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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Judean & Biblical Coins ▸ Biblical Coins ▸ The Temple Tax CoinView Options:  |  |  | 

Temple Tax Coins - 1/2 Shekel and Shekel of Tyre

At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied on Jews was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were not always used in everyday commerce, but were the only coins accepted by the temple. Many taxpayers required a currency exchange, so money changers set up in the Temple court. Jesus found this business and their shouting (advertising rates) offensive, so he threw over their tables. "...go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." -- Matthew 17:27. Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Silver shekels and half-shekels of Tyre were minted from c. 126 B.C. until c. 57 A.D. Any coin minted prior to 32 A.D. may have circulated in Jerusalem during Jesus' lifetime.


Jerusalem or Tyre, 20 - 21 A.D., Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver

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Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver
"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. Shekels of Tyre 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.

The Temple Tax Coin
"..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Matthew 17:24-27
SH86527. Silver shekel, RPC I 4659; Prieur 1419 (3 spec.); Cohen DCA 920; HGC 10 357; BMC Phoenicia p. 248, 200 - 201 var. (different monogram right), VF, toned, tight flan as typical for this issue, bumps and marks, weight 14.180 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 20 - 21 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle left, right foot on ship's ram, transverse palm frond on far side, letter between legs, PMς (year 146) and club left, KP over monogram right, uncertain Aramaic letter between eagle's legs; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $1450.00 (€1232.50)
 


Tyre, Phoenicia, 80 - 79 B.C., The Temple Tax Coin

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Half Shekel - the currency of the Jerusalem Temple.

At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied on Jews was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were not always used in everyday commerce, but were the only coins accepted by the temple. Many taxpayers required a currency exchange, so money changers set up in the Temple court. Jesus found this business and their shouting (advertising rates) offensive, so he threw over their tables.
SH86530. Silver half shekel, HGC 10 358; Cohen DCA 921 (S); BMC Phoenicia p. 251, 226 var. (different monogram right); cf. Rouvier 2131 (this year and monogram, shekel), aVF, centered, toned, scrapes, edge chips and lamination defects, corrosion, rough, weight 5.430 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, 80 - 79 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, ZM (year 47) over club left, ΦIΛ monogram right, Aramaic letter bet between legs; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $950.00 (€807.50)
 


Jerusalem or Tyre, 42 - 43 A.D., Jerusalem Temple Tax Coin

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The Temple Tax Coin.
Shekels of Tyre were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple. When Tyre's coins were debased under Rome, shekels marked KP were likely struck at Jerusalem to maintain good silver coinage for the annual temple tax. "..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Matthew 17:24-27.
SH79730. Silver shekel, cf. CNG auction mail-bid sale 61 (25 Sep 2002), lot 860 (same controls, otherwise unpublished, this date is recorded for a half-shekel, RPC I 4700), VF, nice style, toned, tight flan, reverse die wear (most evident in the H in the date), weight 13.949 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 42 - 43 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs, PΞH (year 168) and club left, KP over PKE monogram (control) right; missing from references and major collections - the CNG coin is the only other year 168 shekel known to Forum; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Baramki, D.C. The Coin Collection of the American University of Beirut Museum. (Beirut, 1974).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry and P.P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplement).
Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Hill, G.F. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum: Phoenicia. (London, 1910).
Hoover, O.D. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010).
Meir, C. "Tyrian Sheqels and Half Sheqels with Unpublished Dates from the ‘Isfiya Hoard in the Kadman Numismatic Pavilion" in INR 3 (2008).
Meshorer, Y. "One Hundred Ninety Years of Tyrian Shekels" in Studies Mildenberg.
Prieur, M. and K. Prieur. The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and their fractions from 57 BC to AD 258. (Lancaster, PA, 2000).
Rouvier, J. "Numismatique des Villes de la Phénicie" in Journal International d’Archéologie Numismatique, Tyre" in JIAN 6 (1903), pp. 269 - 332.
Sage, S.B. Biblical Numismatics: Thirty Pieces of Silver. (Jacksonville, FL, 2001).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 7: Cyprus to India. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, January 17, 2018.
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Temple Tax Biblical Coins