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TRIBUTE (Heb. mas, forced laborers, middâh, tribute, toll, Gr. kēnsos, tax, census, phoros, tax, burden). The word mas occurs twenty-two times in the OT and is usually translated “tribute” in the KJV. Solomon conscripted a force of task-workers consisting of thirty thousand men (
More often, particularly after the division of the kingdom, the Israelites found themselves vassals rather than overlords and paid tribute to others. Syria collected tribute from Israel, the northern kingdom, as the price for peace (
With Judah, the southern kingdom, the situation was much the same. Already mentioned is the payment made by Ahaz when he appealed to Assyria for help (
When NT history began, Rome was the dominant power. Roman taxation was mainly indirect; but apart from this tribute was levied, which was a form of direct tax. Between 404 and 167 b.c. tribute was intermittently imposed on Rom. citizens to pay for the costly wars which filled that period. After 167 b.c. only provincials paid the tributum, a fixed sum for some provinces, and a variable amount for others. This payment applied to all provincials, whether Rom. citizens or not. Under the empire, a distinction was made between the tributum soli (imposed on provincial land) and the tributum capitis (imposed on all other forms of property). Tribute was based on the census, but the rate is unknown. Grants of immunity might be given to communities or individuals for various reasons.
For general matters concerning Syria and Judaea: Pauly-Wissova, Real-Encyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft (1939), VII A1, 44-47; Oxford Classical Dictionary; IDB.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(1) an income tax,
(2) the poll tax.
The latter must be paid by women and slaves as well as by free men, only children and aged people being exempted. The payment exacted began with the 14th year in the case of men and the 12th in the case of women, the obligation remaining in force up to the 65th year in the case of both. For purposes of assessment, each person was permitted to put his own statement on record. After public notice had been given by the government, every citizen was expected to respond without personal visitation by an official (see
See also TAX, TAXING.
Frank E. Hirsch