A tax imposed by the Romans. The tax-gatherers were termed publicans (q.v.), who had their stations at the gates of cities, and in the public highways, and at the place set apart for that purpose, called the "receipt of custom" (Matthew 9: 9; Mark 2:14), where they collected the money that was to be paid on certain goods (Matthew 17:25). These publicans were tempted to exact more from the people than was lawful, and were, in consequence of their extortions, objects of great hatred. The Pharisees would have no intercourse with them (Matthew 5:46, 47; 9:10, 11).
A tax or tribute (q.v.) of half a shekel was annually paid by every adult Jew for the temple. It had to be paid in Jewish coin (Matthew 22:17-19; Mark 12:14, 15). Money-changers (q.v.) were necessary, to enable the Jews who came up to Jerusalem at the feasts to exchange their foreign coin for Jewish money; but as it was forbidden by the law to carry on such a traffic for emolument (Deuteronomy 23:19, 20), our Lord drove them from the temple (Matthew 21:12 Mark 11:15).