He gets in line with the other young men, most of them his friends; all of them he knows. On the outside, it seems like a simple initiation ceremony – one that marks their ‘coming of age’ and becoming a true citizen. And all they have to do is get in line, be marked down in the census, and pay the fee. Simple, and boring. But at least it’s a test everyone can pass as long as they’re the right age and have the money.
It’s not even a lot of money, but it’s almost like he’s having to pay to continue the rest of his life with the same community. A half shekel for his life.
To the rich, it’s not enough. To the poor, it may be too much, and even though he’d never be able to equate a life to any amount of money, he thinks that this ceremony; this event of taking a census is one of the ways where people become equals again, and the amount of money needed for the fee is more of a symbol; a representation of worth and value.
It reminds him that each one of their lives is worth something; costs something to redeem (because everything that’s considered beautiful is never free) or give away.
The line is ever inching forwards, and he’s not feeling so bored anymore.