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Archeology/Jerusalem: J. King – Recent Discoveries on the Temple Hill at Jerusalem (1884 PDF)

Ancient Revelations:

Coins relating to the Bais Hamikdash | Nero, Roman Imperial Coins

Coins of the First Revolt

Discontent with the Roman rule erupted in full-scale rebellion in 66 CE, and Jerusalem was once again controlled by the Jews. In 70 CE, Roman troops under Titus reentered the city, and the Temple was burned to drive out the rebels who still held out there. Four years later, the last flicker of the rebellion ended when the Zealots at Herod’s old Masada stronghold committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.

In 66 CE, while Nero was Emperor of Rome, the last Roman Procurator Florian was accused of stealing from the Temple. To mock him, protestors took up a collection of coins for the relief of the “poverty-stricken” Procurator.

Showing a rather poor sense of humor, Florian sent troops to put down the disorder. This led to a full-scale rebellion. The Roman troops eventually surrendered, but were killed anyway.

Perutah, War Against
Rome, Year 2, 67/68 CE
Perutah, War Against
Rome, Year 3, 68/69 CE
These copper Perutot (proo-TOHT) were minted in Jerusalem during the second and third years of the war against Rome. The front is adorned with a two-handled broad rimmed amphora (wine vessel); the year-three variety adds a decorated lid. On the front, they say “Year Two” and “Year Three”, respectively. The reverses feature a vine leaf and the Hebrew legend “The Freedom of Zion”. (Apparent differences in the reverse legends on these coins are due to different portions of the reverse legend being off the coin) (H. 661 and 664)

Perutah, War against Rome,
Year 2 67/68 CE
Another (enlarged) example of the year-2 perutah, this one has the full flan, with most of the legends on it. (H. 661)

By now, the rebellion had grown to a full-scale war. The Jews in Jerusalem started minting their own coins, with victory slogans, such as the two perutot above. But there was also fighting among the Jews, as the more extreme elements took control from (and killed) the moderate leaders, under whom the rebellion had started.

Nero sent his distinguished general, Vespasian, to stamp out the Jewish rebellion. But political troubles at home led Nero to commit suicide, and Vespasian headed back to Rome to claim the Emperorship for himself, leaving his son Titus in charge of the Judaean campaign.

Vespasian was ultimately successful in becoming Emperor, and Titus was ultimately successful in crushing the Judaean rebellion, including the (accidental?) burning of the Temple in 70 CE; this is where the last of the Jewish rebels in Jerusalem had holed up.

This left only a small band of Jewish Zealots that were holed up in Herod the Great’s old stronghold at Masada. It took the Romans four more years to finally stamp out this final ember of rebellion, since they had to build a ramp up the side of the cliff before they could attack the Zealots. But when the Romans finally broke into Masada, they discovered that the Zealots had chosen mass suicide over surrender.

Vespasian, Emperor of Rome, 69-79 CE
This silver denarius is roughly the size of a U.S. dime. The front features the portrait of the Emperor Vespasian, and the back features a dejected Jewish woman seated beneath a Roman “victory” trophy, with “IVDAEA” (JUDAEA) printed underneath her.

To celebrate the glorious victory of the might of the Roman Empire against the tiny Jewish nation, Vespasian issued an extensive series of “Judaea Capta” coins. The above coin is typical.

Titus, Emperor of Rome, 79-81 CE
I don’t have any of Titus’s Judaea Capta denarii, so you’ll have to settle for this ordinary silver denarius for now. The front features the portrait of the Emperor Titus (oldest son of Vespasian, who presided over the suppression of the Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem in 70 CE), and the back features an eagle.

Since Titus had been the presiding general when Jerusalem fell, he too minted Judaea Capta coins when he succeeded his father as Emperor in 79 CE.

Titus’s younger brother, Domitian, (who had no active part in the suppression of the Jewish revolt) is also said to have issued Judaea Capta coins when he came to power, trading on the family “honor” for his own glorification. In no case is it clear beyond dispute, however, that Domitian’s so-called “Judaea Capta” coins actually represent victory over the Jewish nation.