Temple Taxes and the ‘Den of Robbers’

Second temple courtyard model

Second temple courtyard model

By Rabbi Jack Zimmerman,
Jewish Voice
Staff Evangelist

In part-two of this series about paying taxes during Bible times, as described in Luke 20:20-26, Rabbi Jack goes back to the well-known phrase “den of robbers” to properly dissect it in light of the original Old Testament reference and how that phrase meant volumes to the conniving high priests of the day whom Yeshua was speaking to in the latter portion of Luke 19.

In Luke 19: 45-46, it says, “Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “’My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’”

If you wanted to get the high priest riled up in Herod’s time, all you would have to do is say that. That would do it. Here’s why.

Yeshua comes riding into town. He goes into the temple and throws out the moneychangers. Do you know who put the moneychangers there in the first place? The high priest. So the moneychangers are working for the high priest.

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Yeshua comes in and wipes them away and then basically calls the place a den of robbers. The high priest knew exactly what Yeshua meant because in Jeremiah 7:11-15, that’s where you first hear the term den of robbers:

“Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.  ‘Go to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.”

What is God saying in that Jeremiah 7 passage? He is saying this place is a den of robbers. You defiled the temple. I am going to destroy it.

So, when Yeshua comes years later and He says to the high priest, “This place is a den of robbers,” the priest knows exactly what He means. The priest is basically hearing Yeshua say, “You, high priest, have defiled the temple, and it is going to fall under your watch.”

NOTE: All verses NIV.

Jewish Voice Ministries International

Book Rabbi Jack to talk to your church or congregation. Here’s our Speaker’s Schedule to find out when Jack is available. Also, if you want to know when the key Jewish holidays are, check out these Jewish Voice speaking dates.

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Rabbi Jack’s Paying Taxes in Yeshua’s Day Blog Series:

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