The obverse, or face of the coin displays the head of Melqarth, who was the city god or "Baal" of Tyre, located in Phoenicia, or present-day Lebanon. He was created in the heroic style of the Roman god, Hercules. The reverse has an eagle standing on the prow, or front of a ship, symbolizing the Phoenicians' active seafaring trade throughout the Mediterranean. Next to the eagle is a club and the date the coin was struck, in this case a "K", which was year 24, or 103/2 BC. Coins of this type were made between 126 BC until shortly after the death of Christ.

Tyre was renowned for its rich purple dye, which was extracted from creatures of the sea and used in the coloring of cloth.

The shekel of this period is thought to have been equivalent to about two weeks' wages for a mason.

All male Jews were required to pay a yearly half-shekel temple tax. Although other coins from other lands were freely used in daily transactions, the purity of the silver in the shekel was considered superior. Only the shekel was accepted by temple authorities.

It was the Bible that made this coin indelible in the mind of the devout. In the Book of Matthew, chapters 26 and 27, Judas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus, agrees to deliver Jesus to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver, or thirty shekels. Ridden with guilt after Jesus is condemned to death, he attempts to return the money to buy freedom for Christ, to no avail. He then throws the money down and leaves the temple to commit suicide. The elders take the blood money and eventually buy a field in which to bury strangers.

Could this coin have been among those Thirty Pieces? There's a possibility. And that is the adventure and romance behind the hobby of coin collecting. An old, discolored coin that we hold in our hand can whisper to our minds of a time long, long ago. We can imagine our coin was once held by Socrates or George Washington; an American pioneer filled with hope, crossing the sweltering, dusty desert in his covered wagon; or a crusty pirate aboard his ship, admiring his ill-gotten reward. Each coin can tell a story, if you listen. And dream.


Copyright 2001 Dennel · All Rights Relinquished