Rare Bar Kokhba Revolt Coins Found

IAA uncovers coin cache in a Judean Desert cave

A rare coin from the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

A rare coin from the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Courtesy Emil Aladjem, IAA.

During archaeological survey work in a Judean Desert cave, members of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in cooperation with the Ministry of Heritage and the Archaeological Office of the Military Administration of Judea and Samaria, discovered four rare coins dating from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. One of the coins may refer to the famous Rabbi Eleazar Hamod‘ai.

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Revolt Coins

Discovered in the Mazuq Ha-he’teqim Nature Reserve, located in the West Bank, the four coins all date to the period of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (c. 132–136 CE), also known as the Second Jewish Revolt. One of the coins bears the name “Eleazar the Priest,” written in ancient paleo-Hebrew script as opposed to the square script, which was more commonly used during the period. According to the IAA, the coin may refer to Rabbi Eleazar Hamod‘ai, who played a significant religious role at the time of the revolt and lived in Beitar, a town not far from Jerusalem, that was the headquarters of the revolt. According to the Talmud, Eleazar died in Beitar, likely when it was captured by the Romans (y. Ta‘anit 4:5).

Bar Kokhba coin

The reverse of the Eleazar coin, imprinted with a bunch of grapes and writing. Emil Aladjem, IAA.

The four Bar Kokhba Revolt coins

The four Bar Kokhba Revolt coins. Oriya Amichai, IAA.

Along with Eleazar’s name, the obverse of the coin features an engraved date palm. The reverse of the coin depicts a bunch of grapes and a second inscription reading “Year One of the Redemption of Israel.” This date indicates the coin was minted in 132 CE. The survey also found three other coins that date to the Bar Kokhba Revolt and bear the name “Simeon.”

The Second Jewish Revolt was the result of years of conflict between Jews and Romans in the province of Judea following the destruction of the Second Temple (c. 70 CE) and the construction of the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina over the ruins of Jerusalem. The rebellion was led by Simeon Bar Kokhba, who was hailed by many Jews of the time as the messiah. The Jewish army achieved many early victories, including the conquest of Aelia Capitolina. In response, Emperor Hadrian (r. 117–138 CE) came to Judea himself with six full legions to crush the revolt. It is estimated that nearly half a million Jewish soldiers were slain or enslaved and at least three Roman legions suffered heavy casualties during the fighting. Following the war, Jews were barred from entering Jerusalem.

Ed. Note: Articles on Bible History Daily may reference sites or artifacts from contested, annexed, or occupied regions, which may be subject to international laws and conventions on the protection of cultural property.

Read more in Bible History Daily:

Scrolls Hidden During Bar Kokhba Revolt Discovered

Rare Coin from Bar Kokhba Revolt Discovered in Jerusalem

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

Jewish Revolts

Roman Cult, Jewish Rebels Share Jerusalem Cave Site

“Revolt” Coins Minted on Temple Mount

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