Matthew 22:21

New Testament

15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words. 16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality. 17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought him a denarius. 20 Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. 22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

Nedarim 28a

Babylonian Talmud

GEMARA: The Gemara asks, concerning the mishna’s statement that one may take a vow to tax collectors: But didn’t Shmuel say: The law of the kingdom is the law, i.e., there is a halakhic principle that Jews must obey the laws of the state in which they live? Since one must pay the tax determined by the kingdom, how did the Sages permit one to lie in order to avoid paying? Rav Ḥinnana said that Rav Kahana said that Shmuel said: The mishna is referring to a tax collector who has no fixed amount for collection established by the kingdom, but rather collects the tax arbitrarily. Therefore, this case is not included in the law of the kingdom. A Sage of the school of Rabbi Yannai said: The mishna is referring to a tax collector who establishes himself as such independently and was not appointed by the kingdom.

 Notes and References

"... On the surface, Jesus seems to be saying that Jews should pay their taxes to Rome, but on closer examination, the statement is actually quite equivocal and could be understood to be saying the opposite: yes, pay Caesar his due, but since God is the only true king (or so many Jews in Jesus’s day believed) nothing is really due Caesar, while Jews’ true loyalty remains with God, to whom they owe everything. A Roman could thus hear one thing, while an anti-Roman Jew might hear something more subversive ... The Jews, like everyone else, were ultimately subject to the royal authorities, of course, and they even found justification for this in the Talmudic legal principle of dina de-malkhuta dina , or “the law of the land is the law.” As a tight-knit group legally and religiously set apart from the surrounding Christian society, however, the Jewish communities also had ample room to run their own affairs according to the dictates of Jewish law. In Ashkenaz as elsewhere in the Jewish Diaspora, communities were guided by rabbinic and lay leaders, though the two were more closely intertwined than in other parts of the Jewish world. Generally, each community was independent and local custom was particularly cherished in Ashkenaz, and nowhere did a supreme, supralocal religious authority or clear hierarchical structure of religious leadership emerge ..."

Efron, John M. The Jews: A History (pp. 103-104, 191) Routledge, 2019

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