Foundations of Law I


Head Tax

Israel had a head tax.

The head tax was collected at the temple, but the temple was both the civil and the ecclesiastical center of Israel.

The throne of God was in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

The Sanhedrin met there for civil duties.

Thus, the head tax was for the protection of the civil government.

The head tax was imposed equally—the rich and the poor paid the same. Exodus 30:15.

The head tax was a fixed amount that was small enough for the poor to pay. The civil government cannot interfere with people's responsibilities to their families or the church.

The head tax supported the civil order, not the social order.


Israel had a 10% social tithe. Leviticus 27; Numbers 18.

Israel had a 3⅓% poor tithe. Deuteronomy 14; Deuteronomy 26.

These tithes only applied to income or increase. There was no tax on those who did not have profit that year.

All with income paid the tithes, investing themselves in the social order.

These tithes were mandatory, but the state did not control them. It was up to the individual to bring them.

The tithes supported the social order, not the civil order. This gave the people control over the social order.

King Saul imposed a tyrannical tax system. 1 Samuel 8.

The Bible is unclear on whether Israel's tax system is binding on all other nations. However, because the system was created by God, it cannot be unjust. Therefore, there are some principles about proper taxation that can be gleaned from Israel’s tax system.

Estate Tax

Prof. Martins believes estate taxes are probably not valid, as inheritance is a natural right that was presupposed in Israel.

God gave Israel the land as an inheritance. Joshua 1.

God gave the promised land to individual families. Joshua 14.

It was normal that children inherited from their parents. Numbers 27.

Property is given in the context of family in Genesis 1.

The civil magistrate in Israel was prohibited from taking the people’s inheritance. Ezekiel 46.

There was no estate tax in Israel.

The Bible gives jurisdiction to the family to care for the elderly, not to the federal government like with Medicare and Social Security.

Parents need to store up for their children. 2 Corinthians 12.

Children need to honor parents by caring for them in their older days. Mark 7.

Property Tax

Prof. Martins believes property taxes are probably not valid.

God owns all land. Psalm 24.

God alone has jurisdiction over the land.

There was no land tax in Israel.

God warned Israel that tyrants take the people's land. 1 Samuel 8.

Income Tax

Income taxes may or may not be valid.

Israel's tithes were income taxes, but were a fixed percentage and brought by the tither, not collected by the government.