Biblical Archaeology Review 29:3, May/June 2003

Spending Your Way through Jewish History

Ancient Judean Coins Tell Their Story

By Sandy Brenner

Coins, ancient and modern, facilitate the flow of commerce. But their usefulness does not end there. Coins are also effective tools of mass communication—to disseminate propaganda. This was especially important in the ancient world, before television or even the printing press. Thanks to this second role, coins also provide considerable historical information. And they are often very beautiful, too.

In these pages, we present a series of “firsts” in coins used in Judea—the first Temple tax coin, the first coin used in Judea with a portrait on it, and so on. These examples can serve as an introduction to the world of ancient Jewish coins, including the history they reveal and the important motifs they bear.

Before 333 B.C.E.

First Coin from Jerusalem

Material: Silver

Denomination: Hemi-Obol

Size: 1/4 inch in diameter

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