The Redemption Coin

“For the Redemption of Zion”: Coin from the Fourth Year of the Great Revolt Discovered at the City of David’s Sifting Project

A bronze coin from the fourth year of the Great Revolt has been discovered at the archaeological sifting project at Emek Zurim National Park. The source of the soil is the excavations led by the Antiquities Authority at the City of David National Park, supervised by archaeologist Eli Shukrun.

Coins found in City of David Sifting Project – Photo: Israel Wissotzky

The coin, minted by Jews in the year 69 CE, right before the destruction of the Second Temple, features the words “For the Redemption of Zion” in ancient Hebrew script, with an image of a goblet under the inscription.

On the back side of the coin is an image of the Four Species and the words “Year Four” – representing the fourth year of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. Just a short time afterward, in the year 70 CE, the revolt was subdued and the Second Temple destroyed.

“The Jews minted coins throughout the entire period of the revolt, but in the fourth year of the five-year rebellion, we see that instead of the words “Freedom for Zion,” the coins were minted with the words “For the Redemption of Zion.” The difference between freedom and redemption expresses the change that took place, both in their mindset and in reality, at that time,” explains archaeologist Eli Shukrun. “Coins that were minted in the second and third years of the revolt are plentiful and easier to find, but coins from the fourth year are much rarer.”

The coins were discovered as part of the “Archaeological Experience” activity offered to the general public at the sifting project run by the City of David at Emek Zurim National Park. The activity invites participants, children and adults alike, to come to Emek Zurim and be archaeologists for the day. They sift through artifact-rich soil from excavations held by the Antiquities Authority at the City of David and throughout ancient Jerusalem.

The coin was found in soil extracted from the drainage canal at City of David National Park, which passed underneath Jerusalem’s main street at the end of the Second Temple period. According to the writings of Josephus Flavius, and based on archaeological evidence, the last remaining Jewish rebels hid from the Romans in this drainage canal.

“It is possible that this coin was in the pocket of one of the residents of Jerusalem who hid from the Romans in the tunnels underneath the city streets,” Shukrun says, “or perhaps it rolled into the drainage canal, dropped from the hand of someone walking down the streets of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.”

The rare finding was discovered at an incredible time – just as we begin to commemorate the Three Weeks, which start on the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, the date when Jerusalem’s walls were breached, and continue until the fast of the 9th of Av, the date that the First and Second Temples were destroyed.

Article Source: City of David National Park

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