Modern Israel's coins carry Hebrew dating formed from a combination of the 22 consonant letters of the Hebrew alphabet and should be read from right to left.
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The shekel was a unit of weight of 8. The shape of the metal ingots varied. Egyptian tomb wall-paintings depict them as shaped like bracelets or oxhides. Such a "golden wedge" was discovered during the excavations of Gezer. In the pre-monarchy period the word kesef "silver" was frequently used instead of shekel Judg. During the period of the kingdoms of Israel and especially of Judah, payments are mentioned in the Bible in the shekel weight, the unit used to weigh the metal bars which were in those days the main means of payment. Jeremiah bought a plot of land and weighed his payment silver on scales Jer.
Subdivisions of the shekel were the beka or half-shekel Gen. The shekel, in turn, was a 50 th part of the maneh, and the maneh was a 60 th part of the kikkar, which thus was equal to 3, shekels. The maneh and the kikkar, however, were only units of account and remained so during the Second Temple period when the shekel became a coin denomination. The earliest known coins originate in Lydia in northwest Anatolia in the late seventh century B. The earliest coins found on Israeli soil are from the second half of the sixth century and the first half of the fifth century B.
They are Greek coins from Athens, Thasos, and Macedon, brought apparently to the country by Greek merchants. In the late fifth and first half of the fourth centuries the land was under Persian rule and Phoenician coins, especially those from Sidon and Tyre, circulated in the northern part of the country and the coastal strip down to south of Jaffa. At the same time there was an abundance of small coins of the obol and hemi-obol denomination, struck in the Gaza area in a great variety of types, which are also artistically interesting.
During that period the Athenian coinage, bearing the head of Pallas Athene and the owl, her holy bird, were the hard currency of the eastern Mediterranean. The owl type coin was so widely imitated on a local level that the local money had the same value as the Athenian coins. Alongside the above-mentioned issues, imitations of the Athenian coinage were also issued in Judea. These silver coins are rather rare, but at least six coin types are known with the inscription Yehud Aramaic: It cannot be determined whether the Jewish high priest or the local Persian governor was the issuing authority.
The largest denomination of this type which has been discovered is the drachm, but the bulk is composed of oboloi and hemi-oboloi.
During the third century B. Palestine was ruled by the Ptolemies and their currency not only circulated there but was struck in local mints at such coastal towns as Acre then already called Ptolemais , Jaffa, Ashkelon, and Gaza. This changed after the battle of Panias in B. The latter used the local mints of Acre, Ashkelon, and Gaza for the production of their own currency, besides the many mints they had in other parts of their kingdom.
Their coins circulated in Palestine at least until the first coins were issued by the Hasmonean rulers. The Ptolemies issued gold, silver, and bronze coins, some of the latter of heavy weight in place of the small silver. Their silver standard was lighter than that of the Seleucids, which still leaned on the Attic standard.
The consecutive history of ancient Jewish coinage begins after the establishment of the independent Hasmonean dynasty in the 2 nd century B. The bulk of Hasmonean coins were of the small bronze denomination, namely the perutah or dilepton. In accordance with the Second Commandment no likeness of living beings, men or animals, are found on them. Most of the emblems, for example the cornucopia — single or double — the wreath surrounding the legend, the anchor, the flower, the star, and the helmet, were copied from emblems found on the late issues of the Seleucid coinage.
The Hasmonean rulers are thus styled on most coins as high priests. The only exception is Alexander Yannai who eventually also styled himself king on some of his Hebrew legends. On the Greek legends the Hasmonean rulers styled themselves throughout as "king. According to I Maccabees This suggestion is based on the fact that cities in Phoenicia and in Palestine received the right to coin their own money from the declining Seleucid kingdom: Tyre in B.
John Hyrcanus' coins are the main pattern for the whole series of Hasmonean coins. All his coins are of the perutah denomination. At the beginning of his reign Alexander Yannai —76 B. Later, he issued another series of coins in Hebrew and Greek on which he styled himself king. Their emblems are star, anchor, both sometimes surrounded by a circle, and flower.
A lepton or half-perutah with a palm branch, and a flower also belong to this "king" series. This is the only coin type in the whole series of Jewish coins which bears an Aramaic legend written in square Hebrew letters and which has been dated.
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As in the Greek legends and this Aramaic one as well, his name is given as "Alexandros. It is believed that in his final issues he reverted to the early Hasmonean coin type, styling himself again as high priest but altering his Hebrew name from Yehonatan to Yonatan probably in order to avoid the formula of the tetragrammaton. There are, however, varieties which are peculiar to his issues. Greek letters, single or as monograms, eventually appear on his coins. These letters probably refer to the magistrates who were responsible for the mint. One larger trilepton shows a helmet and a double cornucopia.
On all his coins he styled himself high priest. During the short reign of the last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus Mattathias 40—37 B. His Hebrew name Mattityahu Mattathias is only given on his perutah denomination. The pomegranate between the double cornucopia is replaced by an ear of barley. He issued two larger denominations which can be compared with the Seleucid chalcous and dichalcous. Antigonus was the only Jewish ruler who depicted the holy vessels of the Temple of Jerusalem on his coins, i. In his Hebrew legends he styles himself high priest and in his Greek legends "king.
The coins of Herod the Great 37—4 B. The dated coins all bear the same date, the year three. As Herod no doubt reckoned his reign from his appointment as king of Judea by the Romans in 40 B. All legends on his coins are in Greek and no Hebrew legends appear on the coins of the Herodian dynasty. The emblems on his coins are the tripod, thymiaterion, caduceus, pomegranate, shield, helmet, aphlaston, palm branch, anchor, double and single cornucopia, eagle, and galley. It may be concluded from this selection of symbols that Herod the Great did not wish to offend the religious feelings of his subjects.
The denominations of his coins were the chalcous and hemi-chalcous rare , the trilepton, and frequently the dilepton or perutah. The coins of Herod Archelaus 4 B. Other types are the double cornucopia, the helmet, bunch of grapes, and wreath surrounding the legend. His main denomination was the perutah, but he also issued a trilepton. Herod Antipas tetrarch of Galilee 4 B. All his coins are dated. On his coins he is called Herod, but they can easily be distinguished as they bear his title "tetrarch. Though the emblems are the same on all denominations, three denominations can be distinguished.
The obverses show a wreath that surrounds the legend "Tiberias"; only the series of the last year refers to Gaius Caligula. As the territory of the tetrarch Herod Philip I 4 B. His coins are dated from the year 5 to the year 37 of his reign, though not all dates occur.
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Three denominations can be observed, though their units cannot be distinguished. This coin was obviously struck for Judea. For the other districts of his kingdom he issued coins that would have offended Jewish religious feelings as they carried his own portrait or that of the Roman emperor and even gods or human beings in the Greco-Roman style of the period. On one very rare coin two clasped hands are shown; the legend seems to refer to an alliance between the Jewish people and the Roman senate.
All Agrippa's coins are dated, and in his non-Jewish series two different groups of two denominations each can be discerned belonging to the reigns of Caligula and Claudius respectively. Herod of Chalcis 41—48 C. His coins can be identified by their legends which mention him and his wife Salome as king and queen. Because of his long reign, the series of coins assigned to Herod Agrippa II c. Two types bear his likeness, and others issued in the year 5 of Agrippa with the name of Nero have a legend surrounded by a wreath.
Taxidermist , Oct 14, You guys are Great!! No wonder I was getting it wrong if you have to read it right to left. I just recently learned the same thing about Japanese and Chinese numbering. I might get the hang of it yet. Thanks ever so much to everyone who replied Poetheraven1 , Oct 15, Draft saved Draft deleted. Share This Page Tweet. Kaplan on some series. Zagaggi on some series. Eshkol; Accountant General A. The minting year appears only on 25 mil coins which were minted in Jerusalem; those printed in Holon bear the minting year The singular form "pruta" instead of the plural "prutot" was erroneously minted on the five- and ten-pruta coins; this was corrected in a later series of the ten-pruta coins, but not the five-pruta.
Anchor; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. The denomination "1 Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim. Four-stringed lyre; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. The denomination "5 Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim. Two-handled amphora; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. The denomination "10 Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim. Same as above except the following.
Encyclopedia Judaica: Coins and Currency
Single-handled jug flanked with palm branches; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Cluster of grapes; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic.
The denomination "25 Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim. Vine leaf; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Coin from the war of the Jews against Rome 66 - 70 C. The denomination "50 Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim. Palm tree; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Bar-Kochba coin - C. The denomination " Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches around the rim.
The denomination " Pruta" and the date in Hebrew; two stylized olive branches. Three palm branches; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Coin minted during the war of the Jews against Rome 66 - 70 C. Three pomegranates; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Three ears of barley; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic.
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Coin of Agrippa I 37 - 44 C. The denomination "1 Agora" and the date in Hebrew. The word "Hanukka" in Hebrew and English separated by a tiny candelabrum. Three ripe pomegranates; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. Carving in a frieze found in an ancient synagogue at Capernaum. The denomination "5 Agorot" and the date in Hebrew. The denomination "10 Agorot" and the date in Hebrew. Three-stringed lyre; "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic. The denomination "25 Agorot" and the date in Hebrew. Relief of the Arch of Titus. The denomination "1 Israeli Pound" and the date in Hebrew.
Alternatingly milled and smooth.
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The denomination "1" between two stars; "One Israeli Pound" and the date in Hebrew. An ancient Hebrew seal found at Megiddo. The denomination "5 Israeli Pounds" and the date in Hebrew. The denomination side was designed by the Currency Supply Unit of the Bank of Israel by combining letters from previous issues. This was done because it was decided not to commission a graphic artist to do the job, in view of the secrecy that shrouded the preparation of the sheqel series.
The foreign mints that struck the coins also prepared the models, on the basis of these designs. Starting with the IS 1 coin, the designs were prepared by graphic artists selected in competitions after the veil of secrecy was lifted. The denomination "1 New Agora" and the date in Hebrew. The denomination "5 New Agorot" and the date in Hebrew. The denomination "10 New Agorot" and the date in Hebrew.
An ancient seal found at Megiddo. Chalice; "Sheqel Israel" in Hebrew.
Coin from the period of John Hyrcanus I - B. The denomination "5 Sheqalim" in Hebrew and English between two stars; the date in Hebrew. Coin issued by Herod Archelaus 4 B. The denomination "10 Sheqalim" in Hebrew and English between two stars; the date in Hebrew. A silhouette of Theodor Herzl on a background formed by the repetition of the word "Herzl". Replica of a coin from the fourth year of the war of the Jews against Rome depicting a lulav between two etrogim; the emblem of the State of Israel; "Israel" in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
The denomination "50 Sheqalim" in Hebrew and English between two stars; the date in Hebrew. An image of David Ben-Gurion on a background of candelabra. Slant-structured, wide and deep reeds. Replica of a coin issued by Mattathias Antigonus 37 - 40 B. The denomination " Sheqalim" in Hebrew and English; the date in Hebrew.
A silhouette of Ze'ev Jabotinsky on a background of Stars of David. Negev landscape with a settlement and farm equipment; the denomination "Five Israeli Pounds" and "Bank of Israel" in Hebrew. In the series the security thread on the left was moved to the middle and replaced by a morse code signifying "Bank of Israel".