On Chanukah: 2,000-Year-Old Hasmonean ‘Messianic’ Coin Discovered in Shiloh

December 31, 2019

2 min read

A Chanukah miracle? During an archaeological sifting project over the holiday of Chanukah, archaeologists discovered a 2,000 year-old-coin from the Hasmonean dynasty. The find’s timing couldn’t be more appropriate as the holiday of Chanukah commemorates that very period in Jewish history when Judah led a Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Syrian rule.

“We discovered 20 coins last week and a half were Hasmonean coins,” archaeologist Scott Stripling told Breaking Israel News. One of those coins was of Alexander Jannnaeus – the second Hasmonean ruler. The coin had a star on it in what Stripling describes as a “messianic symbol” that relates to the prophecy of Jacob’s star in Numbers:

What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon: A star rises from Yaakov, A scepter comes forth from Yisrael; It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all children of Shet. (Numbers 24:17)

During his sifting project in Shiloh, an ancient city in the Samarian region of Israel, Stripling explains that he’s discovering approximately 5-7 coins each day using a more advanced technology that catches coins and other small finds that most other archaeologists miss. He does this using a process called ‘wet sifting’  which ” increases chances of finding coins and other small finds. Without it, archaeologists have thrown out about 50% of the small finds” he added.

According to Stripling, the coin dates back to the late 2nd Temple period. Alexander Jannaeus ruled from 103 to 76 BCE. And although Stripling admits that he discovers Alexander Jannaeus coins “virtually every day” discovering the coin on Chanukah, which celebrates those very Hasmoneans is extra significant.

“We found 154 coins. They are an important indicator of life and antiquity. They were used for generations long after the Maccabees” he explains. Even during Roman rule, these coins were still being used and circulated as a means of what Stripling hypothesizes to be a sort of passive resistance to Roman rule.


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