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Home>Catalog>Judean&BiblicalCoins>BiblicalCoins>TheTempleTaxCoin

Temple Tax Coins - 1/2 Shekel and Shekel of Tyre

At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied on Jews was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were not always used in everyday commerce, but were the only coins accepted by the temple. Many taxpayers required a currency exchange, so money changers set up in the Temple court. Jesus found this business and their shouting (advertising rates) offensive, so he threw over their tables. "...go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." -- Matthew 17:27. Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Silver shekels and half-shekels of Tyre were minted from c. 126 B.C. until c. 57 A.D. Any coin minted prior to 32 A.D. may have circulated in Jerusalem during Jesus' lifetime.


The Temple Tax Coin, Tyre KP Type Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 41 - 42 A.D.
Click for a larger photo Full Shekel - Tax for Two. At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were the only coins accepted by the temple. Some experts believe that after the coinage of Tyre was debased under Roman control, Herod the Great began to strike "Tyre" shekels in Jerusalem. These coins were of cruder fabric and style, but maintained the silver purity required to pay the temple tax. The "Jerusalem" shekels have the letters KP or KAP to the right of the eagle and dates range from PH (18/17 B.C.) to PKE (69/70 A.D.). The Greek letters KP or KAP are probably an abbreviation for KAICAP, Greek for Caesar.
SH72610. Silver shekel, Cohen DCA 920 (year 167, R3), DCA Supplement 397 var (alef between legs), RPC I -, Prieur -, BMC Phoenicia -, VF, toned, light weight, marks, punch on reverse, weight 11.175 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 41 - 42 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right; reverse eagle standing left, club before, PΞZ (year 167) before, transverse palm branch on far side, KP over Φ behind, Phoenician letter bet between legs; very rare date; $600.00 (€450.00)

The Temple Tax Coin, Tyre KP Type Half Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 33 - 34 A.D.
Click for a larger photo POSSIBLE CRUCIFIXION YEAR COIN.

The Bible does not tell the date of the Crucifixion, but based on Biblical clues, the Jewish calendar and astronomical evidence many scholars believe it was Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.

John the Baptist began his ministry in 28 or 29 A.D. and the Gospel of John points to three separate Passovers during Jesus' ministry. Jesus was executed on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judaea from 26 to 36 A.D. This limits the years to between 30 and 36 A.D.

John P. Meier's A Marginal Jew cites 7 April 30 A.D., 3 April 33 A.D., and 30 March 36 A.D. as astronomically possible Friday Nisan 14 dates during this period. Isaac Newton, using the crescent of the moon, determined the year was 34 A.D. but John Pratt argued that Newton made a minor computation error and 33 A.D. was the accurate answer using Newton's method. Using similar computations, in 1990 astronomer Bradley Schaefer arrived at Friday, April 3, 33 A.D. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach (consistent with Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20) based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model arrives at the same date, Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.

JD40425. Silver half shekel, RPC I 4693, Prieur 1463, BMC Phoenicia -; only one coin from this year in the hoard, aF, weight 6.249 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre or Jerusalem mint, 33 - 34 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, PNΘ (year 159) over club left, KP over BA? right, Aramaic aleph between legs; very rare year; SOLD

Jerusalem or Tyre, 64 - 65 A.D.
Click for a larger photo One of the last issues of the type and apparently unpublished!
SH26439. Silver half shekel, Prieur -, RPC I -, BMC Phoenicia -, cf. RPC I supplement 4680 (full shekel), VF, weight 6.474 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre or Jerusalem mint, 64 - 65 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, date (year 190) and club left, KP and HP monogram right, Aramaic beth between legs; extremely rare; SOLD


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REFERENCES

Baramki, D.C. The Coin Collection of the American University of Beirut Museum. (Beirut, 1974).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry and P.P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplement).
Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Hill, G.F. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum: Phoenicia. (London, 1910).
Hoover, O.D. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010).
Meir, C. "Tyrian Sheqels and Half Sheqels with Unpublished Dates from the ‘Isfiya Hoard in the Kadman Numismatic Pavilion" in INR 3 (2008).
Meshorer, Y. "One Hundred Ninety Years of Tyrian Shekels" in Studies Mildenberg.
Prieur, M. and K. Prieur. The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and their fractions from 57 BC to AD 258. (Lancaster, PA, 2000).
Rouvier, J. "Numismatique des Villes de la Phénicie" in Journal International d’Archéologie Numismatique, Tyre" in JIAN 6 (1903), pp. 269 - 332.
Sage, S.B. Biblical Numismatics: Thirty Pieces of Silver. (Jacksonville, FL, 2001).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 7: Cyprus to India. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).

Catalog current as of Sunday, December 21, 2014.
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Temple Tax Biblical Coins