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Jewish Hatred for Tax Collectors in Biblical Times

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Jewish Hatred for Tax Collectors in Biblical Times

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  • November 2011
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During the time of Jesus’ life, the Jewish people were under Roman occupation. The powerful nation demanded payment from the Jews in the form of taxes. These taxes were used to help strengthen the growing Roman Empire and at the same time, weaken the conquered state of Judea. Eventually, these taxes became nearly unbearable and a rebellion was brewing (Anchor, 337). Roman officials and the tax farmers often employed the Jews to collect money from the Jewish people (New International, 714). In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus had dinner with tax collectors. People were very upset when they heard this, especially the Pharisees. There were two main reasons why the Jewish people had tremendous hatred towards tax collectors. First, they collected money for the powerful Roman Empire and second, they were growing wealthy at the expense of their own people.

In 63 B.C.E, the Roman Empire took over the Jewish homeland and in return, they were forced to pay tribute to them through taxes (Anchor, 337). It is well known that the Romans were ruthless in territory acquisition. They were an empire, which means they wanted absolute power. For many years under Roman control, the Jews yearned for their independence (Interpreter’s, 522). In the eyes the Jews, anyone who worked with the Romans was a traitor. To make it worse, the Romans were very unfair with their wealth distribution. The wealthiest 1% of the population held about 65% of the wealth. Working with the Romans would be like Jewish men working with the Nazis during WWII to help fund the holocaust. Paying taxes to the Romans was also a sacrilegious act. For the Jews, God was the one and only Lord of Israel and it would be wrong to pay money to the “divine “emperor (Interpreter’s, 522).

The Jewish people were an oppressed nation under Roman rule. Over time, tax collecting became a very lucrative business since the collectors often took more money than necessary (Interpreter’s, 522). The Romans did not care how much money...

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