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Lesson 121: The Miracle of Nature- The Tribute Money, Temple Tax

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

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INTRODUCTION. When the Law of Moses was delivered to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai and the people were numbered, every male twenty years old and upward was required to give a half-shekel offering to the Lord. This money was used for the service of the tabernacle (Ex. 30:11-16).

At first it does not appear that this was an annual payment, but by New Testament times a yearly tax for support of the temple was indeed the custom. Nevertheless, there was disagreement among the Jews whether this tax was voluntary or compulsory, and certainly there was no means to enforce payment.

The half-shekel (Gr. didrachma, two-drachma) was a Jewish coin worth about thirty cents, approximately the amount of wages for two days at that time. This temple tax was strictly a Jewish concern and should not be confused with the taxes required by the Romans for the support of the Roman Empire.

The setting for this miracle is Capernaum, and Peter is asked by those who gathered the temple tax if Jesus had paid the half-shekel. Peter quickly answered, "Yes." Jesus then used the occasion to teach Peter a lesson regarding the relationship of Jesus Christ the Son to God the Father.

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