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Solar Eclipse of AD 49 and the Jewish Revolts

The above star on the reverse likely represents the annular solar eclipse of AD 49 which was directly over Antioch in Roman Syria. Claudius is on the obverse and this coin was minted in Antioch. Note the star changes to a star and crescent motif with partial solar eclipses over Antioch. Please see the prior post “Antioch Ram Coin Under Nero 55 AD” The superior crux of the wreath is frequently a place for astronomical symbolism on Roman coinage from the Syrian and Spanish provinces where expansion and wars occurred.

The Jacob and Simon Galilean Revolt AD 46-48 was essentially the precursor to the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome in AD 66. Both of its instigators were quickly executed by the Roman procurator Tiberius Alexander in Judea. The solar eclipse of AD 49 could easily be interpreted as the “gods” supporting Roman domination and as a warning against further rebellion. In Antioch we see the solar eclipse symbolism change on a later coin series under Nero with the ram coins and warnings against further Jewish uprisings.

Claudius, minted in Tiberias, Photo Zuzim

We even see coinage from Herod Antipas recast to reflect the authority and royalty of Emperor Claudius from the city of Tiberias in AD 53-54. The palm frond was also displayed on a coin of Antipas from AD 39-40 welcoming Caligula. What would be so infuriating to the Jewish population of the Galilee would be Caeser’s name on a previous Jewish coin in the above picture. Note these motifs were well known and to see the emperors name on a coin were the Tetrarch Antipas was once written would help to start the revolution of AD 66.

The royal palm frond is symbolic for the messianic fever which gripped Israel in AD 33 with Jesus Christ. We see this palm frond start with the coin of Antipas from AD 33-34.

Coin of Herod Antipas, minted shortly after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ

Photo 1 Ken Dorney

Photo 2 Zuzim

Photo 3 Fontanille Coins

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