The temple tax

We read in Matthew 17 v 24 of Jesus' disciples being questioned about making payments. Different translations of the Bible use different words to describe the payment:

the didrachma - World English Bible

the two-drachma tax or the half shekel tax - English Standard Version

the temple tax - New King James Version

the two-drachma temple tax - New International Version

tribute money - King James Version

It is clear that Matthew is referring to a two drachma or half shekel tax which was for the temple.

The basis of this tax is the command in Exodus 30 v 12 and 13:

Exodus 30 verses 12 - 13

12 “When you take a census of the children of Israel, according to those who are counted amongst them, then each man shall give a ransom for his soul to the LORD, when you count them; that there be no plague amongst them when you count them. 13 They shall give this, everyone who passes over to those who are counted, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs); half a shekel for an offering to the LORD.

Everyone was to give half a shekel. A didrachma (two drachmas) is equivalent to a half shekel.

In Jesus' time the didrachma was used for the tax.

Later on in the chapter the coin that Peter caught is also described in different ways by different translations:

stater coin - World English Bible

shekel - English Standard Version

piece of money - New King James Version and King James Version

four-drachma coin - New International Version

All of these descriptions are correct. A stater coin is equivalent to a shekel, two didrachmas or four drachmas.