JUDAEA Alexander Jannaeas 103-76 BC prutah


JUDAEA, Alexander Jannaeas, 103-76 BC, prutah, no date, Obverse: anchor, Reverse: star in circle, no legend around, bronze, 8-11mm, 0.44g, SG6088, H472, VF

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The mostly tiny bronze coins of the ancient Jews tell us of the low economic level of their country at the time. The silver and gold were made elsewhere, where the money was.

Because of his long reign, the coins of Jannaeus are the most common of the ancient Jewish series. Later in his reign, and posthumously as well, imitations of his coinage were made, some very small and barbarous, like this one. These are most likely the “widow’s mite” coins of the Jesus story.

Alexander Yannai was one of those headstrong and violent kings who conquered his enemies and oppressed his people. During his 27 year reign he expanded his kingdom into what is now Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Gaza.

The ancient historian Josephus wrote the history of the Jews from the First Day to the First Revolt. Go read it, then we can talk. When the Persians conquered the Babylonians they set the Jews free and they returned to Judaea. Then Alexander the Great conquered Persia, which became the domain of the Seleukid kings. Antiochos IV precipitated the Maccabee revolt, then got preoccupied with other wars and had to make an internal autonomy deal with the Jews. The Maccabees made a priestly government. We call their priestly dynasty the Hasmoneans. The High Priests behaved exactly like kings.

Ancient Coins includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.