Minting its own coinage has been of great importance since ancient times to peoples and countries seeking sovereignty and independence from other states (which are often much more powerful). For example, the Russian numismatist and historian P. P. von Winklernoted in his works that coinage is an undoubted symbol of established supreme power, and therefore it is extremely important for all Muslim peoples and nations. Without a doubt, this is also true for other nations of other faiths and beliefs who had been living in an older historical period.
The Israelites had rebelled 3 times in the beginning of the 1st century of the 1st millennium, A.D.: 1. First Jewish–Roman War 66–73 A.D. (coins issued during this revolt are the subject of the discussion of this article); 2. Kitos War, or Second Jewish–Roman War, 115–117 A.D.; as well as 3. the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 A.D.).
During the First Jewish War the following denominations were minted in silver: shekel, half shekel, and quarter shekel (there were also bronze coins, not discussed here). These silver coins were intended to demonstrate separation of the Jews from Roman authority.
That is why, as we'll see below, in the center of the both sides of the coins there were not the images of the rulers, but important religious items, instead, namely: the Cup, and the sprig of 3 pomegranates.
The front side of the shekel (obverse) depicts the so-called Omer cup. This cup has been used to store «the first fruits», it was also the measure of barley during Passover. Around the Cup, from right to left, using a Paleo-Hebrew alphabet the following text is written: «שקל ישראל», this phrase literally means «shekel (of) Israel».
Legend on the obverse reads:
On the reverse of the shekel there's the sprig of three pomegranates. It has been used by the Jews as decoration on many religiously significant items. Around the sprig — also from right to left, in Paleo-Hebrew alphabet — goes the phrase «ירושלים הקדושה», it literally means «Jerusalem (the) Holy».
Year from the beginning of the War is indicated on the face side of the coin right above the image of the Omer's Cup. The year is written NOT by a number, but by a letter of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, starting from the beginning of the alphabet (to be specific: «א» stands for year 1; «ב» — year 2; «ג» — year 3; «ד» — year 4; «ה» — year 5).
Date on the coins of the 1st year is written using only one character, whereas silver coins minted in the years 2, 3, 4 and 5 before the character of the year there's an extra letter, namely, «ש»; this character is the first letter of the Hebrew word «שָנָה» meaning the word «year».
The table below clearly shows the year symbols, fragments of images of coins and drawings of dates thereon:
As a further aid for you, dear reader, here's an excerpt from the book written by Edgar Rogers' called «A handy guide to Jewish coins» (London, 1914), page 5:
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In support of the point made at the beginning of this article, I'd like to share with you guys a quote from an Israeli website. On November 23, 2021, the web-site «hidabroot.org» published an article entitled «Holy Jerusalem: A rare 2,000-year-old silver coin found in the City of David». Dr Koal from the Israel Antiquities Authority says, «(Nation's own) money is a sign of sovereignty. If you rebel, you use one of the symbols (of independence). The most obvious declaration of independence is the minting of (Nation's) own coin. The inscriptions on the coin clearly express the ambitions of the rebels. The choice of the Paleo-Hebrew script, which was no longer in use at that time, was no accident: its use was an expression of the longing of the people of that time for the days of David and Solomon and the days of the One Kingdom of Israel — that is, the days when the people of Israel had complete independence in (their) land.».
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For more information on the topic, see the following sources: