bronze coin of John Hyrcanus/Antiochns VII, 14 millimeters in
diameter, supposedly struck "t a Jerusalem mint, showing the inverted
anchor on the obverse with the legend BASILKOSANTIOCHIJSEUERGETKS.
The reverse displays a formalized lily. The date in Greek letters,
APR, year 181 = 131/30 B.C. is given in the exergue of the obverse.
Greek Coins and Their Values, 7101.
low denomination coins probably became the Chanukah Gelt for children
during the festival in the 2nd* and 1st" century B.C. and they
were given as mementos of the great Maccabean victories over the
Syrians. The design of this coin was so popular among the Jewish
people that it was copied and used during the long reign of the
later Hasmonaean king, Alexander Jannaeus,103-76 B.C., the great
nephew of Judah Maccabee. This ambitious and cruel ruler expanded
his kingdom so that it was roughly the same size as the domain
held by the biblical King David. Taking advantage of the weakness
of the last Seleucid kings, Jannaeus achieved political and religious
independence from Syria but he later turned into a tyrant who
was hated by his own people. His small bronze coins reused the
lily design but placed it on the more important obverse side of
the coin. He duplicated the Seleucid royal symbol, the anchor,
on the reverse to indicate that he had usurped the supremacy over
the sea from the Syrians but also to remind the people about the
miraculous Maccabean military victories. Also, the coin's legends
were bilingual using ancient paleo-Hebrew script on the obverse
and Greek on the reverse. These 'copy-cat' coins were really propaganda
pieces to affirm Jannaeus' independence and to remind the nation
of his glorious ancestry. As such, they were ideal for use as
Chanukah Gelt distributed during the holiday.
bronze coin called a 'prutah', 15 millimeters in diameter, struck
by Alexander Jannaens, 103-76 B.C., probably in Jerusalem. The
obverse displays the lily and the paleo-Hebrew legend of YKHONATAN
THE KING. The reverse shows a stylized version of the Seleucid
anchor and the Greek inscription, KING ALEXANDER. Greek Coins
and Their Values, 6086.
the history of Israel, the festival of Chanukah must be regarded
as a. great celebration of the Jewish spirit. The real miracle
of Chanukah was the peoples' choice of an 'activist' policy of
resistance to Syrian oppression rather than the 'passivist', policy
of accommodation and compromise. Jews of every era have faced
this same choice and responded courageously, even against impossible
odds. Perhaps in the future, with the restoration of the true
meaning of Chanukah, the place names of the Maccabean victories,
Shechem, Beth Horon, Emmaus, and Beth Zur, will be returned to
the Jewish collective memory and take their places alongside illustrious
names like The Warsaw Ghetto.
in those early days of Israel, the passivist factions who controlled
the nation, changed Chanukah from a belated Sukkot holiday and
a celebration of independence from Syrian domination into a festival
of rededication of the temple and a commemoration of the 'Lights'
which burned from a miraculous, small jug of oil. Today, Jews
are continuing this sad process of transformation and Chanukah
is being converted into a Jewish substitute for the competing
holiday of Christmas. But, as long as coins are made, we will
have Chanukah Gelt to remind us of the great battles won by the
Jews against superior Syrian armies and the enormous spoils of
war that were distributed to the people, "even unto the little