THE BIBLICAL MAGI: A SET OF THREE COINS

THE BIBLICAL MAGI: A SET OF THREE COINS


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Holy Land: Coins: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1327994

Please refer to our stock # Magi1 when inquiring.
Biblical Artifacts
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 $387.00 
Bactria 35 BCE- CE 5

This collection includes three Azes II coins of the kind that would have been used to finance the journey of the Magi: a bronze tetradrachm, a silver drachm, and a silver tetradrachm.

On the obverse is the king on horseback, following a star. On the reverse is one of several Greek deities.

The coins feature both Greek and Kharoshthi writing, making these among the earliest bilingual coins. Much of Azes’ coinage was issued before the birth of Christ, but all were in circulation during Jesus’ lifetime.

Indo-Scythian Billon Tetradrachm of Azes II

Country: Bactria

Year of issue: 35 BCE-CE 5

Ruler: Azes II

Denomination : Tetradrachm

Material: Billon

Weight: 6.4-9.7 g

Diameter: 19-22 mm

Thickness: 3.2-4.6 mm

Obverse: Azes II on horseback

Reverse: Greek deity


 
Indo-Scythian Silver Tetradrachm of Azes II

Country: Bactria

Year of issue: 35 BCE-CE 5

Ruler: Azes II

Denomination : Tetradrachm

Material: Silver

Weight: 8-9.5 g

Diameter: 21.9-26 mm

Thickness: 2.56-3.3 mm

Obverse: Azes II on horseback

Reverse: Greek deity


 
Indo-Scythian Silver Drachm of Azes II

Country: Bactria

Year of issue: 35 BCE-CE 5

Ruler: Azes II

Denomination : Drachm

Material: Silver

Weight: 1.6-2.3 g

Diameter: 12.9-14.5 mm

Thickness: 1.9-2.6 mm

Obverse: Azes II on horseback

Reverse: Greek deity


 
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Three wise men, kings from the East, follow the Star of Bethlehem to the manger where Mary lay with the baby Jesus, and present the newborn king with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The story is an indelible part of the Christian culture that is renewed with every singing of “We Three Kings”, with every Nativity display on every lawn at Christmastime, with every celebration of Twelfth Night, which commemorated the day that the Magi arrived.

So who were the “wise men ,” really? Magi is a Latin word deriving from an Old Persian term for the Zoroastrian priestly caste; the English word magic derives from it. Given the significance of the star in the Gospel story, it is likely that the magi were astrologers, highly regarded in that era, and that they hailed from somewhere within the boundary of the old Persian Empire, which included most of the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. Matthew 2:1-12, the lone mention of the “wise men ” in the Scriptures, tells us that after visiting Jesus, the Magi “departed into their own county”, indicating that, contrary to popular belief, the magi were all from the same kingdom, and not three different ones.

Scholars now believe the Magi were representatives of the Indo-Scythian ruler Azes II, king of Bactria, in what is now Afghanistan. A political descendant of Alexander the Great, Azes would have been influenced by happenings in the West, and it was certainly in his interest to get into the good graces of the future King of the Jews. Religious art tends to portray one of the kings presenting Jesus with a vessel made of gold, but it is more likely that “gold” alluded to in the Gospel is shorthand for “money”--most likely the coin of Azes II included in this collection.