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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Tax Collector

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The Roman taxation system operated on a plan where each state was divided into a number of regions, in each of which an appointed person was to provide Rome with an agreed amount of tax for that region. This person then had to arrange for others to help him collect the taxes. These taxes included both direct personal taxes and taxes on goods that people transported from one district to another (Matthew 9:9). There were various grades of tax collectors (Luke 19:2).

All these tax collectors had to collect enough money to send to Rome the amount required, yet have enough left over as wages for themselves. The system gave much scope for corrupt practices (Luke 3:12-13; Luke 19:8). As a result tax collectors had a bad reputation, and were usually associated with the most despised people in society (Matthew 5:46; Matthew 9:10; Matthew 11:19; Matthew 18:17; Mark 2:15-17).

Jews hated both the Romans who ruled them and those who collected taxes for Rome, particularly if those tax collectors were Jews. It was almost as if they were traitors to their own people. Yet many tax collectors turned from their sin to believe in Jesus, and one even became a member of Jesus’ chosen group of twelve apostles (Matthew 9:9; Matthew 10:3; Matthew 21:31-32; Luke 18:13; Luke 19:2; Luke 19:9; see MATTHEW).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Tax Collector'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/t/tax-collector.html. 2004.

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