Luke 5.29 - Levi's party guests

wross wross at
Tue Jan 5 17:09:59 EST 1999

What could be responsible for the public opinion of them is that they
collected the rent on public lands.  The contract was
awarded every five years to the highest bidder by the censor, so old
Mattityahu Levi and his family (which may have included Jesus' uncle) must
have had some big shekels.

So you do agree that, at least as far the NT is concerned (and not just
popular church legends), the publicans had a particularly bad reputation?

New Bible Dictionary (Tyndale) reports:

...The system was very open to abuse, and the publicani seem to have been
prone to extortion and malpractice from the beginning, so that while the
grossest excesses were restrained by the government, and cases sometimes
brought to justice, a generally bad reputation has come down to us. Cicero
considered such occupations as that of customs officer vulgar on account of
the hatred they incurred (de Officiis, 1.42 % 150) and Livy records the
opinion, expressed in 167 BC that where there is a publicanua allies have
not liberty (45.18.3-4)...Their generally extorionate practices (cf. what
amounts to an admission in the words of Zacchaeus, Luke 19:8, and the
conditions implied by the counsel of John the Baptist, Luke 3:13) made them
an especially despised and hated class...

and continues:

For the strict Jew, however, this quite natural hatred was aggravated and
altered in character by the religious consideration that the telones was
regared as ceremonially unclean, on account of his continual contact with
Gentiles, and his need to work on the sabbath. This uncleanness, and the
rabbis' teaching that their pupils should not eat with such persons, account
for the attitude evidenced by the expressions "tax collectors and

More information about the B-Greek mailing list