Sunday, April 25, 2010

Give to G-d

Yeshua gave the best answers.
They [a group of Pharisees and Herodians] came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Yeshua knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denari and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Yeshua said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to G-d what is G-d’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
They were amazed at him. To those within earshot of the conversation the question had seemed imposible to answer. If Mashiach said publically that Israel need not pay taxes to Caesar he would have been arrested for rebellion against the empire, and on the other hand, he would never say that a Jew is obligated to pay the nations to reside in The Land.

The key to understanding the answer provided by Yeshua is in a parable he spoke just before this episode. In the mashal Israel is compared to a vineyard, HaShem its owner. In the story tenants are allowed to operate the vineyard, but when the owner of the vineyard sends his servants to collect what is owed him, the servants are mistreated, beaten, and killed. After his son is killed as well, the owner of the vineyard returns to bring retribution upon the wicked tenants and reclaim his land. Here Yeshua teaches that everything belongs to HaShem and the rulers of the world are merely temporary stewards of what is his.

To those employed by the government Yeshua seemed to give an acceptable answer. However, those righteous Jews who understood that everything belongs to G-d understood Yeshua’s faithfulness to the creator of all. As he often did, Mashiach answered an impossible question.
Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa would say: Give Him what is His, for you, and whatever is yours, are His. As David says: "For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You" (I Chronicles 29:14).

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