JUDAEA, Hasmonean Kings

Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 BC

AE Lepton. 1.0g, 13.3mm

MINTED: JUDAEA, Jerusalem mint, Year 25 (80/79 BC)
REF: Hendin 1152; HGC 10, 644
OBVERSE: Aramaic legend around eight-rayed star.

REVERSE: Greek legend around anchor within circle.



Though they were struck many decades before Jesus's birth, the leptons issued by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus were still widely used in Judaea during the time of Jesus's ministry.  The vast majority of them were crude, ragged scraps of copper, coins of the absolute lowest value, but in the Bible, two of them feature meaningfully in Jesus's Lesson of the Widow's Mite.  


Mark 12:41-44 (New International Version): 

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 
44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”


Historical Notes:

Alexander Jannaeus was a ruler of the Hasmonean dynasty that controlled Judaea from 140-37 BC.  The Hasmoneans originally ruled as high priests, but later as kings, with Alexander being the second after his brother, the short-lived Aristobulus I, to take the title.  Alexander was an energetic warrior-king, whose military exploits greatly expanded the borders of the Jewish kingdom.  During his long reign, he conquered the cities of Straton's Tower, Anthedon, Gamala and Gaza amongst others, warred against the Nabataeans, and successfully retained his throne through a 6-year civil war precipitated by the invasion of Judaea by the Seleukid king, Demetrios III.  He died while on campaign in the Transjordan in 76 BC and was succeeded by his wife, Salome Alexandra.  

JUDAEA, Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 BC . AE Lepton . Widow's Mite of the Bible

SKU: 4088
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