By Rabbi Jack Zimmerman,
Jewish Voice Staff Evangelist
In this fascinating six-part series, Rabbi Jack Zimmerman delves deep into Jewish tradition to explain the significance of Luke 20: 20-26 about paying taxes to Caesar. But before we can understand the tax system back in biblical times, we first have to understand the Jewish history of the day. Rabbi Jack Zimmerman explains how the high priest was picked and the role the high priest paid in getting tax money from the Jews.
Aaron was the first high priest. Josephus says that between the time of Aaron and the time of King Herod, there were a total of 55 high priests. All of those high priests had been elected or installed, if you will, to their position in the same manner: The way that a person became a high priest was that they would have to come from the Levitical family and all of the priests would get together and, in essence, cast lots. Whoever won the casting of the lot became the high priest.
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Once Herod became king, he stopped that practice. He didn’t want them casting lots anymore because if they did, any of them could become the high priest. Herod wanted to choose the one he wanted to be high priest so that he could gain control. When Herod chose who would be the high priest, he could then tell the high priest what to do. So, really, the high priest was working for Rome.
Herod wanted the high priest to do two things for him:
- Keep the Jewish people quiet and make sure they wouldn’t revolt
- Keep them paying their taxes
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Rabbi Jack’s Paying Taxes in Yeshua’s Day Blog Series:
- Picking a High Priest in Bible Times
- Temple Taxes and the ‘Den of Robbers’
- A Short History of Jewish Tax Revolt
- Torah and Taxes: The Age of Denarius
- Show Me the Money (the Denarius)!
- Paying Taxes to Caesar: Final Thoughts