6394. And he shall be a servant to tribute. That this signifies that he may have merit, is evident from the signification of "being a servant to tribute," as being to be subject and to serve; and as it is said of those who desire to have merit through works that they are "bony asses, lying down between burdens," and that "he bows the shoulder to bear," by "being a servant to tribute" are also signified those who desire to have merit through works; for that they are lowest services was shown above (n. 6389). That "serving to tribute" denotes to be subject and to serve, is evident in Moses:
When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, thou shalt invite them unto peace; and it shall be, if it answer thee for peace, and open to thee, it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall become for tribute to thee, and shall serve thee (Deut. 20:10, 11).
How hath the city dwelt solitary that was great in people! She is become as a widow. She that was great among the nations, who ruled in the provinces, she is become tributary (Lam. 1:1);
where it is plain that by "becoming for tribute," and by "tributary," is signified serving. In Matthew:
Jesus said, How seemeth it to thee, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth receive tribute or tax? of their own sons, or of strangers? Peter saith to Him, Of strangers. Jesus saith to him, Therefore the sons are free. But lest we should be a stumbling-block to them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened its mouth thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give it for Me and thee (Matt. 17:25-27);
here also by "giving tribute," or "tax," are meant those who serve, and therefore it is said that "strangers should give and sons should be free," for strangers were servants (see n. 1097). That Peter should take up a fish out of the sea and should find in its month a piece of money which he was to give, represented that the lowest natural, which serves, should do this; for "fishes" signify this natural.