Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah (Gen 23:16) for 400 shekels
of silver. This was probably just ingots, weighted at bullion value.
GENERAL NOTE ON GREEK COINS
first Greek coins were produced around 700 BC either by the Lydians or
the Ionian Greeks, using electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Because
the mixture of the compound was not constant and it was hard to detect
the respective amounts, this coin was abandoned for a double system of
gold and silver coinage, with the weights adjusted against each other for
the purposes of ready exchange.
was an unevenness in the quality of the ancient Greek coins. In some periods
the mint-makers were sometimes careless when the coins were struck in large
quantities. While the deteriorated condition of some of the coin finds
may be attributed to normal wear and tear, or to the circumstances of their
deposit (dampness in tombs, encrustations, etc.), imperfections in minting
may be a factor for consideration.
came and went in series and military defeat caused the forcible closure
of some mints, e.g., the Athenian mint was superseded by the Macedonian
mint during the heyday of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great, but
in 220 it reopened but was closed again in 86 BC when Sulla captured Athens.
No further silver coins were struck until the 2nd Cent AD when Athens was
permitted to strike bronze coins for local use.
placement of the representations of the Greek gods was thought to ensure
their protection. The goddess Athena was represented as an owl. Other types
were the bee as a symbol for Artemis and the eagle for Zeus. Sometimes
the symbols used were merely heraldic, e.g., the griffin of Abdera, the
sphinx of Chios, and the ear of barley for Metapontum. Askew continues
by quoting Barclay Head that until the time of Alexander the Great no Greek
king, however great a ruler he was, attempted to put his representation
on the coins. Only the gods were represented and honoured in the district
where they were circulated.
This shekel does not have the head of Lysimachus or any of the Ptolemies.
It does not have a date because Greek coins did not carry the date. This
Shekel probably originated from Tyre and was part of a hoard of
about 40 Jewish and Tyrian shekels found in the Siloam district of Jerusalem.
11 pieces were bought by A. Reifenberg. The latest coin in the 11 pieces
was a Jewish shekel of the second year of the Jewish War against Rome and
it was struck in 67 AD. Accordingly to the Israel Museum the hoard contained
coins from the period 103-76 BC and these coins were in circulation during
the reign of Alexander Jannaeus.
"This is one of the first hoards in which Tyrian shekels have
been found together with Jewish shekels and it is very important. In the
past, Jewish shekels were attributed to the Hasmonean period, and were
thought to have been struck under Shimeon the Hasmonean (140-135 BCE).
A find such as this, however, showing that Jewish shekels were circulated
together with late Tyrian shekels, dating clearly to the sixties of the
first century CE, and showing more signs of wear than Jewish shekels, gives
final proof that the Jewish shekels were struck during the war of 66-70
CE. The inscription "Holy Jerusalem" on the Jewish shekels was inspired
by a parallel Greek inscription on the Tyrian shekel, "Holy Tyre"" (Highlights
of Archaeology, the Israel Museum, p. 122).
Jesus was betrayed therefore
with 30 pieces of Tyrian shekels, not Jewish shekels. While this is not
one of the actual pieces used for the betrayal of Jesus - that cannot be
known - what we have here is something very close to the actual type of
shekel used in the betrayal of Jesus.
adapted from Light and eternity: a guidebook by Dr.
Quek Swee Hwa. 1993.
|A shekel is actually a weight measure for precious metals. Shekels in the
Bible are used with reference to either gold or silver. Gold shekels are
mentioned in Gen 24:22 when Abraham gave Rebekah, his daughter-in-law, a gold
ring weighing half a shekel and gold bracelets weighing 10 shekels. In the
time of Jesus, shekels were more commonly found in silver, as for example the
"thirty silver coins" (Matt 26:15 used by Judas Iscariot to betray
Jesus. The BGST silver shekel is a rare coin. Only about 40 of such coins are
to be found today, mainly in museums. - from unpublished article, The
crucifixion of Jesus by Dr.n Quek Swee Hwa.