Half-shekel coin from revolt against Romans 2 millennia ago uncovered in desert cave | The Times of Israel

Pastor John MacArthur


While on the search for more Dead Sea Scrolls, inspectors surveying Israel’s desert caves recently discovered a rare half-shekel coin from 66 or 67 CE, the first year of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans. The currency was part of an underground Jewish economy during the rebellion’s four years, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

The coin was engraved with the words “Holy Jerusalem,” using ancient Hebrew script rather than the vernacular Greek of the time, in a defiant nod to their Jewish identity and the decision to mint the coins autonomously, explained Yaniv David Levy, a numismatic scholar with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“For almost 200 years, people made the pilgrimage by foot and used silver coins for paying a tax called the ‘half-shekel tax,’” said Levy. “And apparently these coins were used for tax in the Temple and also the internal economy during the revolt.”

The decision to autonomously mint coins during the rebellion was a political statement and an expression of national identity, the IAA said. At the time, the authority to mint coins was held only by the Roman emperor, and almost always featured the image of the ruling emperor and animals.

The coins minted by the Jewish rebels bear a depiction of three pomegranates. The other side of the coin features a chalice, similar to what could have been used by the priests in the Holy Temple, the words “half-shekel,” and the letter aleph, denoting the first year of the revolt against the Romans.

“Apparently there was a rebel who roamed the desert cliffs, and he dropped the precious shekel treasure, and luckily we were able to find it 2,000 years later and bring it back to the public,” said Hagay Hamer, an archaeologist with the IAA’s Judean Desert Survey. “There are people who preserve the custom [of paying a half-shekel of taxes to the Temple] until this day and fulfill it as a mitzvah,” or commandment.

IAA inspectors discovered the coin in the area around the Ein Gedi oasis during an intensive survey of all of Israel’s caves in the Judean desert, in an attempt to discover and document archaeological finds before they are stolen by looters — especially additional Dead Sea Scrolls. Inspectors have spent the past six years canvassing the caves, both by foot and by rappelling down steep cliffs to reach caves tucked into the mountainside. The survey is a joint initiative from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Ministry of Heritage, and the Civil Administration Archaeology Unit in Judea and Samaria.

“Over the six years of the project, we have recorded over 800 caves, and have found thousands of significant finds,” said Amir Ganor, the director of the Judean Desert Survey and Excavation Project. “Were it not for the survey, the coin may have been found by antiquity looters and sold on the antiquity market for the highest price offered.”

Prior to the revolt and the decision to mint their own coins, early Jews paid the half-shekel tax using coins minted in Tyre, in Lebanon, using fine silver, Levy said. During the revolt, the Jews created shekel, half-shekel, and quarter-shekel coins from silver and bronze, inscribed with the year of the revolt.

Last year, archaeologists discovered other half-shekel coins from this period in Jerusalem and the West Bank. A Hebrew University excavation discovered one coin in the Ophel site in Jerusalem’s Old City, an area that has previously revealed a number of bronze coins from the later part of the revolt.

Archaeologists from Bar Ilan University discovered an additional half-shekel coin, dating from the second year of the revolt against the Romans, in the Khirbat Jib’it archaeological site, just south of the West Bank town of Duma.

The IAA announced the coin’s discovery just before Israel enters into the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’av, which begins Wednesday evening. The day of mourning, one of the most somber days on the Jewish calendar, commemorates, among other things, the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the internal strife and hatred within the Jewish community that contributed to that destruction, according to tradition.

“The find of the coin at these times is a reminder for us of what happened in the past, teaching us the importance of working toward unity,” said Eli Escusido, the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Luke 19:11-20 NKJV

The Parable of the Minas

11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten [e]minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’

15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’

20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief21 For I feared you, because you are [f]an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’

24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ ”

The Tribulation is commencing..

Please repent, carry your cross daily and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ’s Death on the Cross for payment for your sins.

#Yahweh #Yeshua #HolySpirit #LordAlmighty #SovereignLord #Nameaboveallnames #TheWay #TheTruth #TheLife #TheGate #Heaven #KingdomofHeaven #Saved #Glorified #Endtimes #LastDays #FeastofTrumpets #markofthebeast #verseoftheday #birthpains #Judgement #Christian #Christianity #hope #love #Jesus #Christ

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