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CUSTOM. When not referring to a tax, usually means “manner,” “way,” or “statute” (Gen.31.35; Judg.11.39; Jer.32.11). Heathen religious practice is referred to in Lev.18.30 and Jer.10.3. In the NT it means “manner,” “usage” (Luke.1.9; Acts.6.14), and “religious practices.”

חֹק, H2976, derived from a verb meaning “to engrave,” “inscribe,” or “ordain” means “statute,” “regulation,” “law,” “decree.” It is tr. “custom” (Lev 20:23; Judg 11:39), but by various other terms in other passages, a prescribed due (Lev 6:11), or law in general (Ps 94:20).

דֶּ֫רֶכְ, H2006, literally “way,” is a metaphorical meaning to convey the idea of manner or usage, particularly with reference to personal habits or to moral life (Judg 2:19; 1 Sam 18:14; 2 Chron 13:22; see BDB, p. 203).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(a) halakh, Ezr 4:13,10; 7:24 the King James Version;

(b) belo, Ezr 4:13, etc.;

(c) telonion, Mt 9:9; Mr 2:14; Lu 5:27, "receipt of custom" the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "place of toll," the collectors’ office;

(d) telos, Mt 17:25 (the Revised Version (British and American) "toll"); Ro 13:7; 1 Macc 11:35 (the Revised Version (British and American) "tolls"; compare 1 Macc 10:31).

The tax designated by halakh in Ezr 4:13, etc., is usually taken to mean a road tax, a toll, from root halakh, but compare Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, II, 463, which derives from root ilku, a command, a decree, hence, an imposed tax. Belo from root yabhal is supposed to be a tax on merchandise or produce (as distinguished from "tribute" or the tax on houses, lands and persons), usually paid in kind and levied for the support of the native or provincial government. See Ryle, Cambridge Bible, Ezra- Nehemiah, in the place cited Telos in New Testament and Macc is an indirect tax farmed out to the publicans.

Walter R. Betteridge