And behold [there was] a man named Zacchaeus
Or (yakz) , "Zaccai", a name in use among the Jews; see ( Ezra 2:9 ) . We often read of (yakz ybr) , "Rabbi Zaccai", or "Zacchaeus" F1, and very frequently of R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, a famous doctor that lived in the times of Christ, and even till after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews also make mention of one R. Zaccai, a prince of the seed of David the king, in later times F2. So that this man, as appears by his name, was a Jew, though some have thought him to have been a Gentile F3, perhaps because of his employment: but it does not follow from thence; for there were Jews that were publicans, as Levi, or Matthew, afterwards one of Christ's disciples; and also in Jewish writings, mention is made, as of (yrkn okwm) , "a stranger", or "a Gentile publican" F4, so likewise of (larvy okwm) , "an Israelite publican" F5; and such an one was Zacchaeus, as follows:
which was chief among the publicans;
the head of them in that place, to whom the rest brought the tax, tribute, or toll; he was the receiver general of the tax: at the toll booths, at bridges, for people's going over the water, there was (lwdg okwm) , "the greater publican", and (Nwjq okwm) , "the lesser publican" F6, who was deputy to the other. What sort of tax Zacchaeus was concerned in collecting, is not certain; however, he was a principal man in this employ, and had got great riches by it.
And he was rich;
was a person of figure among the publicans, and of substance, which he had gained in his post. And though the instances of rich men being called by grace are few, yet there have been some; and the rather this circumstance is mentioned, because it had been observed in the preceding chapter, how difficult, but not impossible, as this instance proves, it was for rich men to enter into the kingdom of God.
F1 T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 27. 2. & Yebamot, fol. 77. 2. Nazir, fol. 38. 1. & Nidda, fol. 41. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 90. 2.
F2 R. Benjamin Itinerar. p. 61, 94.
F3 Tertull. contr. Marcion. l. 4. c. 37.
F4 T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 113. 1.
F5 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Bava Kama, c. 10. sect. 1.
F6 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 78. 2.