Capitation or Poll-tax
Capitation Or POLL-TAX,
among the Jews. Moses ordained (Ex 30:13) that every Israelite should pay half a shekel for his soul, or person, as a redemption, "that there might be no plague among the people, when they were numbered." Many interpreters are of opinion that this payment was designed to take place as often as the people were numbered; and that this payment of the half shekel per head being evaded when David numbered his subjects, God punished the neglect with a pestilence (2Sa 24:1). But it is more generally thought that Moses laid this tax on all the people, payable yearly, for the maintenance of the tabernacle, for the sacrifices, wood, oil, wine, flour, habits, and subsistence of the priests and Levites. In our Savior's time the tribute was punctually paid. SEE DIDRACHMA. The Israelites, when returned from Babylon, paid one third part of a shekel to the Temple, being disabled, probably, at that time, by poverty, from doing more (Ne 10:32). The rabbins observe that the Jews in general, and even the priests, except women, children under thirteen years of age, and slaves, were liable to pay the half shekel. The collectors demanded it in the beginning of Nisan, but used no compulsion till the Passover, when they either constrained its payment or took security for it. After the destruction of the Temple, the Jews were compelled to pay the half shekel to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. SEE ASSESSMENT.