Solar Eclipses and Roman Domination during the Life of Jesus Christ
This post is a montage of previous posts in which each coin may be covered in greater depth. The Romans looked to the heavens for signs from their gods. Astronomical signs were interpreted differently within each culture and the Romans viewed solar eclipses as justification for war and conquering other lands. Jesus Christ was likely born on the Feast of Tabernacles in Bethlehem in September of 6 BC. Note the April 6 BC eclipse was also visible in Rome to a lesser extent. Herod the Great became ill in the 2 years preceding his death in 4 BC. Herod Archelaus his son effectively ran his kingdom as a servant of Rome during these 2 years before Herod the Great died. The above coin is minted by Herod Archelaus and is likely showing reference to the 3 solar eclipses seen before the death of Herod the Great. The central dot within a circle may represent a solar eclipse as this motiff has other common astronomical symbols placed there as well.
After this solar eclipse was seen in Rome in 5 BC, Herod the Great dies in 4 BC and Judea and the Galilee erupt in revolt. Varus, the legate of Syria takes his legions along with the Nabateans and conquers Israel. He crucified thousands from the Galilee outside of Jerusalem after Herod the Great's death.
The victories of Varus and the Nabateans were likely amplified with the perception their gods were with them by seeing this eclipse in 2 BC.
Herod Archelaus was deposed in 6 AD due to excessive cruelty to the Jewish people and Rome annexed Judea as a province. Note that this annexation was slow and methodical. The eventual goal was to control the spice routes from the far east which came thru Syria, Petra, and Israel. The current conflict and disarray with the death of Herod the Great and banishment of his son Archelaus had to be addressed not only from a political and military viewpoint but also thru the heavens.
Photo Shick Coins
Let's go back to 6 BC before all the Roman trouble which erupted after the death of King Herod. The Jews were waiting for a messiah, a messiah who would free them from corrupt Roman and Herodian rule. It just so happens the Star of Bethlehem was also interpreted by the Romans as sign. A sign of their divine rule over Judea. The rulers in Roman Antioch placed the Star of Bethlehem on a coin, with Judea represented as a ram looking back at it. One can even see a ray of light toward the ground on this version which was first minted in Antioch in 6AD. The Roman god Jupiter is on the front as the "god of the sky" The Romans pulled an astronomical sign from 12 years prior to show the population of Judea that their annexation was legitimate. Another minor revolt started after this and the Star of Bethlehem coin series continued on for almost 200 years after this. Unfortunately the symbols changed from a star or a comet to a solar eclipse in 55 AD. While the star represented prosperity under Roman Rule the later forms showing a star and crescent were meant to serve as a warning to rebelling against Roman domination and the hell of the subsequent war that would follow. The current star motiff continued from 6 AD to 14 AD. The likelihood of rebellion with the transition from Augustus to Tiberius was the theme till 14 AD. We do not see this theme again until Roman-Jewish relations fall apart in the 50's AD. Please note from other posts on my website that the Romans used astronomical signs on client coinage before their annexation of Britain as well.
PHOTO SHICK COINS
PHOTO ZUZIM COINS
We don't know whether the above coins are from the Roman Govornors Valarius Gratus or Pontius Pilate. They were minted in Jerusalem in 18/19 AD. Note the two prior solar eclipses in 17 and 19 AD seen in Rome and Jerusalem. The Roman Governor noted the events by changing the Greek Epsilon to a dot within a crescent. The date is represented by the "LE" at the base of the palm branch. The epilson on the lower coin is even a dot within a circle which shows a more total or annular event. The letters above represent Julia on the front and Tiberius Caesar is on the reverse in the wreath. This was a time of Roman economic domination in Judea and the Galilee. The City of Tiberius was being built and the Roman economic system was taking over the region. Jesus Christ was likely participating in Roman funded building projects in Sepphoris and Tiberius. Little did people know these cities would become refuges for the Jewish people after the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.
PHOTO FONTANILLE COINS
Here's where everything gets very interesting. This coin was described in detail before but it is from 24-25 AD and counterstamped after 30 AD. As Roman economic development continued in Judea and the Galilee more material wealth came to the area than anytime before. The Roman-Herodian funded Temple project continued to grow. Greco-Roman wealth and culture influenced all levels in Jewish society. The temple made daily sacrifices to Tiberius and coin production exploded after 29 AD. Mass amounts of coins with Roman religious symbols flooded the market. Historians have written that Pilate had these symbols produced to antagonize the Jews. I disagree, the Romans were smart and would not want to create rebellion. Instead Pilate felt comfortable producing these coins because so many Jews had already fallen under the Roman economic system. Religion and economy were very intertwined then and even today. This was just another subtle attempt in a long methodical plan to dominate the Jewish people and nation. Another major solar eclipse in 29 AD influenced the Romans to go after another major economic prize, the spice and incense trade from Nabatea or Petra. In 30 AD Bethsaida was renamed after the wife of Augustus. A Roman temple was built there. The Jewish nation was being Romanized at an alarming peaceful rate. Sepphoris, Tiberius, Bethsaida, Jerusalem, all Roman cities with a Jewish culture.
This was the big event! Rome felt so comfortable with how things were going in Israel they even likely convinced Herod Antipas to divorce his Nabatean wife to start a conflict with Aretas IV of Petra. Remember the Nabateans did the dirty work in the Galilee during the Wars of Varus after the death of Herod the Great. The Nabatean army sacked the Galilee and the Romans came and crucified the rebels. Memories of this were likey still present with the followers of Jesus and those still living in the Galilee.
PHOTO FONTANILLE COINS
You can read about these countermarks in more depth on my prior posts but to the left of the palm branch is a pellet within a crescent and the right is the Hebrew "chet". This is likely symbolic of the solar eclipse being in the eighth month of the Jewish calender. This is likely a Jewish countermark on a Roman coin. We forget a significant portion of the Jewish popluation liked and profited from the Roman machine. These countermarks may be an effort to show solidarity with the Jewish people and Rome for an upcoming conflict with Nabatea. Rome would frequently recruit auxillary units from provinces to invade a neighboring adversary. We have clear evidence Rome was dependent on the incense trade to keep large cities and buildings from becoming uninhabitable due the oders of daily living. Rome was in constant negotiation with the Nabateans much like the West is with the oil trade today. Petra was consider one of the nicest cities in the world at the time much like Dubai.
PHOTO ATHENA NUMISMATICS
The coin of Herod Antipas from 30-31 AD again has the Greek Epsilon changed into a pellet within a crescent to represent the solar eclipse of 29 AD. We even see his intention toward Aretas IV in that the reed theme is changed into a Legionary War Standard of Jewish King. Antipas would be very careful and not put an offensive item on a coin that would define him as an aggresive force outside of Roman control. He likely did this because he was forced to by Rome. The stories of Herod Antipas are of somebody completely under Roman domination. Considering his half brother Philip was even more Romanized, we can only deduce his divorce and marriage to Heroidias was not all his doing. We likely don't have all the details but state divorce was a political move and Jesus Christ called him a female fox knowing the true story. Antipas had to pretend to be Jewish but was a true Roman on most every level. Marriage and divorce were used in ancient Rome for political and economic reasons. Love, sex and slaves were easily purchased.
PHOTO ATHENA NUMISMATICS
Herod Philip coin minted this coin in Caesarea Philippi in 30 AD. The solar eclipse of 29 AD is represented were the dates would be between the columns. The big question is if all of the above is true why didn't the Jews, Romans and Nabateans not go to war before 36 AD. After the solar eclipse of 26 AD a preacher call John the Baptist tried to interupt the departure from the worship of the true and living God. He appealed to the growing sense the Jewish religion was becoming Romanized. He spoke out against Herod Antipas acting like a Roman and was likely beheaded at Machaerus after the solar eclipse of 29 AD.
Jesus Christ who claimed equality with God the Father, healed the sick, raised the dead spent the next 3.5 years after this solar eclipse helping people realize they did not have the willpower to fight the Roman war machine. The economy of ancient Rome was based on conquest and slavery. Jesus Christ came to sacrifice our will to bring us into eternal communion with Himself and God the Father. As he stood outside the pagan temple complex at Caesarea Philippi before his crucifixion he promised, the "Gates of Hell" will not stand against his Church. We alone do not conquer, it is Jesus Christ in all things. Christ alone is King.
It is likely the Jesus Movement caused enough instabilty that the Romans abandoned plans for invading Nabatea. The coins of Herod Antipas in 33-34 AD also have the Greek Epsilon changed to a pellet within a crescent. Could this represent the "crucifixion darkness" event. It is likely based on the Jewish Calendar and earthquake deposits that Jesus Christ was crucified April 3, 33 AD. His following Resurrection resulted in the Roman Empire slowly changing from a cult of emperor and pagan worship to a religion at it's heart worships the true and living God.