“taxing” in the King James Bible

The King James Bible states…

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. Luke 2:1-3 KJV

Compare this translation with more modern translations such as the New American Standard Bible

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all the people were on their way to register for the census, each to his own city. —Luke 2:1-3 NASB

What the King James Bible refers to as a taxing is simply a census of the people, or an enrollment of them with a view to their taxation.

The decree for the enrollment was the occasion of Joseph and Mary’s going up to Bethlehem.

It has been argued by some that Cyrenius was governor of Cilicia and Syria both at the time of our Lord’s birth and some years afterwards.

This decree for the taxing referred to the whole Roman world, and not to Judea alone.

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