Head Tax

Matthew alone includes the story of collecting head tax. This is a prophetic story matching back to the time of Abraham. This article explores.

The Story

This is a story that Jesus uses to explain the parameters around paying tax to support a temple. Watch carefully as he distances himself and his followers from the religious system of the Temple.


24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" Matthew 17:2425"Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes -- from their own sons or from others?" Matthew 17:2526"From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:26-27
(Matthew 17:24-27 NIV)


The logic of this based on how earthly king's collect tax. They do not collect tax from their own sons, but from others. Sons here stands in for anyone who benefits from the tax so collected.

So the fact that tax is being asked for the temple means these men are NOT in the same family as those who run the temple. So Jesus and his disciples are not of the same faith community as the temple system.

This is a general statement about how people of faith are NOT in the same family as those who run religious temples of any sort. This continues to this day. Any religious institution collecting support from the public as a form of tax, sometimes called a tithe, is a false religion.

He then proceeds to give instructions on how to source the funds to pay the tax, and then to pay the tax. The reason he gives to do this is so as not to offend those collecting the tax. In other words to not cause trouble over this false request.

Abraham Did The Same

This is a story matched chronologically in this general series of parables against an episode in Abraham's day. Here is the text.

18Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:18-20
(Genesis 14:18-20 NIV)

The tenth that Abraham gave this false priest is from the plunder he had from a battle involving Sodom. This was Abraham's version of 'going fishing.' In Abraham's case it was down by the dead sea that he went fishing.

Abraham is paying the tax so as not to offend this priest, who is of a different family than Abraham. Remember, Abraham is the father of the faithful, and this priest is collecting tax from Abraham.

So Jesus is providing commentary here that this priest is not of the faith of Abraham. You can continue reading and Abraham is particularly concerned that this priest would take credit for making Abraham rich.(Gen 14:23). This because the priest and king pair would then take credit for Abraham's favor under Jesus.


This story is not precisely dated. But we know this was after he left Ur when he was 75 and before Isaac is born when Abraham is 100. We can inspect the data in a previous article and see Abraham's first year was 8784 AA so this event was between 8784 AA + 75 = 8859 AA and 8884 AA.