Generally, money or other valuable consideration, such as livestock, paid by a state or a ruler to a foreign power in acknowledgment of submission, to maintain peace, or to gain protection. (For a consideration of the original-language words, see TAXATION.) Nations exacting tribute from other peoples frequently received gold and silver or products that were in short supply in their own land. In this way they strengthened their economic position while keeping the subjugated nations weak by drawing heavily on their resources.
Judean Kings David (2Sa 8:2, 6), Solomon (Ps 72:10; compare 1Ki 4:21; 10:23-25), Jehoshaphat (2Ch 17:10, 11), and Uzziah (2Ch 26:8), as well as Israelite King Ahab (2Ki 3:4, 5), received tribute from other peoples. However, on account of unfaithfulness, the Israelites were often in an inferior position and were forced to pay tribute to others. As early as the time of the Judges, while under the domination of Moabite King Eglon, they paid tribute. (Jg 3:12-17) In later years, both the kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel paid tribute upon coming under the control of foreign powers. (2Ki 17:3; 23:35) At various times they paid what amounted to a form of tribute when buying off enemy nations or bribing others for military assistance.—2Ki 12:18; 15:19, 20; 18:13-16.