Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why tempt you me? bring me a penny…
The silver penny was a coin a little larger than a sixpence, but probably equal to 4s. or 5s. in purchasing power. In this coin the poll tax — so much for each man — was paid. Until very lately the Jews had had a Hebrew coinage, on which no head was permitted (in deference to the second commandment), but which carried the names of their ruler and their high priest. Even now the Herods issued money of their own coinage. But since Judaea had been reduced to a province, the Roman penny had been introduced, and was the coin legally demanded for payment of taxes. Its use proclaimed who was master, as the head of Victoria on an Indian rupee proclaims her ruler of India. Indeed, already it had become a maxim that he is ruler whose coin is current in a land. It was not, therefore, an unsettled question whether they would have the Romans for their rulers or not; but they being rulers — and any government being better than anarchy — were they at liberty to withhold the amount needed for its fair support?
Parallel VersesKJV: Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.