Publicans of the New Testament
were the provincial underlings of the Magister or master collector who resided at Rome. The taxes were farmed by a contractor called the Manceps; this Manceps divided his contract into different societies; each society had a Magister, under whom were a number of underlings called Publicani or servants of the state.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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