Biblical Survey of Taxation

tax-seasonThis comes from the Logos 5 thematic outline on Taxation –

Synopsis: Any form of payment levied on people by a supervising authority.

Taxation exacted from subject nations

  • Tribute to Moab

Jdg 3:15; Jdg 3:17–18

Judges 3:15 (ESV) — 15 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.

Judges 3:17–18 (ESV) — 17 And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 And when Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute.

  • Tribute to David

2 Sa 8:2; 2 Sa 8:6

2 Samuel 8:2 (ESV) — 2 And he defeated Moab and he measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground. Two lines he measured to be put to death, and one full line to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.

2 Samuel 8:6 (ESV) — 6 Then David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

  • Tribute to Solomon

1 Ki 4:21

1 Kings 4:21 (ESV) — 21 Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

  • Tribute to Assyria

2 Ki 17:3; Ho 10:6

2 Kings 17:3 (ESV) — 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute.

Hosea 10:6 (ESV) — 6 The thing itself shall be carried to Assyria as tribute to the great king. Ephraim shall be put to shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his idol.

  • Tribute to Egypt

2 Ki 23:33

2 Kings 23:33 (ESV) — 33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

  • Tribute to Judah

2 Ch 17:11; 2 Ch 26:8; Is 16:1

2 Chronicles 17:11 (ESV) — 11 Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents and silver for tribute, and the Arabians also brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats.

2 Chronicles 26:8 (ESV) — 8 The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong.

Isaiah 16:1 (ESV) — 1 Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela, by way of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Zion.

  • Tribute to Persia

Es 10:1

Esther 10:1 (ESV) — 1 King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea.

Universal tribute

Ps 72:10 Universal tribute means universal reign. This psalm is widely regarded as Messianic.

Psalm 72:10 (ESV) — 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!

  • Refusal to pay tribute was a sign of rebellion

See also 2 Ki 17:4 ; Ezr 4:13

2 Kings 17:4 (ESV) — 4 But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.

Ezra 4:13 (ESV) — 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired.

Taxation for the support of the state

  • Land tax

2 Ki 23:35

2 Kings 23:35 (ESV) — 35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.

See also Ge 41:34 ; Ne 5:4

Genesis 41:34 (ESV) — 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years.

Nehemiah 5:4 (ESV) — 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards.

  • Census tax

Ex 30:11–16; Lk 2:1

Exodus 30:11–16 (ESV) — 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13 Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. 14 Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord’s offering to make atonement for your lives. 16 You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

Luke 2:1 (ESV) — 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

  • Trade tax

1 Ki 10:14–15

1 Kings 10:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 15 besides that which came from the explorers and from the business of the merchants, and from all the kings of the west and from the governors of the land.

  • Such levies may be unjustly burdensome

1 Sa 8:10–18

1 Samuel 8:10–18 (ESV) — 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

See also Da 11:20

Daniel 11:20 (ESV) — 20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.

Covenantal taxation: the tithe

  • Tithing prescribed

Le 27:30–33 As part of their covenantal obligations the Israelites were commanded to offer a tenth of their income to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:30–33 (ESV) — 30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

See also Ge 14:20

Genesis 14:20 (ESV) — 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

  • The tithe supported the priests and the poor

Nu 18:21

Numbers 18:21 (ESV) — 21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,

See also Dt 14:28–29

Deuteronomy 14:28–29 (ESV) — 28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

  • The tithe often seems to have been neglected

Mal 3:8–10

Malachi 3:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

See also 2 Ch 31:4

2 Chronicles 31:4 (ESV) — 4 And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord.

  • Taxation for the support of the temple

Mt 17:24–26

Matthew 17:24–26 (ESV) — 24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.

See also 2 Ch 24:4–12

2 Chronicles 24:4–12 (ESV) — 4 After this Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord. 5 And he gathered the priests and the Levites and said to them, “Go out to the cities of Judah and gather from all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that you act quickly.” But the Levites did not act quickly. 6 So the king summoned Jehoiada the chief and said to him, “Why have you not required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the tax levied by Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the congregation of Israel for the tent of testimony?” 7 For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had also used all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord for the Baals. 8 So the king commanded, and they made a chest and set it outside the gate of the house of the Lord. 9 And proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to bring in for the Lord the tax that Moses the servant of God laid on Israel in the wilderness. 10 And all the princes and all the people rejoiced and brought their tax and dropped it into the chest until they had finished. 11 And whenever the chest was brought to the king’s officers by the Levites, when they saw that there was much money in it, the king’s secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and take it and return it to its place. Thus they did day after day, and collected money in abundance. 12 And the king and Jehoiada gave it to those who had charge of the work of the house of the Lord, and they hired masons and carpenters to restore the house of the Lord, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the house of the Lord.

Jesus Christ and taxation

  • Jesus Christ was falsely accused of opposing taxation

Lk 23:1–2

Luke 23:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”

  • He himself paid tax

Mt 17:24–27

Matthew 17:24–27 (ESV) — 24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

  • He commanded others to pay taxes

Mt 22:15–22

Matthew 22:15–22 (ESV) — 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Believers and taxation

  • Paying taxes demonstrates submission to God

Ro 13:1; Ro 13:5–6; 1 Pe 2:13

Romans 13:1 (ESV) — 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

1 Peter 2:13 (ESV) — 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,

  • Paying taxes should silence unjust criticism

Ro 13:3; 1 Pe 2:15

Romans 13:3 (ESV) — 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

1 Peter 2:15 (ESV) — 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

  • Paying taxes is reimbursement for services rendered

Mt 22:15–22 “Give” in verse 21 means “give back as in settlement of a debt”; Ro 13:7

Matthew 22:15–22 (ESV) — 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Romans 13:7 (ESV) — 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

 

© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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