Matthew 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
This encounter between the pupils of the Pharisees and those who agreed with the rule of Herod as an appointee of Rome, shows why a wise man never answers a lawyer's yes/no question with a yes or a no. Had the Messiah said yes: he would have confirmed the legitimacy of the rule of Rome (treason against the Torah - spiritual death). Had the Messiah said no: he would have confirmed to the Romans he refused to keep the covenant made by the Hasmodeans with Rome (aka treason against Rome - physical death). Instead Rabbi Yeshua laid hold of the argument and reminded the gathered Israelites what mattered to the heavenly father: the violation of economic instructions and of the first and second commandments.
Time for an economics lesson. The denarius coin permeated the Roman world. The empire controlled the world with two forms of warfare: the centurians and the coinage. [Later they developed a third weapon: the religion] Once Emperor Augustus ascended the throne he codified a standardized currency which featured his own portrait. By insuring that all tax payments utilized the standard roman coin, the emperor guaranteed the economic strength of the empire for centuries. Even long after the collapse of the Roman Empire the denarius stayed in circulation.
The Torah stipulates the creation of only one type of coin: silver shekel. Israel shall pay prices, for instance the redemption price for a first born son (Number 18:16), in the shekel weight of silver. The temple tax levied by the government in Jersusalem consisted of a 1/2 shekel weight of silver per man. The Temple did not accept Roman coins as payment; thus, many money changers came to the Temple to convert currencies to shekels of silver.
Now we learn a lesson in religious studies: In 12 AD Emporer Augustus made himself Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of Rome and head of the Collegium Pontificum, the highest priests in the land. On Aug 19 0014 AD the Emperor died and received the divine title of "son of god."
The coin carried the graven image of another god and trading in it showed the Israelites had chosen a new god: Caesar’s money. Use of the Roman coin in daily life meant Israel conceded to the economic rule of Rome. Consent to pay the tribute tax, meant the rulers of Israel agreed that the Emperor owned the land of Israel and deserves payment for allowing Israelis to live under his protection on the land called Palestine. Utilizing the coin, in front of two witnesses, would have brought a death sentence under Moses. The Israelite with a foreign coin taken in battle would have melted it into an acceptable form; thus, cleaning the coin in fire. However, in the Judea of Yeshua's day, no one under the occupation could legally melt Roman coins into another form. No surprise rabbi Yeshua, as the living Torah, called those who surrounded him hypocrites. They cared for the national politics of the moment and not the celestial politics of selecting a god other than YHWH.
Realizing the economic hold Rome had on Israel, we can see some statements from our Master in a new light. For instance:
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate(miseo) the one, and love(agape) the other; or else he will hold(antecho) to the one, and despise(kataphroneo) the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
In this situation, Yeshua uses two completely difference descriptions for dealing with each master. First he describes how YWHW deals with love as the agape showing Ishi of Israel. To hate him means Israel prefers a return to slavery in Miserim. On the flip side of that coin, we see Israel constantly transfixed by the political dealings of Rome. While learning the ever changing law code of Rome, the student will steadily forget the never changing law of YHWH.