A rare coin minted on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple reveals that Jews hoped for “redemption of Zion.”
By: World Israel News Staff
A coin dating back to 69 CE, the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple, was uncovered recently during wet sifting by a volunteer at the City of David Sifting Project located near the Mount of Olives in Emek Tzurim, Jerusalem.
The coin reads, ‘For the Redemption of Zion.’
The timing of the discovery coincided with the traditional three-week period during which Jews commemorate the destruction of the Temple. This period begins on the 17th day of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar, which marks the day the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, and ends on Tisha b’Av, the date of the Temple’s destruction.
The bronze coin was minted in the fourth year of the Great Jewish Revolt.
According to Israel Antiquities archaeologist Eli Shukron, who is leading the City of David excavations, in the first few years of the rebellion, which lasted from 66-70 CE, coins were inscribed with the battle cry, “For the Freedom of Zion.”
However, in the last year of the revolt the coins were inscribed with the words, “For the Redemption of Zion.”
The change in inscriptions marked the change in the rebels’ consciousness from hope of victory to a realization that defeat was a real possibility.
The coin was discovered during inspection of dirt taken from a drainage ditch which runs under Hagai Street, the main road for pilgrims ascending the Second Temple.
According to the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, some 2,000 rebels were killed by Romans while hiding in drainage ditches. Archaeological finds back up Josephus’s claim: Whole cooking pots, coins, and even a Roman sword of the era have been uncovered in the system of underground drainage ditches.
Shukron suspects rebels hid in this drainage ditch in the last days prior to the fall of the city to the Romans.
“It’s possible that this coin was placed in the pocket of a Jerusalemite hiding from the Romans in underground warrens,” said Shukron, “or maybe it rolled into the drainage ditch while the coin’s owner walked the streets of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.”