Maccabean Bronze Coins (1st Century BCE) in Contemporary Sterling Silver Ring Setting. Bronze coins 3/8" diameter. From the Maccabean Revolt to the Hasmonean Dynasty (165-37 BCE)
According to Coins Weekley, at the end of the Fifth Syrian War (202-195 BCE) Judah was incorporated into the Seleucid Empire and ruled from Syria. Subsequently, Jewish society was increasingly exposed to Hellenistic influences and ideas, which led to tensions with Orthodox Judaism and subsequently the so-called Maccabean revolt. This and the defeat of the Greek faction formed the basis for the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty. Today Jews still celebrate Hanukkah, observed during the month of Kislev (November/December), to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the successful revolt in 164 BCE.
Maccabean coinage had to reflect the Jewish ban on images, which is why there are no portraits of rulers. The coins were mainly decorated with Hebraic – sometimes also with Aramaic or Greek – inscriptions. This use of different languages and scripts made it possible to transport specific messages about ethnicity, religion and hierarchical positions in Jewish society. The coins minted by Antigonus II Mattathyah (40-37 BCE), the last Hasmonean king of Judah, depict the menorah and the showbread table, i.e. for the first time two objects from the Temple in Jerusalem. Antigonus chose these images on purpose. They document his inheritance, his just claim as a scion of the Hasmonean dynasty to rule as priest-king, setting him apart from his political adversary, the merely half-Jewish Herod; born to a Nabataean mother, Herod’s ancestry made him unfit to assume the office of high-priest.