one who farmed the taxes (e.g., Zacchaeus, Luke 19:2) to be
levied from a town or district, and thus undertook to pay to the
supreme government a certain amount. In order to collect the
taxes, the publicans employed subordinates (5:27; 15:1; 18:10),
who, for their own ends, were often guilty of extortion and
peculation. In New Testament times these taxes were paid to the
Romans, and hence were regarded by the Jews as a very heavy
burden, and hence also the collectors of taxes, who were
frequently Jews, were hated, and were usually spoken of in very
opprobrious terms. Jesus was accused of being a "friend of
publicans and sinners" (Luke 7:34).