Ancient ‘Widow’s Mite’ Jewish coin.
What we call the ‘Widow’s Mite’ is actually a bronze prutah (small denomination) from the Hasmonean period. Minted under Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.). This is an interesting coin which on one side has a design of star with paleo-Hebrew characters. In between the rays which spell out the Hebrew name of Alexander Jannaeus, Yehonatan.
On the other side, there is an anchor with a Greek inscription. This reads, “Alexander Jannaeus, the king” on the outside of the anchor. The symbol of the anchor was used to commemorate Alexander Jannaeus’ conquest of the coastal plain. This expanding the Hasmonean territory to the Mediterranean.
The star was a common symbol in the Ancient Near East which could refer to a number of ideas related to the heavens or counting the seasons.
The use of both paleo-Hebrew (ancient Hebrew used during the time of King David), and Greek indicates the society of the second century B.C.. This coin would please both the supporters of Hellenism and the conservatives who existed during this time. It is however, a very controversial coin. Before Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean rulers only referred to themselves as the high priest on their coinage, not king.
So, why do we call this coin the Widow’s Mite? The silver coins of the day, which were re-minted each year. Made for every new ruler, the small bronze coins were reused during later periods. These coins were massed produced in the Hasmonean period throughout Israel. They are found in later excavations. Including the first century (time of Jesus).
We know that these coins were used as the small change during Jesus’ time. Making this coin the most likely candidate for Jesus’ parable of the widow’s offering in Luke 21. This faceless, unimpressive Jewish coin was all the widow had. This was the great illustration of Jesus’ teaching.
“Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21: 1-4)
Comes with a certificate of authenticity and all required documents for export approval.
You are invited to visit Zak and feel the bustling surrounding his store. Come and enjoy a cup of tea and chat about the vast range of antiquity in his store. His knowledge of antiquity and the widows mite Coin shall fascinate you.
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Zak’s Antiquities is the website of Zak’s fine art and antiquities. Located on the Christian Quarter road in Jerusalem’s Old City. The shop began in 1964 and has remained as a family owned and operated business till this day. For the past 50 years Zak’s Antiquities has sold ancient coins, antiquities and art authentic to Israel and Jerusalem.