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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.


The Temple Tax Coin, Tyre KP Type Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 36 - 37 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.
SL85592. Silver shekel, Cohen DCA 920-162 (C); BMC Phoenicia p. 249, 206; RPC I 4666; Prieur 1426 (6 spec.); Rouvier 2109; Baramki AUB -, NGC AU (about Uncirculated), strike 4/5, surface 5/5 (1883026-004), weight 14.37 g, maximum diameter 22 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 36 - 37 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 PΞB (year 162) over club left, KP (καισαρ?) over monogram right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; SOLD


Jerusalem or Tyre, 42 - 43 A.D., Jerusalem Temple Tax Coin

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The Temple Tax Coin.
Shekels of Tyre were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple. When Tyre's coins were debased under Rome, shekels marked KP were likely struck at Jerusalem to maintain good silver coinage for the annual temple tax. "..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." 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. Matthew 17:24-27.
SH79730. Silver shekel, cf. CNG auction mail-bid sale 61 (25 Sep 2002), lot 860 (same controls, otherwise unpublished, this date is recorded for a half-shekel, RPC I 4700), VF, nice style, toned, tight flan, reverse die wear (most evident in the H in the date), weight 13.949 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 42 - 43 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 behind, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs, PΞH (year 168) and club left, KP over PKE monogram (control) right; missing from references and major collections - the CNG coin is the only other year 168 shekel known to Forum; SOLD


Tyre, Phoenicia, 99 - 98 B.C., Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver

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Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver
"Then one of the 12, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for 30 pieces of silver." Matthew 26:14-15. Shekels of Tyre were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple and are the most likely coinage with which Judas was paid for the betrayal of Christ.

The Temple Tax Coin
"..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." 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. Matthew 17:24-27
SH28054. Silver shekel, BMC Phoenicia, p. 241, 126 - 127 var. (right monogram), EF, weight 13.742 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 92 - 91 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 left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, date EΛ (year 35) over club and palm frond left, MY monogram right; 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 Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
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Temple Tax Biblical Coins