a tax imposed by the Romans. The tax-gatherers were termed
publicans (q.v.), who had their stations at the gates of cities,
and in the public highways, and at the place set apart for that
purpose, called the "receipt of custom" (Matt.9: 9; Mark 2:14),
where they collected the money that was to be paid on certain
goods (Matt.17:25). These publicans were tempted to exact more
from the people than was lawful, and were, in consequence of
their extortions, objects of great hatred. The Pharisees would
have no intercourse with them (Matt.5:46, 47; 9:10, 11).

A tax or tribute (q.v.) of half a shekel was annually paid by
every adult Jew for the temple. It had to be paid in Jewish coin
(Matt. 22:17-19; Mark 12:14, 15). Money-changers (q.v.) were
necessary, to enable the Jews who came up to Jerusalem at the
feasts to exchange their foreign coin for Jewish money; but as
it was forbidden by the law to carry on such a traffic for
emolument (Deut. 23:19, 20), our Lord drove them from the temple
(Matt. 21:12: Mark 11:15).