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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Judean & Biblical Coins ▸ Biblical Coins ▸ The Three KingsView Options:  |  |  |     

The Three Kings

The coins below are those of kings that ruled in the east at the time of Jesus' birth and are among the most likely to have visited baby Jesus.

"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.

Most biblical scholars now believe the "Magi" probably were wisemen, not actually kings. If they were kings, the kings below are among the most likely visitors.

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

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GS01376. Silver obol, Alram IP 584, EF, weight 0.60 g, maximum diameter 10.9 mm, die axis 135o, Persepolis mint, 50 - 1 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left; reverse king left of fire altar holding scepter, Aramaic legend around; nicely toned; SOLD

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

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Aretas' daughter was married to Herod Antipas, Herod the Great's son, and the Tetrarch of Galilee. This coin resembles a coin minted by King Herod and the reverse probably depicts the golden bird Herod placed above the entrance to the Jerusalem Temple. But the political alliance and family ties celebrated by this coin were broken when Antipas left Aretas' daughter to marry Herodias. In response to this breach and personal insult, Aretas attacked and defeated Antipas' army in Galilee and brought his daughter home to Petra. It was Herodias' daughter, Salome, who requested John the Baptist's head on a platter.
GB06569. Bronze AE 11, Meshorer Nabataean 91 var, SNG ANS 1434 var, VF, weight 1.12 g, maximum diameter 11.4 mm, die axis 180o, Petra mint, 5 - 6 A.D.; obverse Aramaic monogram O / H (ayin / het) within wreath; reverse eagle standing left, wings closed, Aramaic heth behind; SOLD

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

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SH01424. Silver hemidrachm, Alram IP 571/74, aEF, weight 1.97 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 270o, Persepolis mint, c. 50 - 1 B.C.; obverse crowned bust left; reverse king right of fire altar, star above monogram, Aramaic legend around; overstruck on similar type with smaller dies, scyphate flan; SOLD

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

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Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Most biblical scholars believe Jesus was born between 6 and 4 B.C.
RY90565. Bronze AE 27, McAlee 206(b); Wruck 11; RPC I 4247; SNG Cop 139; BMC Galatia p. 166, 129, VF, weight 16.961 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse IMPēAVGVSTēTRēPOT (from upper right), laureate head head right; reverse S C within laurel wreath with eight bunches of leaves between inner and outer linear borders; SOLD

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

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Aretas IV was the greatest of the Nabataean kings, ruling S. Palestine, most of Trans-Jordan, N. Arabia, and Damascus. Little is known of him because Nabataeans did not keep records. Paul mentions Aretas in connection with his visit to Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32).
GS51932. Silver drachm, Cohen 975; cf. Meshorer Nabataean 99 ff., BMC Arabia 11, SGICV 5695 (references list various dates), gF, weight 4.528 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, c. 18 - 40 A.D.; obverse Aramaic legend, "Aretas, king of Nabataea, lover of his people", laureate and draped bust of Aretas right; reverse Aramaic legend, "Shuqailat, queen of Nabataea, year [?]", jugate busts of Aretas and Shuqailat right; SOLD

Indo-Scythian Kingdom, Azes II, c. 35 - 5 B.C.

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Azes II may have been the last Indo-Scythian king in the northern Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan). Indo-Scythian rule crumbled under the conquests of the Kushans who expanded into India to create the Kushan Empire. R.C. Senior believes Azes II did not exist and attributes all Azes coins to Azes I.
WA57599. Silver tetradrachm, Senior 98.329T; Mitchiner IGIS 6, 8489i; FrŲhlich 274; Mitchiner ACW 2368 var (obv control letter), gVF, weight 8.974 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 45o, obverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY AZOY, king on horseback riding right, holding whip, Kharosthi letter ti (control letter) before horse; reverse Kharosthi legend: Maharajasa rajadirajasa mahatasa Ayasa, Pallas standing right, raising right hand, spear over left shoulder and shield on left arm, monograms in left and right fields, Kharosthi letter va upper right; SOLD

Roman Syria, Silanus, Legatus Augusti pro praetore, 12 - 14 A.D., The "Star of Bethlehem Coin"

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Michael Molnar, an astronomer, believes this coin depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C., the most probable "Star of Bethlehem."

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Michael Molnar's website on the star of Bethlehem theory.
RY13646. Bronze AE 20, RPC I 4269; BMC Galatia p. 159, 65, weight 7.50 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 13 - 14 A.D.; obverse Zeus' laureate head right; reverse EΠI ΣIΛANOY ANTIOXEΩN, ram running right, looking back, star above, ∆M (year 44) below; SOLD

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

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Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Most biblical scholars believe Jesus was born between 6 and 4 B.C.
RP33471. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 4251; BMC Galatia p. 167, 133, aVF, attractive patina, weight 7.512 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse KAIΣAPI ΣEBAΣTΩ APXIEPEI, laureate head right; reverse APXIE / PATIKON / ANTIO/XEIΣ / ZK (year 27), in wreath; SOLD

Laodikeia, Syria, 5 - 4 B.C.

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Christ birth year coin? Many biblical scholars believe Jesus was actually born in 4 B.C. or perhaps even a year or two earlier.
RP25108. Bronze AE 21, RPC I 4392, SGCV I 5879, Lindgren 2063 (this coin), F, near black patina, weight 6.958 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 0o, Laodikeia mint, year 44, 5 - 4 BC; obverse veiled and turreted head of Tyche right, oval countermark (head right); reverse IOYΛIEΩN / TΩN KAI behind, ΛAO∆IKEΩN and date ∆M before, Tyche standing left, rudder in left, cornucopia in right; ex Lindgren and Phil DeVicchi collections; SOLD

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

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Aramaic is read from right to left and vowels are unwritten. The letters of the reverse legend read, HRTT / SQY/LT. Shuqailat was Aretas' second wife. They were married in 16 A.D.
GB47567. Bronze AE 18, Meshorer Nabataean 113, SNG ANS -, Huth -, gF, weight 4.190 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 16 - 40 A.D.; obverse jugate laureate and draped busts of Aretas IV and Shuqailat right; Nabataean shin-lamedh-mem ligature (one) indicating denomination above, Aramaic initials heth (Aretas) left and shin (Shuqailat) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, Aramaic legend, "Aretas, Shuqailat" in two lines above and one below; scarcer variety with the denomination above the busts on the obverse; SOLD


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Catalog current as of Friday, November 27, 2015.
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Three Kings Biblical Coins