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Coin Exhibition at the Davidson Center in Jerusalem
Expressions of Government on Jewish Coinage
Since their inception coins have universally borne symbols, identifying the despot, dynast, elected official or appointed body. Different designs have been employed to express their claim to rule, the most common one being the ruler's portrait.
Coins intended for Jewish populations were generally different in that the second commandment forbade the use of graven images. Consequently, on many Jewish coins a variety of other symbols that represented the minting authority were used. These symbols, which include wreaths, diadems, royal canopies, helmets and scepters, appear on gentile coins, but rarely as central types. On other coins inscriptions naming the ruler take the place of those symbols. Inscriptions on Jewish coins, in ancient Hebrew script, are disproportionate in quantity and length.
On yet other coins-those minted by Jews but intended for gentile populations-we do find portraits of the Jewish kings and their children. One coin, which was intended for a Jewish population, does bear a human portrait


Portraits of Jewish Rulers:
1. Showcases from the Coin Exhibition at the Residence of the President of the State of Israel
2. Silver coin from the Persian Period (375-333 BCE), depicting a male facing head. Reverse inscription: Yehezqiyah the Satrap.
3. Bronze coin of Philip, son of Herod the Great, minted in Caesarea Philippi (Paneas), 30-34 CE.
Wreaths and Diadems:
4. Wreath encircling a legend of Yehohanan the High Priest. Hasmonean bronze prutah of John Hyrcanus I (129-104 BCE), minted in Jerusalem.
5. Royal diadem encircling a star; between the rays the inscription: Yehonatan the King. Hasmonean bronze prutah of Alexander Jannaeus, minted in Jerusalem, dated to 104-80 BCE.
6. Royal diadem encircling the symbol X. Bronze coin of Herod I, from Jerusalem, dated to 37-4 BCE.
7. Wreath encircling palm branch. Bronze coin from the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, dated to 133/134 CE.

Assorted symbols of government:
8. Lily flower. Silver coin from the Persian Period (Yehud, 375-333 BCE).
9. Helmet flanked by two palm branches. Bronze coin of king Herod the Great, dated to 37 BCE.
10. Royal canopy. Bronze prutah of king Agrippa I, from Jerusalem, dated to 41/42 CE.
11. Stem with three pomegranates (head of scepter of the High Priest?). Silver sheqel of the Jewish War, dated to 68 CE.

Titles of Authority on Jewish Coins:
12. Yehohanan the High Priest Head of the Council of the Jews within wreath. Hasmonean bronze prutah of John Hyrcanus I (129-104 BCE), minted in Jerusalem.
13. Yehonatan the King surrounding a lily flower. Hasmonean bronze prutah of king Alexander Jannaeus, minted in Jerusalem, dated to 104-76 BCE.
14. (of King Antigonus) surrounding an ivy-wreath. Bronze coin of king Mattathias Antigonus, minted in Jerusalem, 40-37 BCE.
15. Shimon Prince of Israel within laurel-wreath. Bronze coin from the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, dated to 132/133 CE.

A Burning Testimony
"And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward."(Josephus Flavius, Wars 5:2).

Two deposits of bronze coins from the Jewish War were discovered in 1975 during archaeological excavations at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, under the direction of Prof. Benjamin Mazar.
The coins were found in a commercial street from the Herodian period. Both deposits consist mostly of coins struck by the rebels during the fourth year of the revolt, 69 CE. The revolt that lasted more than four years, ended in 70 CE when the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were completely destroyed by conflagration.
The coins are significant due to their symbols, which are related to the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot-a pilgrimage festival. The inscription for the redemption of Zion expresses the hope for divine salvation at a stage when the war deteriorated rapidly toward its end. The coins are badly preserved. Most of them show evidence of severe burning: some are completely carbonized, while others show signs of "bubbling" within the bronze. A few coins survived by only small fragments. The state of preservation of the coins is a graphic testimony to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Together with the coin deposits, an extremely rare sheqel of the fifth year of the revolt is exhibited here. This coin was struck by the rebels during the last months of the war, in 70 CE.


16. Bronze prutah of Agrippa I, minted in Jerusalem, dated to 41/42 CE. In obverse, a royal canopy; in reverse, three ears of grain.
17. Bronze prutah of the Roman Procurator Antonius Felix, minted in Jerusalem, dated to 54 CE. In obverse, two crossed palm branches; in reverse, inscription within wreath.
18. Bronze prutah of the Jewish War, minted in Jerusalem, dated 'year two' = 67 CE. In obverse, amphora; in reverse, vine leaf.
19. Bronze coin of the Jewish War, minted in Jerusalem, dated 'year four' = 69 CE. In obverse, ethrog; in reverse, two bundles of lulav, willow and myrtle.
20. Bronze coin of the Jewish War, minted in Jerusalem, dated 'year four' = 69 CE. In obverse, chalice; in reverse, a bundle of lulav, willow and myrtle between two ethrogs.
21. Silver sheqel of the Jewish War, minted in Jerusalem, dated 'year five' = 70 CE. In obverse, chalice; in reverse, stem with three pomegranates (scepter of the High Priest?).


Exhibition Curators: Gabriela Bijovsky and Donald T. Ariel, Israel Antiquities Authority



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Showcases from the Coin Exhibition at the Residence of the President of the State of Israel












































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