International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
chan'-jers (kollubistes, from kollubos, "a small coin," so "a money-changer," or "banker" (Matthew 21:12 Mark 11:15; "changers" in John 2:15; compare John 2:14, where kermatistes, "a dealer in small bits," or "change," is also rendered "changers"); compare trapezites, "one who sits at a table," "a money-changer," "a banker" or "broker"; one who both exchanges money for a small fee and pays interest on deposits (Matthew 25:27, the King James Version "exchangers," the American Standard Revised Version "bankers")): The profession of money-changer in Palestine was made necessary by the law requiring every male Israelite who had reached the age of 20 years to pay into the treasury of the sanctuary a half-shekel at every numbering of the people, an offering to Yahweh, not even the poor being exempt. It seems to have become an annual tax, and was to be paid in the regular Jewish half-shekel (Exodus 30:11-15). Since the Jews, coming up to the feasts, would need to exchange the various coins in common circulation for this Jewish piece, there were money-changers who exacted a premium for the exchange. This fee was a kollubos (about 31 cents in U.S. money, i.e. in 1915), hence, the name kollubistes. The Jews of Christ's day came from many parts of the world, and the business of exchanging foreign coins for various purposes became a lucrative one, the exchangers exacting whatever fee they might. Because of their greed and impiety, Jesus drove them from the courts of the temple.