Two authentic widow’s mites in an olive wood box
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, yet 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.), and was mass-produced in Jerusalem. The front contains a star design with 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 with the Greek inscription reading, “King Alexander.” These small coins were in circulation for a long duration, and 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. 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.