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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Judean & Biblical Coins| ▸ |Biblical Coins| ▸ |Christmas||View Options:  |  |  | 

Christmas and the Three Kings

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" Matthew 2:1-8.

Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 4 and 6 B.C.

On this page we list coin that were struck at the time of Jesus' birth or which relate to his birth. Most biblical scholars now believe the "Magi" probably were wise-men, not actually kings. If they were kings, the kings on the coins below are among the most likely visitors.

Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria, 128 - 129 A.D.

|Antioch|, |Antioch,| |Seleukis| |and| |Pieria,| |Syria,| |128| |-| |129| |A.D.||trichalkon|
Michael Molnar, an astronomer, believes this coin depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C., the most probable "Star of Bethlehem." We think it is unlikely; nevertheless, the type is very popular and somewhat expensive.
GB90244. Bronze trichalkon, RPC Online III 3729, Butcher CRS 266, McAlee 125(d), SNG Hunterian II 2950, F, dark near black patina, highlighting red earthen deposits, weight 5.145 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, reign of Hadrian, 128 - 129 A.D.; obverse ANTIOXEΩN THC MHTPOΠOΛEWC, veiled and turreted head of Tyche right, weak countermark at chin; reverse ram leaping right, looking back, star within crescent above, ET ZOP (year 177 of the Caesarean Era) below; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV| |and| |Phasael,| |5| |-| |4| |B.C.||AE| |13|
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 6 and 4 B.C. This type was issued in the names of Aretas IV and his daughter Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.
GB94765. Bronze AE 13, Al-Qatanani 178; Barkay CN 118b; Meshorer Nabataean 64; Huth 82; BMC Arabia p. 10, 35; SNG ANS 6 -, F, dark green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 1.812 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Petra (Jordan) mint, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas right, Nabataean H (het) left, o (ayin) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, Nabataean PS (peh sade) monogram (Phasael, Aretas' son) in center; from the Ray Nouri Collection; scarce; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Herod Archelaus, Ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea, 4 B.C. - 6 A.D.

|Herod| |Archelaus|, |Herod| |Archelaus,| |Ethnarch| |of| |Samaria,| |Judea,| |and| |Idumea,| |4| |B.C.| |-| |6| |A.D.||prutah|
The cornucopia was a hollow animal horn used as a container. One of the most popular religious symbols of the ancient world, the cornucopia is also know as the "horn of plenty."
JD111349. Bronze prutah, Hendin 6223 (S), Meshorer TJC 68, Sofaer 61, RPC Online I 4912, aF, well centered, earthen deposits, casting sprue remnant and cut, rev. edge beveled, weight 1.215 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 4 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse HPWΔH (Greek: of Herod) clockwise (unusual with Δ above), anchor; reverse two cornucopias splayed outward, adorned with ribbons, caduceus between horns, EΘ lower right and N above between the horns (Greek abbreviation: Ethnarch); scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV| |and| |Phasael,| |5| |-| |4| |B.C.||AE| |14|
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 6 and 4 B.C. This type was issued in the names of Aretas IV and his daughter Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.
GB94963. Bronze AE 14, Al-Qatanani 178t1; Barkay CN 118a; Huth 82; Meshorer Nabataean 64; BMC Arabia p. 10, 35; SNG ANS 6 -, F, black patina, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 2.189 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, die axis 270o, Petra (Jordan) mint, spring 5 - spring 4 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas right, Nabataean H (het) left, O (ayin) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, two pomegranates dangling from tops above center, Nabataean PS (peh sade) monogram (Phasael, Aretas' son) in center; scarce; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV| |and| |Phasael,| |5| |-| |4| |B.C.||AE| |13|
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 6 and 4 B.C. This type was issued in the names of Aretas IV and his daughter Phasael, 5 - 4 B.C.
GB94971. Bronze AE 13, Al-Qatanani 178t1; Barkay CN 118a; Huth 82; Meshorer Nabataean 64; BMC Arabia p. 10, 35; SNG ANS 6 -, F, heavy earthen deposits, tight flan, reverse off center, weight 2.604 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Petra (Jordan) mint, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas right, 2 pomegranates hanging down, Nabataean H (het) left, o (ayin) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, two pomegranates dangling from tops above center, Nabataean PS (peh sade) monogram (Phasael, Aretas' son) in center; from the Ray Nouri Collection; scarce; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

|Nabataean| |Kingdom|, |Nabataean| |Kingdom,| |Aretas| |IV,| |9| |B.C.| |-| |40| |A.D.||AE| |14|
Some writers maintain that the horn of plenty should be written, in the singular, cornucopi, and in the plural, cornuacopi. U.S. English dictionaries, however, typically spell the singular, cornucopia and the plural cornucopias.
GB94739. Bronze AE 14, cf. Barkay CN 151b, Al-Qatanani 153t2, Meshorer Nabataean 76, Huth -, SNG ANS 6 -, BMC Arabia -, F, black patina, highlighting earthen deposits, tight flan squared by sprue cuts, weight 1.391 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 0o, Petra (Jordan) mint, 4 - 3 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas with long hair right, Nabataean het (Aretas) right; reverse two crossed and filleted cornucopias, caduceus or scepter in center H (het) on shaft above cross, O (ayin) on shaft below; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $40.00 SALE PRICE $36.00


Roman Syria, Antioch, Civic Series, 11 - 12 A.D., The "Star of Bethlehem Coin"

|Christmas|, |Roman| |Syria,| |Antioch,| |Civic| |Series,| |11| |-| |12| |A.D.,| |The| |"Star| |of| |Bethlehem| |Coin"||AE| |21|
Michael Molnar, an astronomer, believes this coin depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C., the most probable "Star of Bethlehem."
RY83419. Bronze AE 21, RPC I 4266; BMC Galatia p. 159, 62; Butcher 56, VF, weight 7.711 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 11 - 12 A.D.; obverse Zeus' laureate head right; reverse ANTIOXΕΩN MHTPOΠOΛΕΩN, ram running right, looking back, star above, BM (year 42) below, ANT monogram in exergue; SOLD


Judaea, Marcus Ambibulus, Roman Prefect Under Augustus, 9 - 12 A.D.

|Marcus| |Ambibulus|, |Judaea,| |Marcus| |Ambibulus,| |Roman| |Prefect| |Under| |Augustus,| |9| |-| |12| |A.D.||prutah|
Date cultivation in Judea declined after the Roman period, especially during the Crusades, and completely collapsed due to climate change around the 14th century. The Judean Date Palm fell extinct. Excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in 1963-1965 uncovered a cache of date palm seeds preserved in an ancient jar. Radiocarbon dating confirmed the seeds were from 155 B.C. to 64 A.D. In 2005, three of the seeds were planted. Eight weeks later one of the seeds sprouted. The palm, a male, named Methuselah, was grown from the oldest known successfully germinated tree seed. After that success, additional palms from were sprouted from the seeds found at Masada. A female, Hannah, was pollinated by Methuselah and the Judean Date Palm has been recovered.
JD97325. Bronze prutah, Hendin 6358; Meshorer TJC 313; RPC I 4955; Sofaer, pl. 219, 3; BMC Palestine p. 248, 9, gVF, full inscription and date, dark green patina with lighter green highlighting deposits, reverse edge beveled, irregular flan shape with traces of pre-strike casting sprues, weight 2.240 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 315o, Jerusalem mint, 9 A.D.; obverse KAICAPOC (of Caesar), head of barley curved right; reverse eight-branched date palm tree, bearing two bunches of dates, L - ΛΘ (year 39) across field divided by trunk; from an Israeli collection; SOLD


Judaea, Coponius, Roman Prefect Under Augustus, 6 - 9 A.D.

|Coponius|, |Judaea,| |Coponius,| |Roman| |Prefect| |Under| |Augustus,| |6| |-| |9| |A.D.||prutah|
In 6 A.D., Herod Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, was deposed and banished to Gaul by Augustus. Archelaus' part of his father's kingdom (including Judaea, Samaria, Idumea and Archelais) was (except for Archelais) organized as a Roman procuratorial province.
JD98805. Bronze prutah, Hendin 6357; RIC I 4954; Meshorer TJC 311; Sofaer, pl. 219, 1; BMC Palestine p. 248, 1, gF, centered on a tight flan, dark patina with highlighting earthen deposits, remnant of sprue, flat sprue cut opposite, weight 1.912 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 315o, Jerusalem mint, 6 A.D.; obverse KAICAPOC (of Caesar), barley head curved right; reverse eight branched date palm tree bearing two bunches of dates, L - Λς (year 36 of Augustus) flanking tree trunk; from an Israeli collection; SOLD







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