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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 16: Matthew 21:1-46, by Kevin M. Williams

From Adar, and through Passover (a great pilgrim feast when males of age would be coming to the Temple to make the requisite offerings), they would fill the temple treasury chests with the holy half-shekel. This in and of itself was perfectly acceptable, and in fact, required of the Almighty. Exodus 30:12-15 reads:

“When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD. The rich shall not pay more, and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves.”

These holy half-shekels were placed in large chests, evident to everyone. But as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” You will note that Yeshua overturned the tables, though nothing is said about the chests. Yeshua, the Torah reverent man that He was, understood the need for the chests. His objection was with what was on the tables.

When a person came to the temple, they had to purchase a “holy” half-shekel since a common one would not do. The priest charged an exchange fee for this service, and these kolbon pieces were left on the tables, appropriately separate from the holy half-shekels.

Before anyone gets the idea, therefore, that God is opposed to profit, the lesson does not end there. The fee was not the problem; it was how some of the fees were acquired that was the problem.

“Therefore … the exchangers … received it of those that gave it, and compelled those that did not. … and then compelled them to give; and from him that did not give they forced a pledge, even his very coat” (Lightfoot, p. 275).

The books of Exodus and Deuteronomy have some specific instructions about taking a man’s coat/cloak as collateral.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2005

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.

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