The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 13, No. 2
Alan D. Campbell NORTH TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY
THE MONETARY SYSTEM, TAXATION, AND PUBLICANS IN THE TIME OF CHRIST
Abstract: The Jews used bars and rings of gold and silver as money prior to using coins. Syrian, Roman, and Jewish coins were used during the time of Christ. The Roman Government imposed a tremendous tax burden upon its subjects. The peo-ple of Israel also had to pay a tax to the temple. Publicans, or tax collectors, were well known for their corruption. Thus, the Jews had utter contempt for pub-licans. Christ paid his share of taxes and taught that it was right to do so even under the corrupt system of the Romans.
What type of monetary system was used in Palestine in the time of Christ? How did taxes affect the lives of people living in Palestine during that time? How did the Romans collect taxes? What type of person was the average publican? What were the relationships among the Roman Government, the publicans, and the Jews? What was the attitude of Jesus Christ toward taxes and publicans? These questions concern a major part of the economic condition of Palestine during the time of Christ which this paper will address.
The Monetary System
Prior to the system of coins, bars and rings of gold and silver were used as media of exchange by the Jews. The values of these bars and rings were determined by a system of weights of which the standard was the shekel, which was equal to 224 troy grains. In Palestine gold coins were rarely used — values were based upon silver. The coins mentioned in the four gospels are Syrian, Roman, and Jewish [Muirhead, 1907, p. 48].
The Syrian coins were the stater, another name for which was argurion, the didrachmon, and the drachme. The stater corre-sponded to the Jewish shekel, and it was the largest silver coin used in Palestine. The didrachmon was equivalent to a half shekel,