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Year Three Shekel

495750. Sold For $7500

JUDAEA, Jewish War. 66-70 CE. AR Shekel (22mm, 14.22 g, 12h). Jerusalem mint. Dated year 3 (68/9 CE). Omer cup; “Y[ear] 3” (date) in Hebrew above, “Shekel of Israel” (in Hebrew) around / Sprig of three pomegranates; “Jerusalem the holy” in Hebrew around. Deutsch – (O5/R23 [unlisted die combination]); MCP dies 02/R44 (this coin referenced and illustrated); Meshorer 202; Kadman 20; Hendin 1361; Bromberg 68 (same obv. die); Shoshana I 20207–9; Sofaer 29; Spaer 174. EF, deeply toned. Rare die combination.

Ex M. & R. Snider Collection (Superior, 4 June 1984), lot 1508.

In 66 CE, after enduring decades of oppressive Roman rule, the people of Jerusalem rose up in revolt. The rebellion spread quickly throughout Judaea and thousands of Romans living in the region were either massacred or forced to flee. The leaders of the revolt declared Israel an independent nation and began striking coins in silver and bronze; probably the mint was located within the Temple compound in Jerusalem. The silver coins were shekels, half-shekels and quarter-shekels, the last struck only in small numbers. Since the Jews forbade the depiction of the human face or figure in art, there are no portraits or other “graven images” on these Jewish coins. The obverse, or “heads” side, shows a ceremonial beaded chalice or basin (though often described as an Omer cup used in the Passover ceremony, the beaded rim on this version would make it exceedingly difficult to drink from!) with the Hebrew inscription “Shekel of Israel.” The date, in years from the beginning of the revolt, appears in Hebrew letters over the cup. The reverse shows three pomegranates on a single stem, possibly representing the terminal of a ceremonial staff, and carries the inscription “Jerusalem the Holy.” Today coins of Year 5 are the rarest shekels, followed by Years 4, 1, 3 and 2.