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Ruler: Judaea: Alexander Jannaeus
Reigned: 103 B.C. - 76 B.C.
Denomination: AE Prutah or Lepton (Widow's Mite)
Obverse: "ΒΑΣΙΛΙΩΣ ΑΛΕXΑΝΔΡΟϒ" around anchor.
Reverse: Star of eight rays within dotted circle around which Hebrew legend. "Yehonatan the King"
Reference: Meshorer 9, GCV 6088, Hendin 471?
Weight: 1.4 gms
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Comment: This coin is commonly called a "Widow's Mite" from the quotation in Mark 12:42:

"And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called [unto him] his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in,than all they which have cast into the treasury"

Why this particular coin is known as the Widow's Mite is uncertain as several others are equally small and apparently low value.


The Maccabees (whose history is written in the Old Testament) were a family of Jewish rulers prominent in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and more correctly known as the Hasmonaeans. The founder was Judas, third son of the priest Mathathias, who was designated by his dying father as the new leader of the band of guerrilla warriors in year 167 B.C.

Rulers were:

Shimon (141-135 BC), brother of Judas.

John Hyrcanus (135-104 BC), son and successor of Simon

Aristobulus I called Judah, King of Judaea, (104-103 BC), the son and successor of John Hyrcanus.

Aristobulus' brother and successor was Alexander Jannaeus, who ruled from 103 BC to 76 BC. He became king and high priest through marriage to Aristobulus's widow, and he followed the policies of John Hyrcanus in conquering and converting the surrounding territories to Judanism, expanding the Hasmonaean kingdom to its greatest extent. His reign was marked by war, intrigues and internal strife. He was the bitter enemy of the Pharisees. He was killed during a siege of a Greek city. He was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra (76 - 67 BC), who reversed his policy and was guided by the Pharisees.

Salome Alexandra was succeeded by her son Hyrcanus II (67 - 63 BC) and by Alexander and Salome's son Aristobulus II (67 - 63 BC). The pair fought until in 63 BC, Palestine became a Roman province.

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