Numismatic and History Discussions > Biblical & Judean Coins

Merry Christmas and Happy Channukah!

<< < (3/3)

Robert, You are right, that is odd.  But it would be odd, no matter where the coin was minted, as Jews had to have been involved, and would have made their concerns known.  If it were Caesarea, Herod, as a Jew, would have known, and if people cared enough, he would have changed it.  It may just be that the Jews did not care at this point, and they naturally assumed that for a coin to be sure of having pure silver, it needed to be stamped with Melqarth, just as a matter of custom.  We know for a fact that they were not so zealous about this image deal at this point.  While they would still object to any images in the Temple, they had no problem with seeing the Menorah and the Showbread table on their coins.  The religious fervor took over much later, as they were approaching the revolt.  Then, it was deemed unacceptable to portray the Menorah, and so only portrayed the Temple amphorae on their coins, and, by the same token, only rejected the Melqarth image as they neared the revolt.  So it is not improbable that the coins would be minted in Jerusalem, with that cultural climate.

Herod wasn't a 'proper' Jew; he was an Idumean, roughly from what's now the Gaza Strip. They'd been forcibly converted a couple of generations earlier, and weren't really accepted. He didn't have much respect for Torah, causing major offence, for instance, but putting an image of a golden eagle over the Temple gate. His position was pretty much that of the Hellenising Jews of the previous century, who must still have been about, though they had been out of power under the Hasmoneans, and I don't know quite what had happened to them after the Maccabean Revolt, which was a major defeat for them. After his death, there were revolts across his Jewish territories, suggesting a certain eagerness for change! It's only with Herod Agrippa I the third generation of the family, that we get a ruler who was actually acceptable to strict Jews.

The big problem I see with the idea of a mint in Jerusalem is that it was a turbulent city, subject to regular large-scale rioting, the Jews had a history of revolts, and I'd have thought that the Romans would have seen it as too much of a hostage to fortune. The Jews had never minted silver, and may well never had permission to do so, though they'd also have needed cooperation from outside to import it. A Roman client king like Herod had very limited autonomy, and certainly couldn't just set up a mint to suit himself.

no, you're right, he couldn't just set one up by himself, but his good buddy Augustus would be willing to help if he was assured that a Jerusalem mint would not lead to problems.  Herod, even though an Idumaean, still had knowledge of the laws, and was relatively respectful of them, even though his subjects thought otherwise, until his later years.  The switch to Jerusalem would have happened in his early days when he was still (unsuccessfully) trying to gain favor amonst the Jews by doing things like rebuild the Temple.  THe Jews hated him from the beginning, and no matter what he did, he couldn't change that.  Eventually, his cruelty built up, and he stopped trying to be liked.  Relocating the mint to Jerusalem may just have been another early favor done by him with the blessing of Augustus for the Jews.  Like I said before, the reason why the images didn't change may just be that the Jews of the time were in a less zealous climate in which custom won.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one! Happy New Year.

agreed.  :)

Happy New Year to you, too!


[0] Message Index

[*] Previous page

Go to full version