135-40 BC Judaea Bronze Prutah of Hyrcanus

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The First Jewish Coin from the Holy Land

  • AN ANCIENT COIN 450 YEARS IN THE MAKING – The First Temple Period of the Jewish Kingdom did not strike coins; it was not until after the Babylonian conquest – 450 years later – that the Jews struck their first coins during the Second Temple period.
  • WELL OVER 2,000 YEARS OLD – These bronze coins were struck during the Second Temple period between 135 and 40 BC, making each at least 2,050 years old.
  • A NOD TO ROMAN MYTHOLOGY – The coins show a symbol of abundant harvest in the form of a cornucopia. However, the cornucopia derives from Roman mythology and was probably used as a nod to the power of the mighty Roman Republic.
  • INSPECTED AND GUARANTEED BY THE ANA – Each coin in this offer has been inspected and guaranteed to be authentic by a member of the American Numismatic Association.
  • COMES WITH PRESENTATION PORTFOLIO – Your coin will come beautifully presented in a collectible coin album and accompanied by a fact-filled storycard and a Certificate of Authenticity.

During the First Temple Period of the Jewish Kingdom of Judaea from 1010 to 587 BC, no coins were struck or circulated. It was not until the Second Temple Period some 450 years later that the first Jewish coins were minted during the reign of King Yehohanan (John) Hyrcanus I, the first ruler of the legendary Hasmonean dynasty which returned Israel to Jewish control. Hyrcanus was able to ascend to the highest rank in the Jewish Kingdom thanks to an unfortunate series of events. He was absent from a banquet attended by his father and two brothers during which they were murdered by Hyrcanus’ brother-in-law, Ptolemy, the governor of Jericho.

Though not technically a “king,” Hyrcanus became the high priest of Judaea, which meant he essentially was the king and is often referred to as such in the history books. Under his leadership, the Jews were able to fend off an invasion by the Seleucid Empire – which had appointed by Ptolemy to his post – and doubled the size of their kingdom. It was during this time that they also minted their first coins, these bronze prutahs. Hyrcanus reigned from 134 until his death in 104 BC and these coins continued to be struck until the end of the Hasmonean Dynasty in 37 BC when it was supplanted by the Herodian Dynasty.

This example of the first Jewish coin measures 12-14.5 mm in diameter. While a wreath is shown on one side framing a Hebrew inscription which translates to “Yehohanan the High Priest and the Council of the Jews,” the coin’s obverse showed the growing influence of the Romans. It is there that you will see a double cornucopia curving around a pomegranate at the center of the coin. The pomegranate was one of the most celebrated products of Palestine, a sacred fruit to the early Jewish civilization. However, it is interesting to note the use of a cornucopia since that particular symbol derives from Roman mythology. Many coin experts agree that it was probably used as a nod to the power of the mighty Roman Republic – already the major power in the Mediterranean and a soon-to-be Empire with the coming of the first Roman Emperors by the close of the 1st Century BC.

Dimensions 12mm