TAXES IN ANCIENT ROME ON THE JEWS By Andre Austin Suetonius covering the roman rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian wrote his book The Twelve Caesars. I’m particular interested in his biographies of Vespasian, Titus, Nero and Domitian. Some pecular issues about taxes relating to bible passages are mysterious. Suetonius writes on Domitian: “Domitian’s agents collected the tax on the Jews, (imposed by Vespasian after he destroyed their temple in 70AD), with a peculiar lack of mercy; and took proceedings not only against those who kept their Jewish origins a secret in order to avoid the tax, but against those who lived as Jews without professing Judaism” (Domitian 12). “Behold I will make them the synagogue of Satan , which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie. I will make them to come and worship before thy feet” (Rev 3:9). We also know the above rulers were fond of Jupiter in Rome or better known as Zeus in Greek and Amen in Egypt: “The Amen (Jupiter/Zeus) the faithful and true witness, the beginning of creation” (Rev 3:14). I digress on a tangent but back to the subject at hand. I’m confused by some of Flavius Josephus Bar Matthias statements in his Life. It appears that not all Jews were taxed by Domitian. Taxes were excluded from a city owned by Josephus tax free: “He (Domitian), also made that country (city/village) I had in Judea tax free, which is a mark (tattoo) of the greatest honor to him who hath it” (Life 76:429) compare “He set up an image in his honor…receive a mark” (tax exempt mark) Rev 13:14-16 According to Robin Lane Fox’s book The Unauthorized Version: “The number of the first beast (666) probably equates with the letters of the name of Nero, but the name might be symbolic…When he (John) emphasizes the mark of the beast on its worshipers forehead, he is echoing the practice of tattoing the hands and foreheads of pagan worshipers of particular gods…Exemptions from taxes did often benefit the crowds attending major pagan festivals” (p.349). So all of this hyperbole talk about the sinister 666/Nero was just a bunch of jive about taxes? Suetonius records vicious lampoons of poetry posted on the walls in Rome: “It was strange how amazingly tolerant Nero seemed to be of the insults that everyone cast at him, in the form of jokes and lampoons, here are a few example of verses: “Count the numerical values Of the letters in Nero’s name And in murdered his own mother You will find their sum is the same” (Nero 39) This whole language is similar to Rev 13:18 “Let him calculate the number of the beast, for its man’s number. His number is 666.”. The other poem reads “Though Nero may pluck the chords of a lyre, And the Parthian King the string of a bow He who chants to the lyre with heavenly fire Is Apollo as much as his far-darting foe (Nero 39) Here again in Rev 13:13 associates this same beast 666/Nero with bringing down fire. “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven”. Then in Rev 14 the writers distinguished Satan mark on forehead with God’s mark on the forehead singing a song not with a lyre but with harps even though the lyre is in the harp family. And water comes down instead of fire. Probably the “Living water”. I don’t see how anyone can deny that the writer of John was aware of those lampoon poems against Nero. Notes: Matthew 11:19 records “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous (greedy) and a winebibber, a friend of publicans (tax collectors) and sinners”. This fits the description of Titus who Jesus would predict would destroy the Temple before the generation (40 years) of Jews died. If Jesus said this between 30-33 then we are talking about the Temple destruction by Titus in 70AD. Titus was friends with the Alexanders who collected Taxes for Rome. His family members like Titus Flavius Petro took up tax –collecting. And had a statue that read ‘To an honest tax-gatherer” (Vespasian 1). Plus Suetonius records that Titus had a reputation for greed and through extravagant, riotous parties and took other people wives and even eunuchs and homosexuals. Does this not fit Matthew 11:19?