as in the Jerusalem Bible that I am following. This is a semi-historical book of the late 2nd century BCE.

It starts out with the real historical figure of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), the son of Philip of Macedonia (382-336 BCE). Alexander was the king of Greece who defeated the Persian King Darius III (380-330 BCE). Alexander had gone to the ends of the earth, which meant India in the east. He killed many kings with his strong army. All the nations were beholden to him as he attempted to Hellenize the whole empire with a dominant Greek culture. This Greek culture produced the holy books of the Greek Jewish Old Testament Septuagint and the Greek Christian New Testament. At some point there were more Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria than there were Jews in Jerusalem.