Herod Antipas, 29 AD Solar Eclipse Seen by Jesus Christ
Herod Antipas minted this coin in the city of Tiberias along the Sea of Galilee in 30-31 AD. His coinage from 29 AD to 31 AD is altered to show the solar eclipse of 29 AD. The Greek letter E or Epsilon has been changed into a pellet and crescent on the obverse and reverse to indicate the solar eclipse of 29 AD. The obverse reads "TIBE PIAC" or "Tiberias". The reverse states "of Herod the Tetrarch " with the date beside the palm branch. The coins of Herod Antipas were more sensitive to the Jewish prohibitions against graven images than his brother Herod Philip. The pellet and crescent incorporated into previous coin logos would have been obvious to the population at the time but may have not offended the temple priests. The palm and reed themes on the reverse have even been changed on the coinage from 29-31 AD. The palm branch is now fashioned as a legionary standard. The branches on the bottom are cut in the fashion and image as on Roman legionary standard coins. The palm branch is very imposing and erect. There are handles present at the base. The Herod Antipas coins of 33-34 AD do not display this militaristic image on the reverse. This erect palm branch was even stamped on older coins after this solar eclipse. The solar eclipse of 29 AD is even displayed as a partial eclipse with the pellet and crescent which may be more consistant of the view from Tiberias. The view from Caesarea Paneas was shown more as a total or hybrid solar eclipse. The point Herod Antipas is trying to communicate was that the solar eclipse was associated with war, namely war with the Nabateans. Antipas and his divorce from the daughter of King Aretas IV may have been a typical Roman ploy to engage the Nabateans into conflict.
Antipas would never display a military image on his coins which may be interpreted as against Roman authority. It is likely Rome considered raising auxillary Jewish units for an anticipated war with Nabatea. Jesus Christ referred to Herod Antipas as "that fox" in the Greek feminine. A crafty female canine in the first century AD is the same as a female dog designation today. I believe Christ is describing Herod Antipas as "a Bitch of Rome." He replied, Go tell that fox,' I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' Luke 13:32 NIV.
Jesus chose a militant disciple Judas Iscariot to spread the gospel truth. Judas instead chose to follow his own desire. He betrayed Jesus to manipulate our Lord into starting a war with Rome and the temple priests. I have little doubt Judas anticipated Jesus to respond in a military manner after his arrest. When Christ responded to the "Will of His Father" is when Judas committed suicide. Jesus portrayed himself as helping the Jewish people with the final goal of communion with God. It is interesting to think that on Palm Sunday 33 AD, Jesus Christ was welcomed into Jerusalem with palm branches in the above representation as a militaristic Jewish King. Jesus intentionally rode a donkey and not a horse into Jerusalem to show the population he was not coming as a king of their own "self will" for war with the Romans. He rode the donkey as a servant to carry, sacrifice and kill the "self will" that had separated them from the true and living God.
Photo Athena Numismatics