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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Judean & Biblical Coins ▸ Biblical Coins ▸ The Temple Tax CoinView Options:  |  |  | 

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.


Tyre, Phoenicia, 108 - 107 B.C., The Temple Tax Coin

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Half Shekel - the currency of the Jerusalem Temple.
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.
JD79297. Silver shekel, Cohen DCA 921 (unreported date - no known specimens); HGC 10 358; Hendin 1619; BMC Phoenicia -; Baramki AUB -, F, toned, light corrosion, weight 6.011 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 108 - 107 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOYIEPAΣ KAIAΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, date ΘI (year 19) over club and palm frond left, ZB (control) right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; extremely rare date; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


The Temple Tax Coin, KP Tyrian Type Half Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 44 - 45 A.D.

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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.


JD79299. Silver half shekel, RPC I Supp. 4701A (1 spec.), Cohen DCA 921 (S), Hendin 1619, HGC 10 358, BMC Phoenicia -, Prieur -, RPC I -, Baramki AUB -, F, centered on a tight flan, toned, weight 6.358 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 44 - 45 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, PO (year 170) over club left, KP over monogram (control) right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; $550.00 (€489.50)
 


Tyre, Phoenicia, 54 - 55 B.C., The Temple Tax Coin

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Half Shekel - the currency of the Jerusalem Temple
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.
JD79300. Silver half shekel, Cohen DCA 921 (unreported date - no known specimens), HGC 10 358, Hendin 1619, RPC I -, Baramki AUB -, F, toned, slightly off center, shallow pitting, weight 6.719 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre, Phoenicia mint, 54 - 55 B.C.; 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, PΠ (year 180) over club left, AN (?, control) right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; extremely rare date; $550.00 (€489.50)
 


The Temple Tax Coin, KP Tyrian Type Half Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 18 B.C. - 69 A.D.

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The barbaric style with blundered legends and date are typical of the later coins attributed by some experts to Jerusalem.

After the coinage of Tyre was debased under Roman control, some experts believe 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.
JD79301. Silver half shekel, HGC 10 358; Cohen DCA 922; Hendin 1621; BMC Phoenicia p. 252, 235 ff.; RPC I 4681 ff.; Prieur 1455 ff., F, toned, bumps and marks, light corrosion, weight 6.336 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 18 B.C. - 69 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY, eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, uncertain date & club left, KP and monogram right, Aramaic letter between legs; $550.00 (€489.50)
 







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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 Friday, July 01, 2016.
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Temple Tax Biblical Coins