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"Coin of the Month" - Yehud AR Half Gerah, Extremely RARE, Near VF, "Flaming Incense" - see notes, 5th - 4th Century B.C.E. SOLD

  • Yehud AR Half Gerah, Flaming Incense
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Price:
$1,600.00
SKU:
jpp198
Maximum Purchase:
1 unit(s)


Product Description

AR YEHUD, HALF GERAH, INCENSE BURNING

Hendin 1063, Near Very Fine, 7.4mm, .30 gram, Struck Circa. 5th - 4th Century B.C.E.

Obverse: Bowl with flaming incense

Reverse: Falcon with wings spread, head to right, (YHD) in right field

 An EXTREMELY RARE and important type - read below - this coin is in nice condition for its type and clear in hand. Of about 25 known specimens (see here) we would estimate it to be in the top third for clear devices, especially the main "flaming incense"
 
This series including the Shofar yehud, the Incense yehud, the Ear Yehud and the Lily, has been dubbed the "Patriotic Series" by Fontanille and Gitler. We suggest it is more than that. The group of Shofar, Incense and Ear (Lily is the standard issue for the period, with nationalistic symbolism indeed) are the first Nationalistic Religious issue to appear on coins of Judaea and are related to the Jewish holidays.
 
It has not been understood what the purpose of flaming incense on the Yehud coin was.
 
The Shofar issue gives us our first clue. The Shofar was NOT the primary instrument used in the Temple for the service or Temple assembly. Those were the trumpets, as depicted on the silver Zuzim of Bar Kokhba. The Shofar was primarily used for the religious ceremonies of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the new year, to announce the jubilee and to assemble the nation for fasting and prayer when there was a lack of rainfall.
 
The depiction of the Shofar on a Yehud series coin, likely symbolizes one of these events.
 
We now look at the incense coin. The incense was the PRIMARY and most important service on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, culminating the high holy days. It was the only day of the year that the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies for the sole purpose of offering the incense. It was a day of prayer and one in which the Torah states that G-d would forgive the Israelites should they repent and complete the ceremonies of the day.
 
Thus we clearly see that these coins revolve around the Temple service specifically around the high holy days and as national symbols of repentance and service to G-d. It is no surprise that the "Ear" yehud joins the group, either symbolic of G-d's listening to the prayers of the Judaeans as he had promised to do, or of them resolving to listen to his commandments.
 
Considering this series' complete break with the typical pagan and imperial symbols often accompanying the small silver of Judaea, it is not hard to see the singularly religious aspect of this coinage, tangibly affirming and reinforcing the populations adherence to the service performed in the Temple in Jerusalem during the early second temple period.

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