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Herod the Great, 37 - 4 B.C.

A Roman citizen, Herod took the throne of Judaea with Roman assistance. "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him." (Matthew 2:13 RSV)

Click for a larger photo The eight prutot was Herod's largest denomination.
JD64052. Copper eight prutot, Hendin 1169, Meshorer TJC 44, Meshorer AJC II 1, RPC I 4901, F, weight 7.360 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Samaria mint, 40 B.C.; obverse military helmet facing, with cheek pieces and straps, wreathed with acanthus leaves, star above, flanked by two palm-branches; reverse HPΩ∆OY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (of King Herod), tripod, ceremonial bowl (lebes) above, LΓ - P (year 3 of the tetrarchy) across fields; $225.00 (195.75)

Click for a larger photo Herod was granted the title of "King of Judea" by the Roman Senate, as such he was a vassal of the Roman Empire, expected to support the interests of his Roman patrons. Not long after he assumed control of Judea, after he had supported Augustus opponent Mark Antony, Herod needed to show his worthiness as king of Judea to the new emperor, Augustus (Octavian). Herod was able to win the support of Augustus and continue to rule his people as he saw fit. Despite the freedom afforded to Herod in his reign over Judea, restrictions were placed upon him in his dealings with other kingdoms.
SH72632. Bronze 2 prutot, Meshorer TJC 46, Hendin 1171, VF/F, weight 3.014 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Samaria mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse HPΩ∆OY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, winged caduceus, date LΓ on left and monogram P on right; reverse poppy pod on stem with leaves, fillet left and right; rare; $125.00 (108.75)

Click for a larger photo This coin was struck to commemorate the founding of the harbor at Caesarea Maritima, built by Herod and providing his kingdom's first major port." -- Guide to Biblical Coins by David Hendin
JD72880. Bronze lepton, Hendin 1191; Meshorer AJC II 238, 22, VF, weight 0.707 g, maximum diameter 12.6 mm, die axis 270o, Jerusalem mint, obverse HPΩ∆OY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, anchor; reverse war galley, border of dots; rare; $125.00 (108.75)

Click for a larger photo Matthew (2:1-23) describes the Massacre of the Innocents. Wise men from the East visited Herod to inquire the whereabouts of "the one having been born king of the Jews," because they had seen his star. Herod, as King of the Jews, was alarmed. The chief priests, citing Micah 5:2, told Herod the anointed one would be born in Bethlehem. Herod sent the "wise men" to Bethlehem, instructing them to "report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." However, the Magi were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod. Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod intended to kill Jesus, so he and his family fled to Egypt. When Herod realized he had been outwitted, he gave orders to kill all boys of the age of two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt until Herod's death, then moved to Nazareth. Herod was guilty of many brutal acts, including killing his wife and two sons, but no other source from the period refers to the massacre. Bethlehem was a small village, the number of male children under the age of two might not have exceed 20, and this may be the reason for the lack of other sources for this history.
JD72631. Bronze prutah, Hendin 1174, F, weight 1.214 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 90o, obverse HPΩ∆OY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, blundered legend with missing and retrograde letters within concentric circles; reverse anchor within circle decorated with stylized lily flowers; $80.00 (69.60)

Click for a larger photo Some of Herod's achievements include the development of water supplies for Jerusalem, building fortresses such as Masada and Herodium, and founding new cities such as Caesarea Maritima and the enclosures of Cave of the Patriarchs and Mamre in Hebron. He and Cleopatra owned a monopoly over the extraction of asphalt from the Dead Sea, which was used in shipbuilding. He leased copper mines on Cyprus from the Roman emperor.
SH72634. Bronze prutah, Meshorer TJC 47, Hendin 1172, HGC 10 655, Cohen DCA 807, F, weight 1.868 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, Samaria mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse HPΩ∆OY − BAΣIΛEΩ−Σ (of King Herod), aphlaston, LΓ left, P right (date and monogram); reverse palm frond, uncertain objects (leaves?) on both sides; very rare; $75.00 (65.25)

Click for a larger photo Josephus wrote that Herod's final illness (sometimes called "Herod's Evil") was excruciating. Based on Josephus' descriptions, one medical expert has diagnosed Herod's cause of death as chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier's gangrene. Similar symptoms attended the death of his grandson Agrippa I in 44 A.D. Modern scholars agree he suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia. Josephus stated that Herod was so concerned that no one would mourn his death, that he commanded a large group of distinguished men to come to Jericho, and he gave an order that they should be killed at the time of his death so that the displays of grief that he craved would take place. Fortunately for them, Herod's son Archelaus and sister Salome did not carry out this wish.
JD71259. Bronze lepton, Hendin 1174, aF, weight 0.956 g, maximum diameter 13.0 mm, die axis 45o, obverse HPΩ∆OY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, blundered legend with missing and retrograde letters within concentric circles; reverse anchor within circle decorated with stylized lily flowers; $60.00 (52.20)

Click for a larger photo Herod's most famous and ambitious project was his magnificent expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 20 - 19 B.C. Although work on out-buildings continued another eighty years, the new Temple was finished in a year and a half. To comply with religious law, Herod employed 1,000 priests as masons and carpenters. The temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Today, only the four retaining walls of the Temple Mount remain standing, including the Western Wall.
JD72633. Bronze prutah, Hendin 1188, Meshorer TJC 59, F, off center, weight 1.646 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 270o, Jerusalem mint, obverse HPΩ BACIΛ, anchor; reverse double cornucopia with caduceus between horns, pellets above; $60.00 (52.20)

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Acanthus leaves A common plant of the Mediterranean, whose stylized leaves form the characteristic decoration on Corinthian and Composite capitals. The acanthus leaves may have symbolized the arts or steadfastness, or perhaps they were just decorative.

The Anchor: The anchor was adopted from the Selukids, who used it to symbolize their naval strength. Anchors are depicted upside down, as they would be seen hung on the side of a boat ready for use.

The Caduceus: The caduceus is the wing-topped staff, with two snakes winding about it, carried by Hermes. According to one myth it was given to him by Apollo. The caduceus was carried by Greek heralds and ambassadors and became a Roman symbol for truce, neutrality, and noncombatant status. Herod was a friend to Rome and the caduceus was an appropriate symbol in that regard.

The Cornucopia: The cornucopia was a hollow animal horn used as a container. One of the most popular religious symbols of the ancient world, the cornucopia is also know as the "horn of plenty."

The Cross: The cross found on coins of Herod the Great is actually the letter "chi," which symbolized the power of the High Priest. Since Herod was not the High Priest, his use of this symbol was probably intended to reinforce his control of the Temple through "his" High Priest.

The Diadem: The diadem symbolized royalty.

The Grape and Grape Vine: Grapes, the vine and wine were an important part of the ancient economy and ritual. Grapes were brought to the Temple as offerings of the first-fruits and wine was offered upon the altar. The vine and grapes decorated the sacred vessels in the sanctuary and a golden vine with clusters of grapes stood at its entrance.

The Pomegranate: The pomegranate was one of the seven celebrated products of Palestine and among the fruits brought to the temple as offerings of the first-fruits. Two hundred pomegranates decorated each of the two columns in the temple and were an integral part of the sacred vestment of the High Priest, as bells and pomegranates were suspended from his mantle.

The Star: The star symbolize heaven.

Catalog current as of Monday, March 02, 2015.
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Herod the Great