Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Common Factor in the Jewish Coins from the Hasmonean, Herodian and Bar Kokhba Periods

The common factor in all these coins (including those from the Galilee) is that there is no symbology (textual or graphical) that shows anything to do with sacrifice of animals, or an altar for burnt offerings, or of the high priest, or of the priests. Yet Josephus, the rabbis, Jewish and Christian scholars say that the priests and animal sacrifice were the most important feature of Judaism.  Priests in charge of the temple during these times was fraudulently written into history by Josephus and the rabbis.  Jewish and Christian scholars accept Jewish history as it is written in Josephus.

Many symbols shown on the coins are related to the sanctuary and worship, in particular the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews celebrated the coming of the Spirit.  This was the domain of the prophets.  The sanctuary facade with the holy place at the centre is common on a number of coins.  The coins all support my view that from the time of Judas, animal sacrifice by the priests had ceased and that the priests were exiled from the temple. Up to the time of the revolt by the priests the coins were often depicted as pro Roman with many showing the heads of the emperors. 

After Nero defeated the rebel priests he granted freedom to the prophets and the Jewish people. Then the Jews could mint their coins of peace without an emperor's head and in a prophetic style.  This went on for four to five years.  These coins were of the highest quality ever produced.  They were minted openly and professionally with the full support of the Romans. The relations with Rome couldn't have been better.  

When Titus destroyed the temple, the good relations with the Romans ceased. Revolts were provoked.  The coins of the Bar Kokhba revolt continued the same prophetic style of coin without images of an emperor.  But this time it was in defiance of the Romans.  They were minted secretly in one or two backstreet workshops.  The flans for every Bar Kokhba coin came from previously issued coins which were overstamped.  (See Judea and Rome in Coins, page 125).  Simon (Bar Kokhba) and Jerusalem are named on the Bar Kokhba coins. An Eleazar the priest is mentioned on some coins of the first year of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, but not later. This would have been a priest who converted to the prophets, like Judas Maccabeus. (Moses was a prophet although entitled to be a priest like his brother Aaron.)  

The prophetic theme is shown on the coins of all three periods.  The Bar Kokhba tetradrachm depicts the facade of the temple sanctuary and the four species (including the fruit of the lemon tree (the etrog) and a branch of a palm (the lulav).  At the centre, the facade shows the entrance to the sanctuary and possibly a piece of temple furniture in the holy place.  This was a coin that illustrated the festival of booths when the holy spirit came down.  

The Bar Kokhba war was a real revolt by the prophets.  It was triggered by Vespasian's destruction of the temple.  It was a revolt which had wider ramifications in Egypt and in Rome where the prophetic movement had become embedded.  Prophets were hunted down wherever they were in the Roman world. Vespasian had started the killing spree and it was continued by others, such as Hadrian. They were killing people who believed in the Spirit and the prophets.  For Vespasian the killing was simply an excuse to cover-up his greed in destroying the temple for wealth. Many leading Romans regarded the prophets as atheists, because they didn't worship 'real' gods. Nero was never involved in persecution of the prophets, but he did sort out the priests.  He had been a friend of Agrippa and so had his mother.  They were both more than just interested in the prophetic movement which had come to Rome during the rule of Tiberias.  

Evidence of the prophets being in Rome is given in Acts with people worshipping in the Spirit.   In Italy the members of this movement were known as CHRISTIANOS or anointed ones, as in the Pompeii inscription.  That there was a prophetic movement is indicated in the Didache and Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho.  Chapter 7 of the Dialogue is about prophets who spoke by the Divine Spirit. This implies an earlier form of belief that was present in Rome. That belief was the same as existed among the Jews around the first century CE. Chapter 7 even has the title: The Knowledge Of Truth To Be Sought From The Prophets Alone.  (I commented about this on the blog of professor Larry Hurtardo. He either could not or would not answer, and deleted my comment.)

Hurtado and other scholars have to face-up to the fact that there was a Jewish prophetic belief in the Spirit that had established itself among the general population of Rome and elsewhere in Italy.  It was a belief that immediately preceded the establishment of what the scholars call early Christianity which was developed out of that former religion.  We see the beginnings of that development in Josephus's Antiquities 18 where Jesus is introduced (rather interpolated) in the Testimonium.  This was a way of integrating what had become an awkward group of believers in the Spirit into the Roman system of belief in sacrifice and human gods. They couldn't then be considered as atheists.