Nazarene Space

Yeshua and the Temple Tax
James Scott Trimm

Important Messaage at the End of this Blog!


We read in the Goodnews according to Matthew:

24 And when they had come into K'far Nachum, they that received the drachma came
near to Kefa, and said to him, Does your rabbi pay the drachma?
25 And he said, Certainly. And as he came to the house, Yeshua prevented him, saying:
How seems it to you, Shim'on? The kings of the earth: of whom do they receive tribute
and custom? Of their own children, or of strangers?
26 And he said, Of strangers. Then Yeshua said to him: If so, the children are free.
27 But in order that we may not provoke them, go you to the sea, and cast the baited net,
and take the fish that first comes up. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find
a litra: that take, and give to them for Me and you.
(Matthew 17:24-27 HRV)

This passage deals with the collection of the Temple Tax as prescribed in the Torah:

11 And YHWH spoke unto Moshe, saying:
12 When you take the sum of the children of Yisra’el, according to their number, then
shall they give every man, a ransom for his soul unto YHWH, when you number them:
that there be no plague among them when you number them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passes among them that are numbered, half a
shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: the shekel is twenty gerahs; half a shekel for an
offering to YHWH.
14 Every one that passes among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and
upward, shall give the offering of YHWH.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than the half shekel,
when they give the offering of YHWH--to make atonement for your souls.
16 And you shall take the atonement money from the children of Yisra’el, and shall
appoint it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children
of Yisra’el before YHWH, to make atonement for your souls.
(Ex. 30:11-16 HRV)

The Pharisees and the Essenes had a dispute over the meaning of these verses.  The Pharisees understood these verses as prescribing an annual Temple Tax which was collected from everyone of twenty years of age or more, during the month of Adar:

On the first day of Adar they make public announcement concerning [payment of] sheqel dues… On the twenty-fifth [of Adar] they set up money changers’ tables in the provinces.  On the twenty-fifth [of Adar] they set them up in the Temple.  Once they were set up in the Temple, they began to exact pledges [from those who had not paid the tax in specie]….
(m.Shek. 1:1, 3)

However the Qumran community had a different Halachah. They taught:

...concerning the Ransom: the money of the valuation
which a man gives as ransom for his life shall be half
a shekel in accordance with the shekel of the sanctuary.
He shall give it only once in his life.
(4Q159 Frag 1; Col. 2; lines 6-7)

The key phrases here are “ransom for his soul unto YHWH” and “to make atonement for your souls”.  The word for “soul” in Hebrew is NEFESH meaning “soul, life or self”.  The Essenes taught that once a man ransomed his NEFESH (life), his entire life was ransomed.

When Kefa (who had come from an Essne background) was asked “Does your rabbi pay the drachma?”? He was being asked about this particular halachic issue.  Kefa responds “yes” but Yeshua later instructs him saying that neither himself, nor Kefa nor apparently any of his followers owe the Temple tax because they are all “children of the King” already having redeemed their NEFESH.  

Now if Yeshua held to this Essene Halachah then He would not believe that he or his followers owed the tax, if they had already paid it at least once in their lifetime. This would explain why Kefa said that Yeshua pays the tax, while Yeshua claims that he and his followers don't owe the tax.

Yeshua then says:

But in order that we may not provoke them, go you to the sea, and cast the baited net,
and take the fish that first comes up. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find
a litra: that take, and give to them for Me and you.
(Matt. 17:27 HRV)

This is very similar to a narrative found in the Talmud:

Joseph-who-honours-the-Sabbaths had in his victory a certain  gentile who owned much property. Soothsayers told him,  ‘Joseph-who-honours-the-Sabbaths will consume all your property. [So] he went, sold all his property, and bought a precious stone with the proceeds, which he set in his turban. As he was crossing a bridge the wind blew it off and cast it into the water, [and] a fish swallowed it. [Subsequently] it [the fish] was hauled up and brought [to market] on the Sabbath eve towards sunset. ‘Who will buy now?’ cried they. ‘Go and take them to Joseph-who-honours-the-Sabbaths,’ they were told, ‘as he is accustomed to buy.’ So they took it to him. He bought it, opened it, found the jewel therein, and sold it for thirteen  roomfuls of gold denarii. A certain old man met him [and] said,  ‘He who lends to the Sabbath, the Sabbath repays him.’
(b.Shabbat 119a)

It would appear that the fish had swallowed a litra which Kefa then found inside.  Yeshua foreknew that YHWH had provided the Temple Tax for them in this manner.

So we learn two lessons from this account.  We learn that the Temple Tax is due only once in a person’s lifetime, and we also learn that it is permissible to keep a stricter halacha in order to maintain unity with the larger Jewish community.


We must raise $500 by the end of the day today

to stop the eviction!

As you may know, our rent has been past due. We got the certified mail early this week, at that time we owed, including late fees, $2,373.

Unfortunately it took us too long to raise this money.  We tried to pay the rent late last week on their website, but the site said our account did not exist.  We called first thing the next morning and learned that an eviction was already filed.   They are willing to withdraw the eviction, but we are going to have to pay their legal fees to make that happen.

We just got word yesterday that we now must pay a total of $2964.79 by  the end of March for them to dismiss the eviction!

A donation of any amount will help!


As many of you know, my wife recently got home after a more than fifty day hospitalization.  She spent that time fighting for her life (she was put in ICU on a ventilator twice, and had three major surgeries.)  We came home broke. Now the electric bill and rent are both due. 

 As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.


You can donate by going to the pay-pal counter at or donations can be sent by paypal to

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

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