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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Eleven Tyrian Shekels
Eleven Tyrian Shekels - F.112
Origin: Jerusalem
Circa: 120 BC to 57 AD

Collection: Silver Tetradrachms
Medium: Silver
Condition: Extra Fine

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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Obverse: Portrait of the Phoenician God of the Sea Melkart

Reverse: Eagle Facing Left

Then one of the 12, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for 30 pieces of silver.

- Matthew 26:14-15

Silver tetradrachms of Tyre, commonly called shekels, were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple and are the most likely coinage with which Judas was paid for the betrayal of Christ. They were issued from 126 B.C. to the time of the First Jewish War in 69-70 A.D. on a very consistent, yearly basis. Considering that the world was quickly falling to Roman invaders, this fact is even more impressive. Yet the reasons are evident: the Jewish people had to pay an annual tax to the Jerusalem Temple that was only payable in the money of Tyre. Shekels from Tyre were widely available in the region and were well known for their good silver content and accurate weight. Such a coin as this is likely to have been one among the thirty silver shekels handed over to Judas to induce his betrayal of Jesus.

How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your 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 touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural details that are often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. In our hands, this coin transports us to another era as the past comes alive. Feeling the silver against our skin, we become overwhelmed by the temptations of wealth and riches Judas succumbed to. Suddenly the stories of the Bible become alive and their lesson gain a new relevance to our modern lives In antiquity, the Phoenician port of Tyre was famous for its wealth and opulence. With trade routes throughout the Mediterranean, Tyre imported the finest luxury goods for the pleasure of its citizens. Its coinage reflects the city's confidence and power. It displays the head of the god Melkarth (known to the Greeks as Herakles) on one side and the imperial eagle of Zeus on the other. These so-called Tyrian shekels were most probably the coins paid to Judas as the famous thirty pieces of silver. - (F.112)


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