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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Judean & Biblical Coins| ▸ |Biblical Coins| ▸ |Christmas||View Options:  |  |  |   

Christmas and the Three Kings

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" Matthew 2:1-8.

Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 4 and 6 B.C.

On this page we list coin that were struck at the time of Jesus' birth or which relate to his birth. Most biblical scholars now believe the "Magi" probably were wise-men, not actually kings. If they were kings, the kings on the coins below are among the most likely visitors.

Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV,| |9| |B.C.| |-| |40| |A.D.||drachm|
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 6 and 4 B.C.
SH51930. Silver drachm, Schmitt-Korte II 57, Meshorer Nabataean 65 var. (numeral date), Cohen dated 973 var. (same), VF, flat strike areas, weight 4.293 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 4 - 3 B.C.; obverse Nabataean legend, "Aretas, king of the Nabataeans, lover of his people", laureate and draped bust of Aretas IV right, with long hair; reverse Nabataean legend, "Huldu, queen of the Nabataeans, year six" (year spelled out), veiled bust of Huldu right, flanked by Nabataean O (ayin) right and H (heth) left across lower field; very rare with year six spelled out vice the Nabataean numeral; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Phraatakes V, 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Phraatakes| |V,| |2| |B.C.| |-| |4| |A.D.||drachm|
Struck at the time of Jesus' birth.
SH57274. Silver drachm, Shore 319 (this coin), Sellwood 56.13, SNG Cop -, aEF, toned, weight 3.845 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Mithradatkart mint, 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, pointed beard, three diadem ends, star in crescent before, Nike flying behind crowning him with wreath; reverse degraded legend, Archer enthroned right, bow in extended right hand, fire altar behind, Mithradatkart mint mark monogram (T/M/Θ) under throne; this is the plate coin in Fred B. Shore's Parthian Coins and History; SOLD


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Antioch, Syria

|Roman| |Syria|, |Augustus,| |16| |January| |27| |B.C.| |-| |19| |August| |14| |A.D.,| |Antioch,| |Syria||tetradrachm|
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Most biblical scholars believe Jesus was born between 6 and 4 B.C.
SL91533. Silver tetradrachm, McAlee 182; Prieur 52; RPC I 4153; BMC Galatia p. 167, 137; Cohen DCA 400, NGC F, strike 4/5, surface 2/5 (2490384-005), weight 13.664 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 4 - 3 B.C.; obverse KAIΣAPOΣ ΣE−BAΣTOY, laureate head right; reverse ETOYΣ HK NIKHΣ (year 28 Actian Era), Tyche of Antioch seated right on rocks, turreted, holding palm branch, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right below, his head turned facing, YΠA monogram and IB (12th consulship) over ANT (Antioch) monogram in the right field; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; NGC| Lookup; SOLD


Qataban, South Arabia, Unknown Ruler, Late 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

|Arabia|, |Qataban,| |South| |Arabia,| |Unknown| |Ruler,| |Late| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||hemidrachm|
The Qatabanian Kingdom seems to have come into existence around 500 B.C. and endured until around the beginning of the Christian Era. Timna, the capital of ancient Qataban, was near modern Hajar Kohlan in Yemen. It was an important hub in the incense route which supplied Arabian and Indian incense via camel caravan to ports on the Mediterranean Sea.
SH63568. Silver hemidrachm, Huth 367; HGC 10 -, VF, tight flan (as always for this type), weight 1.943 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, die axis 0o, Timna mint, late 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse bare head right with curly short hair, uncertain legend; reverse male head right with neatly trimmed short beard and hair rolled, uncertain legend above, royal Qatabanian monogram behind neck, control monograms below and before; very rare; SOLD


Kingdom of Persis, Vahshir, c. 50 - 1 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Persis|, |Kingdom| |of| |Persis,| |Vahshir,| |c.| |50| |-| |1| |B.C.||drachm|
SH06328. Silver drachm, Alram IP 579, EF, weight 3.79 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 270o, Persepolis (Fars Province, Iran) mint, c. 50 - 1 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left, closed crescent before; reverse king right of fire altar, Aramaic legend around; spots of hornsilver on obverse; SOLD


Kingdom of Persis, Ardashir II, c. 50 - 1 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Persis|, |Kingdom| |of| |Persis,| |Ardashir| |II,| |c.| |50| |-| |1| |B.C.||drachm|
SH06331. Silver drachm, Alram IP 570/573, EF, weight 3.89 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 90o, Persepolis (Fars Province, Iran) mint, c. 50 - 1 B.C.; obverse crowned king right, dot within crescent and other symbols behind; reverse king right of fire altar holding scepter, Aramaic legend around; SOLD


Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria, 5 - 4 B.C., Legate P. Quinctilius Varus

|Roman| |Syria|, |Antioch,| |Seleucis| |and| |Pieria,| |Syria,| |5| |-| |4| |B.C.,| |Legate| |P.| |Quinctilius| |Varus||trichalkon|
Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman general and politician under Augustus. From 7 or 6 B.C. until 4 B.C. he governed Syria where he was known for harsh rule and high taxes. Josephus mentions the swift action of Varus in 4 B.C., against a revolt in Judaea following the death of Herod the Great. Varus occupied Jerusalem and crucified 2000 rebels. Varus is most infamous for losing three Roman legions in an ambush by Germanic tribes led by Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, at which point he took his own life. Upon hearing the news, Augustus tore his clothes, refused to cut his hair for months and, for years afterward, was heard, upon occasion, to moan, "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my Legions!" (Quintili Vare, legiones redde!).
RY94450. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 87; Butcher 50c; RPC I 4252; SNG Cop 92; SNG Munchen 640; BMC Galatia p. 159, 59; Cohen DCA 402 (S), VF/F, dark green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, porous, scratches, slightly off center, weight 8.671 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, legate P. Quinctilius Varus, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ANTIOXEΩ EΠI OVAPOV, Tyche of Antioch seated right on rocks, turreted, wearing chiton and peplos, palm frond in her right hand, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right below, his head turned facing, ZK (Actian Era year 27) in the right field; scarce; SOLD


Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria, 55 - 56 A.D.

|Roman| |Syria|, |Antioch,| |Seleukis| |and| |Pieria,| |Syria,| |55| |-| |56| |A.D.||trichalkon|
Michael Molnar, an astronomer, believes this coin depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C., the most probable "Star of Bethlehem." We think it is unlikely; nevertheless, the type is very popular and somewhat expensive.
GB92017. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 100 (rare); RPC I 4286 (6 spec.); SNG Cop 99; BMC Galatia p. 160, 69 var. (star within crescent), VF, black patina with orange earthen highlights, scratches, weight 5.190 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, reign of Nero, legate series, 55 - 56 A.D.; obverse ANTIOXEΩN, veiled and turreted head of Tyche right; reverse EΠI KOYA∆PATOY, ram leaping right, looking back, star above (no crescent), ET ∆P (year 104 of the Caesarean Era) below; ex CNG e-auction 234 (9 Jun 2010), lot 162 (realized $250 plus fees); this type is nicknamed "The Star of Bethlehem Coin"; rare; SOLD


Kingdom of Persis, Vahshir, c. 50 - 1 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Persis|, |Kingdom| |of| |Persis,| |Vahshir,| |c.| |50| |-| |1| |B.C.||drachm|
SH06329. Silver drachm, Alram IP 582/85, Choice EF, weight 3.83 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, Persepolis (Fars Province, Iran) mint, c. 50 - 1 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left; reverse King left of fire altar holding scepter, Aramaic legend around; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV,| |9| |B.C.| |-| |40| |A.D.||AE| |18|
Aramaic is read from right to left and vowels are unwritten. The letters of the reverse legend read, HRTT / SQY/LT. Aretas married Shuqailat, his second wife, in 16 A.D.
SH52149. Bronze AE 18, Meshorer Nabataean 114, SNG ANS 1438 ff., EF, weight 4.483 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 16 - 40 A.D.; obverse jugate, laureate and draped busts of Aretas IV and Shuqailat right, het (Aretas) left, shin (Shuqailat) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, Aramaic legend, "Aretas, Shuqailat" in two lines above and one below; SOLD




  




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