The Widow’s Mite – New Testament Coin from Jesus’ Time
Ruler: Alexander Jannaeus
Date: 95-76 B.C.
This small bronze coin was made famous in Jesus’ parable of the Widow’s Offering (Mark 12, Luke 21). In this story, the widow gives an offering of only two small coins.
Worth only a fraction of a penny. Jesus valued her offering greater than all the others because she gave everything she had.
This coin was first minted by Alexander Jannaeus (76-103 B.C.). It was mass-produced in Jerusalem. The front contains a star design. The paleo-Hebrew characters of Jehonatan (Alexander Jannaeus’ Hebrew name) between the rays.
The back contains an anchor as a symbol of naval strength after conquering the philistine coastal cities. The Greek inscription reads “King Alexander.” These small coins were in circulation for a long duration. They were used as the small change in the first century A.D.
It is the smallest coin in use during Jesus’ time, and is therefore known as the “Widow’s Mite” from this New Testament parable.
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “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)
Although this coin is small and unimpressive. It is a constant reminder of Jesus’ message that God values the heart and sacrifice of a person. Not the outward standards of people.
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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.