For two thousand years, scholars and researchers have looked for archaeological evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This coin of Herod Antipas was minted post crucifixion in Tiberias along the Sea of Galilee in 33-34 AD. This is assuming Jesus Christ died on the cross on Friday April 3, 33 AD. The crucifixion darkness event was not a solar eclipse as it lasted for hours and was documented in pagan sources as over the Eastern Roman world. Scripture records how Herod Antipas mistreated and disrespected our Lord. How did Herod Antipas respond to the events after the crucifixion and resurrection? The above coin gives us insight into the JudeoRoman politics after Jesus rose from the dead.
The obverse of the above coin has the place name of the city of Tiberias. Founded by Herod Antipas in 20 AD, this was the administrative capital of the Galilee and the territory in which Jesus Christ lived during his Ministry. The star above Tiberias is unique for the series and is only present on the largest denomination. So what does this star mean? I propose it is symbolic in nature and does not represent a current astronomic event. In the Roman coinage of the era, the star is symbolic of divinity. Augustus would regularly place a star above his head indicating a symbolism with the comet of Julius Caesar. The star would be symbolic of approval from the heavens of the validity of the reign of Augustus Caesar. We see this star repeated on the coins of Herod the Great. It denotes Roman authority behind the rule of the Herods. But wait there is something different about the placement of this star.
The superior junction of the wreath is a common place to put stars, comets, solar eclipses and other astronomical events. Note on this coin the superior motiff is a junction of the branches of the wreath. The star is placed within the temporal nature of the place name. The star is with the people of the city or region of Tiberias.
The reverse is more exciting. The palm branch configuration has been changed from the 29-31 AD series. Bird iconography and military or royal standards have similar meanings. The 29-31 AD coin series of Antipas have the palm branch in a military or aggressive "feathers out" pattern. In the 33-34 AD series the "feathers are pruned up" in a manner indicative of a royal court standard.
The horn type object has been classified as a cornucopia. A cornucopia is a pagan symbol. Antipas showed sensitivity and tried not offend the devout Jews of the day with offensive imagery on his coins. It is more likely this object is a "shofar" or ram's horn. The difference between a cornucopia and a shofar is a "lid and a mouthpiece." Note the bell type end of the horn has been modified to change the sound much like brass instrument players today use objects to change the resonance of the horn. Note also the horn is engraved or decorated.
Why would Antipas place a shofar "out of the blue" below the date on his coins? The date is in Greek flanking the palm branch on either side. Note there are three dots below the date on the other side of the branch. This is on other coins of the series as well. Let's think what a shofar and three dots meant to a first century Jew before the destruction of the Second Temple. The Book of Exodus Chapter 19 explains this association. In the third month on the third day after the Israelites left Egypt, God announced His Presence to Israel on Mt Sinai. The shofar is used to introduce the Presence of God with clouds, thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai. The Israelites were required to wash themselves and abstain from sexual relations before the Presence of God on Mt Sinai.
After the death of our Lord on the cross the Temple curtain was rent in two, exposing the Holy of Holies before the people worshiping in the temple. This event alone, along with the resurrection of the dead and on the third day the rising of the Lord did not go unnoticed by Antipas and the Jews. Antipas communicated the "Presence of God with Man" on this coin. The shofar is announcing the date of 33 AD as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Could the star above Tiberias be representative of the Star of Bethlehem which is now among the people of the Galilee? Is the palm branch pruned with reverence to the royalty of Jesus as the Son of God?
Note that this coin may also be interpreted differently from the perepective of the Romans. Tiberius Caesar was also the "son of god" His step father Augustus was now deified and one may interpret the coin as Roman propaganda to counter the Resurrection story. It even further supports the validity of the message of this coin describing the events of the Resurrection in Israel. Antipas was masterful in designing a coin that would "play" both sides of the Resurrection of our Lord.
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Note the above coin from Herod Philip minted 33-34 AD in Caesarea Paneas. Herod Philip also placed a star below the date in the center of the temple of the reverse. "L lambda Z" in the columns is the date. In 30-31 AD it was a solar eclipse symbol. The star is symbolic of God in the temple and among man. The front of the coin shows Tiberius Caesar with a palm branch. The same themes as described with the coin of Herod Antipas are present on this coin. Interestingly this coin is the same series as the coin possibly showing earthquake damage from 33 AD described in a featured post. Note the star and the pellet are interchangeable.
PHOTO: Zurqieh Coins