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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.


Shekel of Tyre, KP Type, 34 - 35 A.D., Temple Tax for Two

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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.
SL86643. Silver shekel, RPC I 4670 (2 spec.); Prieur 1431 (2 spec.); Cohen DCA 920-170 (C); BMC Phoenicia -; Baramki AUB -; Rouvier -, NGC Ch VF, strike 3/5, surface 3/5, weight 13.72 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 34 - 35 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 left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond under right wing, date PΞ (year 160) over club left, KP (καισαρ?) over monogram (control) right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; $870.00 (€739.50)
 


Shekel of Tyre, KP Type, 38 - 39 A.D., Temple Tax for Two

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.
SL86644. Silver shekel, Baramki AUB 88; Cohen DCA 920-164 (S); RPC I 4668 (2 spec.); Prieur 1428 (4 spec.); Rouvier 2111; BMC Phoenicia -, NGC XF, strike 3/5, surface 3/5 (4241491-013), weight 13.84 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 38 - 39 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 left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond under wing, date PΞD (year 164) over club left, KP (καισαρ?) over monogram right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; scarce; $870.00 (€739.50)
 


Tyre, Phoenicia, 80 - 79 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.
SH86530. Silver half shekel, HGC 10 358; Cohen DCA 921 (S); BMC Phoenicia p. 251, 226 var. (different monogram right); cf. Rouvier 2131 (this year and monogram, shekel), aVF, centered, toned, scrapes, edge chips and lamination defects, corrosion, rough, weight 5.430 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, 80 - 79 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, ZM (year 47) over club left, ΦIΛ monogram right, Aramaic letter bet between legs; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $850.00 (€722.50)
 







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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 Thursday, August 16, 2018.
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Temple Tax Biblical Coins