Domination by Rome
52. Taxation on the Jews :
51. ROME in 30AD
This period corresponds broadly to when Jesus practised his public life in Palestine, as the most probable date of his death is that of Easter - 30AD.
Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus in +14 AD. did not have his qualities, or his prestige. He became emperor of the Romans at the age of 56. His brutal character and his depraved morality did not make him loved by his subjects.
26 AD - SEJANUS, the emperor's favourite, poisoned Drusus the son of Tiberius, thanks to the complicity of the Empress Livilla, whom Sejanus also made his mistress.
29 AD - Tiberius had Sejanus condemned by the Senate to be thrown into the Tiber. All Sejanus' friends were hounded and persecuted, before being assassinated. Sejanus' son was killed and his children tortured in an appalling manner, their mother Apicata committed suicide learning that the torturer had raped her daughter before killing her. Livilla was also to be executed.
30 AD - The new Prefect MACRO lead the investigations of those who "were suspected" to have wanted Tiberius killed. The two sons of the great Roman general, Germanicus (to whom Rome owes so many victories and who was also the brother of Tiberius) - Nero and Drusus disappeared in horrible circumstances.
31 AD - Nero committed suicide on the Island of Pontia and Drusus let himself die of hunger. Their mother Agrippine, who was exiled in Pandetaria also allowed herself to die of hunger and it is said that a centurion took out her eye with a whip because she had offended him!
Blood flowed copiously on the roads of Rome, torture took place, and executions were carried out. Nevertheless, thousands of Jewish families lived in the capital at this time, because one family in every 20 in the country was a practising Diaspora Jew family and they did not hide from freely practising their religion.
It was under the period of Cesar-Augustus (the divine) that the Jews had obtained the right to pray in their synagogue, in spite of the fact that the worship of the emperor was obligatory all over the empire.
In this climate one understands why Pontius Pilate, procurator and supreme judge of Rome in Judea and Samaria, was suddenly going to become fearful and yield to the blackmail of the Jewish rulers in abandoning a man whose innocence he was convinced of, as he would wash his hands in public to show that he had nothing to do with this condemnation to death.
Because he did not wish, in any circumstances to run the risk of being "denounced" as being an enemy-plotter against the Emperor of Rome.
John 19 v 12 but when the Jews said to him:
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying,
- If thou let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. This account, written by John is clear and unambiguous.
2. Rome - 37AD
For about ten years, the Emperor Tiberius had been retired in Capri where he had made for himself twelve houses of pleasure and debauchery in which he received numerous young girls, which his guards had out rightly taken away from their parents in order to satisfy his perverted pleasures.
In one of them, he reserved himself a room for his secret orgies. It was with a morbid pleasure that he watched how tortured people were thrown into the sea, those who had already undergone long hours of slow torture and who were going to end up in the blue water of the Gulf of Naples.
The death of Tiberius: 16th March 37AD.
People at this time felt very happy! But it was not yet known that Caligula the worst of the emperors, who was suffering from madness, was going to succeed him.
Rome in the first century
52. TAXATION OF JEWS
From time immemorial, Kings and the governments in power collected their subjects' taxes. In Palestine, direct taxes reached their culminating point when the kingdom was being run by Herod the Great who had saddled his taxpayers with numerous and very large public works and in particular, those of Cesar and the expansion of the great temple where Jesus preached.
In Jesus' time there was several type of taxes:
1. Direct standard taxation
(taxes in cash or in consumable materials).
- Payment of the occupying Romans' expenses and also their barracks expenses especially in winter where the army were resting.
- Taxes collected by the regional authorities: The Roman Governor Pilate in Judea and Samaria or the Tetrarques such as Herod Antipas in Galilee and Phillip in Tyre and Trachonitide.
- Basic tax which was aimed at the owners of houses and landowners.
- Tax from small farmers which often reached 20% of the harvest
- Personal tax on one's "wealth" which heavily penalised the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the other members of high society.
- · One therefore must not be surprised at the discontent of the people and above all, that of the Pharisees and the zealots (supporters of the resistance against the Roman invader). Thus it was that, very brazenly, that the religious heads accosted Jesus one day in order to ask him a very delicate question: :(Matthiew 22 v 17) and (Mark 12 v 13)And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Hero'dians, to catch him in his words.
"Tell us therefore, what you think - is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
It was an especially explosive issue - If Jesus replied YES, the crowd of the taxpayers and patriots who were there would have reproached Jesus for his collaboration with the occupier. If Jesus had said NO -the Pharisees and the Sadducees would have treated the Master as an initiator of the revolt against the Romans.
As he liked to do, especially in the case of a trick question, the Master would make them give the answer from their mouth in the form of a second question:
- Hypocrites, why do you test me? Show me the money which is going to pay the taxes. They showed him a denarius.
- Whose head is this and whose title?
- Cesar, they replied.
Then he said to them:
- Then give to Cesar what is Cesar's and give to God what is God's. They were surprised and went away.
2. Indirect taxation
They were comparable to our customs taxes and to our local taxes. They were collected in the markets, at the crossroads of the main roads and at the entrances to bridges and towns.
They represented, in short a right of passage collected by the state. The collectors of these taxes were treated by the pure Jews like rejects of society- impure people.
Matthew who was officiating at the entrance to Capernaum was one of these collectors for the public treasury, when Jesus asked him to follow Him. It is the same Mathew who told how, one day the Master settled his tax for him in a very strange manner:
Capernaum, the town at the side of a lake where Jesus used to live left its name in history to show a motley of all was found there in gay abandon. fashion.
Matthew 17 v 24
And when they were come to Caper'na-um, they that received tribute money, came to Peter, and said,
- Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying,
- What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
- Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
- Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money:
- that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Matthew, who had heard these words accompanied Peter with curiosity and he was very amused when Peter took out a piece of money from the fish's mouth that he had just taken from the waters of the great lake Gennesaret.
There was no way that Matthew (from his other Levi name) wanted to miss the discount from the curious payment to his "former colleagues". They dried the coin and looked at it suspiciously as if it was false. It was said that this coin was never given to the treasury but that it was exchanged and was carefully kept.
The fact remains that Peter on this day had also taken back a good catch home and that there was plenty of fish for everyone.
3. Religious taxation
A - THE TEMPLE TAX: it was a physical tax owed by every adult Israelite, that is by everyone of at 13 years of age. This tax was intended for the priests and high priests for the upkeep of the temple.
B - TITHES Levit. 27 v 30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone
Previously reserved for poor people, the tithes were collected by the clergy and only for it. The controls were severe because the Law of Moses considered it a serious mistake all misappropriation of funds by a Jew of this tenth of the collections reserved for the Lord, thus for the ministers of the worship.
It was this pernickety spirit that Jesus reproached the scribes and Pharisees for -who put so much zeal into paying the tithe but forgetting the essential: to practise the love of God and love of one's neighbour.
Matthew 23 v 23: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of 1mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
In any case, children really appreciated the collection of tithes, for their part of annual festivities. They collected in about 30 centres all the provisions intended for the Lord. They put them on carts which were drawn by oxen or by horses and they decorated the carts with newly cut branches and flowers of many colours. It was usual to make an offering for the temple their best fruits; their nicest bunches of flowers, their very best vegetables. Everyone put on their best clothes and walked in a cortege towards the holy city of Jerusalem, singing hymns and religious psalms. The elite of the clergy awaited them by the temple dressed in their ceremonious robes.
C. - RELIGIOUS SACRIFICES
These were offerings which were offered to the Lord to attain grace.
This law was very modulated according to the income and of the wealth of the person who was offering it. Thus Jesus' parents modestly gave to the temple two doves.
This custom of sacrificing an ox, or a bird also existed since ancient times in Egypt, thus was found again near Saqqarah (not far from Cairo) some cemeteries containing hundreds of thousands of Ibis which after having been sacrificed by the priests in order to be offered to the gods had been then embalmed and buried in the cemeteries which had been specially reserved for them.
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