Matthew Levi #1

I cannot imagine feeling as well as I do. I was in such pain today but walked a little and then set in a hardback chair Analy and Gladys bought for me. So I read and studied for nearly 2 hours while Tony did the banking and then Jose’ paid all of the university tuitions for May.


But what made me feel the best was Sindy returned from the hospital and hugged me so tight that I thought I would bust. And then Karen who had a successful kidney transplant came today. And the 4 new children Sergio, 7, Michel 5, Lucero 3 and Victoria 11 months also arrived. So all of this has made me feel so much better.


The Roman taxation system for over 2 centuries had actually been only about 1% to 3% of income and wealth. Don’t you wish that were the case today? But things were changing in the provinces Rome controlled. Tax Farmers were hired to collect taxes. These were known as Publicani. A man would gain the right to collect taxes for Rome by bidding at an auction. These folk were normally wealthy non-Romans who did not care that they would be hated by their country men. They would gather as much tax as they could and give to Rome ahas was necessary and keep what they could take from others.  They actually paid Rome in advance and then cheated, stole and lied to gather more than they were legally entitled to.

The Publicani would then hire others to do the dirty work. Matthew Levi was one as was Zacchaeus. There was a pecking order and Zacchaeus was actually above Matthew in rank. Matthew was on the bottom of the food chain. But one thing was certain the tax collector was the most hated person in the kingdom. If he was Jew he was seen as a traitor of his people. But when Agustus came to power everything changed (just as it has with politicians today) and he cut out the Publicani and ordered direct taxation. It was as high as 10% for grain, 5% for wine and fruit plus a poll tax up to the age of 65 on all males over 14 years of age and all females over 12.

There were also customs duties to be paid when you crossed a bridge, walked on a certain road, docked your ship, etc. It was more difficult for those like Zacchaeus and Matthew to make large profits but they stayed at their jobs under Agustus and made a good living although despised by their countrymen.  When Agustus died and Tiberius at the time of Jesus everything even got worst. What is truly amazing about Matthew is that we have not one word spoken by him recorded in the Bible.  His family name was Levi. He worked in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. There was a caravan route there which was heavily traveled so it was an ideal location for making much money.  It would be an absolute truth that the other apostles knew Matthew as that was where they worked and paid their taxes.

Matthew had authority over a garrison of soldiers who would chase those who failed to pay their taxes and bring them to Matthew who would then enforce the law heavily upon them. Any traveler could be stopped and his baggage emptied and Matthew decided the tax. Matthew would have been SHUT OUT of both society and the Jewish religion. Can you imagine the shock when the other disciples heard of the call of Matthew by Jesus?