trib'-ut (mac, "tribute," really meaning "forced laborers," "labor gang" (1 Kings 4:6; 9:15,21); also "forced service," "serfdom"; possibly "forced payment" is meant in Esther 10:1; the idea contained in the modern word is better given by middah (Ezra 6:8; Nehemiah 5:4)):
Words used only of the duty levied for Yahweh on acquired spoils are mekhec, "assessment" (Numbers 31:28,37,38,39,40,41), belo, "excise" (Ezra 4:13,10; Nehemiah 7:24), massa', "burden" (2 Chronicles 17:11), and `onesh, "fine" or "indemnity" (2 Kings 23:33; compare Proverbs 19:19). The translation "tribute" for miccath, in Deuteronomy 16:10 is wrong (compare the Revised Version margin). kensos (Matthew 22:17; Mark 12:14) = "census," while phoros (Luke 20:22; 23:2; Romans 13:6,7), signifies an annual tax on persons, houses, lands, both being direct taxes. The phoroi were paid by agriculturists, payment being made partly in kind, partly in money, and are contrasted with the tele of the publicans, while kensos is strictly a poll tax. The amount of tribute required as a poll tax by the Romans was the didrachmon (Matthew 17:24), the King James Version "tribute," the Revised Version (British and American) "half-shekel." The stater (Matthew 17:27), was a tetradrachm, "one shekel," or pay for two. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews were required to pay this poll tax toward the support of the worship of Jupiter Capitolinus. Different kinds of personal taxes were raised by the Romans:
(1) an income tax,
(2) the poll tax.
The latter must be paid by women and slaves as well as by free men, only children and aged people being exempted. The payment exacted began with the 14th year in the case of men and the 12th in the case of women, the obligation remaining in force up to the 65th year in the case of both. For purposes of assessment, each person was permitted to put his own statement on record. After public notice had been given by the government, every citizen was expected to respond without personal visitation by an official (see Luke 2:1). On the basis of the records thus voluntarily made, the tax collectors would enforce the payment of the tribute.
See also TAX, TAXING.
Frank E. Hirsch
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