1 - 2 - 3 - 4

The coins taken after the battles as loot probably consisted of the silver tetradrachms, didrachms and drachms of Antiochus IV and earlier Syrian kings. It is a recorded fact that for many years these Seleucid coins were used as the preferred money for commerce in Judaea and also to pay the Temple taxes in Jerusalem, despite the fact that they carried the graven images of kings and pagan deities in violation of the Second Commandment.3 Also, the Jews did not strike their own coinage in those years and foreign coins circulated widely in the country. The Syrian coins usually depicted an idealized portrait of the ruling king and a reverse image of the Greek god, Zeus or, sometimes, of the goddess, Athena. It is ironic that these particular coins were accepted by the Jews during those years because the enforcement of the worship of Zeus was the prime cause of the revolt against the Syrians. The priest Mattathias, the first Maccabee, precipitated the rebellion by killing a Jew about to sacrifice a pig, the totem symbol of Zeus, on an altar in the town of Modiin. The Syrians had demanded that Jews give up their devotion to the One God and pay homage to Zeus by sacrificing a pig and eating its flesh. As a digression, I believe that this is the reason for the great hatred, far in excess of the prohibition in the dietary laws, that observant Jews feel for swine. Eating pork in ancient days was a solemn token of worship to a pagan deity and the greatest act of apostasy for Jews.

A tetradrachm of Antiochns IV Epiphancs, 175-164 B.C., showing his diademed head on the obverse and an enthroned Zeus holding Victory on the reverse. This coin was struck in Abe- Ptolemais, the modern day city of Acco (Acre) in Israel as indicated by the Greek HR monogram under the throne. The legend on the reverie reads as KING ANTIOCHUS, GOD MANIFEST (Epiphmes), BEARER OF VICTORY (Nibephoirn). Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum (BMC) Vol. IV, 17

Syrian silver coinage continued to be used in Judaea for many years afterwards. As the Jewish homeland was a dependency or vassal state of the Seleucid empire, the corns struck by the Syrian kings were the official currency of the country. The coins of the later Syrian king, Antiochus VH, Euregetes (Benefactor), sometimes surnamed Sidetes because he was born in the city of Side, 138- 129 B.C., may even have been struck in the mint in Jerusalem and they circulated widely in Israel It would have been poetic justice for the Jews to use the corns of this monarch as Chanukah Gelt to commemorate the Jewish victories over the armies of his predecessors.

A tetradrachm of Antiochus YD, 139-124 B.C., showing the portrait of the long on the obverse and the image of Athena holding Victory on the reverse. The legend on the reverse reads as KING ANTIOCHUS, BENEFACTOR (Euergetes). The coin is dated by the Greek letters COP in the exergue to 137/36 B.C. Greek Coins and Their Values by David R. Sear, 7091.

In 138 B.C., Antiochus VII, signed a generous treaty with the Jews so that he would be free to deal with his rival, the Syrian king Triphon. He issued a proclamation that affirmed the religious freedom and some of the political independence of Judaea. In it he said - "I confirm all the tax remissions which my royal predecessors granted you, and all their other remissions of tribute. I authorize you to mint your own coinage as legal currency for your own country. Jerusalem and the Temple shall be free of taxation" (I Maccabees 15:5-9). Later on, when he had defeated his antagonist, Antiochus revoked this treaty and then made war on the Jews. Simon Maccabee, 142-134, the second son of Mattathias, was the High Priest and leader of the Jews at that time but he did not take the opportunity to strike his own coinage and continued to use Seleucid currency.4 Probably his son, John Hyrcanus, 134-104 B.C., was the first Hasmonaean leader to strike his own coins but these carry the inscriptions of his suzerain, Antiochus VII. If the tradition of giving Chanukah Gelt for the festival continued in these times, the coins given as gifts would have been the silver of the Seleucid kings or the new, small bronze coins struck by John Hyrcanus for Antiochus VII in Jerusalem. These coins were inscribed with Syrian inscriptions in Greek and, because no Hebrew legends were used, some numismatists attribute these coins only to Antiochus VII. The obverse showed the emblem of the Seleucid dynasty, an inverted anchor, with the Greek inscription for 'King Antiochus, Benefactor'. The reverse illustrated a lily, the flower symbolic of Judaea or Jerusalem which dates back to much earlier times.

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
(818) 225-1348