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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Holy Land: Coins: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1336183

Please refer to our stock # herod.1 when inquiring.
Biblical Artifacts
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at The Inbal Hotel, Liberty Bell Park, 3 Jabotinsky Street
P. O. Box 14646, Jerusalem 9114601, Israel
tel. 972 2 583 7606

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Reign of Herod the Great (c. 40-4 BCE)

Jerusalem Mint

Obverse: HPW BACIΛ; anchor.

Reverse: Double cornucopia with caduceus between, dots above.

Weight: 1.31-1.71 g; Diameter: 13.6-15.1 mm

Condition: Fine to Very Fine

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Hendin, 1188


Herod the I (The Great), is perhaps best remembered by modern history as the Roman governor of Judaea at the time of the birth of Christ and for his “slaughter of the innocents”. While he was certainly ruler during the birth of Christ in the last 1st Century BCE the slaughter of the innocents is less likely. Since there is no historical text which backs up such a high profile massacre it is doubtful if this ever actually occurred. What is historical record, depicts various views of Herod depending on the source.

Herod was born in 73 BCE to Antipater, an adviser to the Hasmonean Dynasty. His family were originally Idumaeans who were converted to Judaism under Hyrcanus I. Antipater was the most respected adviser to the Hasmonean king Hyrcanus II and it is during this time that Herod was appointed governor of Galilee at the age of only 15 years old. In 40 BCE he was declared king of Judaea by the Roman Senate and forcibly took Jerusalem in 37 BCE with the help of the Roman army. Although Jewish by birth, his allegiance, and more importantly perhaps his power, clearly lay with Rome thus creating a very thin tightrope for Herod the walk. While he certainly did not want to alienate the populace of Judaea he also had to keep the Roman elite happy with these two goals often being at odds with each other. By Roman accounts he was an adequate governor and undertook some of the most ambitious building projects of the day. By Jewish account he was seen as ruthless, tyrannical man. No doubt largely thanks to the constantly increasing tax burden he levied on his subjects to pay for the aforementioned building projects. His excessive paranoia about losing his power and the actions that this provoked, no doubt were not helpful in endearing him to his subjects.

The conflicting loyalties mentioned above are evident in his coinage and are an excellent microcosm of the intricacies of his rule. For example, in the coins included in this set we see a symbiosis of Hellenistic and proceeding Hasmonean iconography in the most elegant of ways. On the side of Jewish law, this coinage lacks graven images and continues the anchor and double cornucopia motifs from the earlier Hasmonean coinage. On the side of Hellenism, we have a Greek inscription, clearly naming Herod as king rather than invoking a religious title and the pomegranate between the cornucopias has been replaced with a caduceus, a clearly pagan symbol.