Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 14: Matthew 17:24-18:16, by Kevin M. Williams

Overall, when it came to the temple and those traditions that served to honor God—and apparently those imposed by the local municipality—Yeshua concurred.

According to John Lightfoot’s New Testament Commentary From the Talmud and Hebraica, this half-shekel, two-drachma tax (about two days of wages) was used in the Temple to purchase the daily animal sacrifices used throughout the year: “the shewbread, all the sacrifices of the congregation, the red [heifer], the scapegoat” (Vol. 2, p. 250). In other words, Yeshua—the bodily representation of the High Priest and the spiritual representation of these offerings—should have been receiving the tax, not paying it.

Nonetheless, as the One who kept Torah perfectly, He honored Exodus 30:11-16 as well as the newer customs of paying in the local city. Yet the point should not be overlooked: to the King’s Son—the Messiah—was due the tax. Without coming right out and saying words that could be used against him in court before His time had come, Yeshua was giving them another clear indication of His messianic identity.

One more bit of information may be gleaned from this passage. As our Exodus reference records, this tax was imposed only on those men 20 to 50 years old. Yeshua tells Simon to go and collect the coin needed from the fish to pay for two of them, for Yeshua and for Peter—but what about the 11 other disciples? According to author and lecturer Ray Vander Laan, in his series Following in the Footsteps of the Rabbi, except for Peter, the other disciples were likely under the age of 20 and therefore, no tax was required of them.

While a radical concept for many brought up looking at murals and paintings of wizened sages, Vander Laan’s assumption has merit. Within the culture of the day, Hebrew boys were educated early on in Torah around 5-years of age. They began their studies in Leviticus and by the time they were between 8-10, had an extremely good working knowledge of the Pentateuch. Next in their education were the study halls, where they would be drilled in the oral traditions. By the time they were teen-agers (middle aged in those days), they would either chose a trade—likely following in their father’s footsteps—or, if worthy, would go on in their studies, usually sitting at the feet of a rabbi. For Yeshua to have a group of 13-20 year old males following him from city to city would have been very commonplace. To be summoned by a rabbi—as Yeshua did of his disciples—would have been a particular honor, and at their age, an honor for their parents as well. “My son is studying with a rabbi,” would have foregone many arguments about leaving the “family business.”

Pin It
Page 2 of 712345...Last »

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Summer 2004

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?