Tribute-money (διδραχμον), the Temple-tax levied upon all Jews (Mt 17:24), and likewise (κῆνσος) the money collected by the Romans in payment of the taxes imposed upon the Jews (Mt 22:19). The piece shown to our Savior at his own request (in the latter passage) was a Roman coin, bearing the image of one of the Caesars, and must have been at that time current in Judaea, and received in payment of the tribute, in common with other descriptions of money. There is no reason to suppose that the tribute was collected exclusively in Roman coins, or that the tribute-money was a description of coin different from that which was in general circulation. SEE PENNY.
As regards the half-shekel of silver paid to the Lord by every male of the children of Israel as a ransom for his soul (Ex 30:13,15), colonel Leake says "that it had nothing in common with the tribute paid by the Jews to the Roman emperor. The tribute was a denarius, in the English version a penny (Mt 22:17; Lu 20:24); the duty to the Temple was a didrachmon, two of which made a stater. It appears, then, that the half-shekel of ransom had in the time of our Savior been converted into the payment of a didrachmon to the Temple, and two of their didrachma formed a stater of the Jewish currency." He then suggests that the stater was evidently the extant "Shekel Israel," which was a tetradrachm of the Ptolemaic scale, though generally below the standard weight, like most of the extant specimens of the Ptolemies; and that the didrachmon paid to the Temple was therefore of the same monetary scale. "Thus," says he, "the duty to the Temple was converted from the half of an Attic to the whole of a Ptolemaic didrachmon, and the tax was nominally raised in the proportion of about 105 to 65; but probably the value of silver had fallen as much in the two preceding centuries. It was natural that the Jews should have revived the old name shekel, and applied it to their stater, and equally so that they should have adopted the scale of the neighboring opulent and powerful kingdom, the money of which they must have long been in the habit of employing" (Appendix, Numismata Hellenica, p. 2, 3). SEE DIDRACHM.