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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 17: Matthew 22:1-40, by Kevin M. Williams

Then the Pharisees went and counseled together how they might trap Him in what He said.

And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.

And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away (Matthew 22:15-22).

Any number of hints are given to us here that might be missed by the modern eye. First, the Pharisees are specifically seeking to back Yeshua into a corner, and trap him with his own words. That much is at least obvious from the text. What is not so obvious is that these leading Pharisees sent their disciples (who would have been recognized as Pharisees by virtue of their style of dress) were in the company of Herodians, government officials, the oft adversaries of the Pharisees. An uneasy alliance had been formed to confront this so-called Messiah.

Their question about taxes therefore, was most convenient, having witnesses from the state on hand to testify to Yeshua’s answer. If this man from Galilee answered wrongly, the Herodians would have evidence they could use in court. Evidence the Pharisees could use to their advantage.

According to Dr. Dwight Pryor, a Messianic scholar based out of Dayton, Ohio, the Galilee had been the scene of no fewer than five tax revolts against the Roman authority, all of which had to be put down by military force. The last thing the Herodians, or the Romans would want during such a politically stressful time would be another rebellion. It may well have been the Pharisees’ intention to use this historical predilection to help in their entrapment of the Messiah.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 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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