Herod the Great ruled Judea from 37-4 B.C. He was a superb military leader who secured control of the region under the graces of Rome. A skilled builder, Herod completely remodeled the Jerusalem Temple, designed Caesarea and other cities, and built palaces at Jerusalem, Masada, and other places. Although other rulers might be remembered foremost for these building ruins, Herod is most often associated with being King during the time of Jesus Christ’s birth. Jewish and Christian traditions portray Herod as a tyrant, primarily for over-taxation and ordering the Massacre of the Innocents. However, it is unlikely that such an event ever took place considering that such an order would have required the explicit approval of Rome and that Rome would not support an order likely to incite rebellion and revolt. This prophetic myth instead reflects Herod’s obsessive paranoia and fear of conspirators that often afflicts those in possession of great power.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial to the great King Herod, King of the Jews, passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.