Tag Archives: numismatics

Hidden treasure

The discovery of hidden treasure is fairly common in and near ancient sites. Individuals may not have a bank account, but they keep the funds they have stored in what they consider a safe place.

The photo below shows a clay jar with a hoard of silver coins displayed in the Samsun (Turkey) Archaeological Museum. These coins date from the Roman Imperial Period (69-79 A.D. and 238/244 A.D.). The earliest coins are not far removed from the time of the delivery of Peter’s Epistles to saints in Pontus and other Roman provinces (1 Peter 1:1). For more information about the delivery of Peter’s Epistles, see here.

For more information about the museum, check here and here.

Hoard of Roman coins displayed in Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman coins displayed in Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Photos such as this remind us of several Biblical passages. For today, consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy regarding what he was to teach those who set their hope on the uncertainty of riches.

 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)

Acts 25 — Photo Illustrations — Coins of the Rulers

We continue our look at the three chapters describing Paul’s stay at Caesarea Maritima — Acts 24-26. Three civil rulers are mentioned in these chapters. They are known not only from Luke’s account, but in the writings of Josephus.

Rapske says that Caesarea “was the administrative seat of the Roman procurators of Palestine.” He adds that in the time of the Flavians it became a Roman Colony (The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting; Vol. 3, The Book of Acts and Paul in Roman Custody, 155).

After the Romans occupied “Palestine” the Jews had both a religious and a secular tax to pay. The procurators (prefects) were responsible for collecting the taxes for Rome. Coins were minted by various procurators, including Felix and Festus. I have chosen one example from each to show the type of coin current in their time.

Antonius Felix — A.D. 52-59.

Felix is described as a hegemon in the Greek New Testament. Major English versions use the term governor (Acts 23:24, 26; 24:2, 22, 24, 25, 27; 25:14). Hemer says that hegemon is a general word to describe a ruler, “the formal Latin title of these governors of Judaea being procurator or praefectus” (The Book of Acts, 128).

The obverse (head) of the coin of Felix shows two oblong shields and two spears. The inscription is translated “Nero Claudius Caesar–son of Claudius. The reverse (tail) shows a “six-branched palm tree bearing two bunches of dates” with a Greek inscription above and below (Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins (1987), 117).

Coin of Roman Procurator Felix.

Coin of Roman Procurator Felix.

Porcius Festus — A.D. 59-61.

Porcius Festus followed Felix as governor or procurator. He is mentioned in each of the three chapters we are discussing. Paul had been left in custody by Felix, and Festus seems to be pleased to get the advice of King Agrippa when he visited Caesarea.

The coin of Festus, struck in A.D. 58, bears a Greek inscription within a wreath on the obverse. At the bottom is an X. The inscription reads NER ONO C (Nero). The reverse shows a palm branch with a Greek inscripton KAIC APOC (Caesar). The date LE means year five (Hendin, 118).

Coin of Porcius Festus.

Coin of Roman Procurator Porcius Festus.

Herod Agrippa II — A.D. 48-70.

Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great (Acts 12:1, et al.). Agrippa II was the tetrarch of Chalcis and of northern territories. Chalcis was the small but beautiful territory between the Lebanon and Antilebanon mountains. Later he was granted the territories that had been controlled by Philip and Lysanias. Agrippa lived until the end of the first century, and minted coins even to the time of the Roman Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96).

According to Hendin, the obverse shows a laureate bust of Domitian facing right. The inscription around it reads DOMITIAMOC KAICAP (Domitian Caesar). The reverse shows Nike standing right. One foot is resting on a helmet. She is writing on a shield that is resting on her knee. The inscription reads ETO KZBA AΓPIΠΠA (Year 27 of King Agrippa). The coin was struck in A.D. 83. (I do not know how best to harmonize the dates associated with the reign of Agrippa II.)

Coin of Herod Agrippa II with image of Domitian. Struck A.D. 83.

The coin above is copied from FORVM ANCIENT COINS.


I have only the original edition of Hendin’s Guide to Biblical Coins, but recommend the newer fifth edition of his book in the event that you have a genuine interest in Biblical coins. From my limited collecting experience, I can say that it is both fascinating and educational.

Hoard of coins from time of Ptolemy III discovered

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Thursday the discovery of a hoard of 383 bronze coins dating to the time of King Ptolemy III (ruled 246–222 B.C.). The well-preserved coins, found in the Fayoum about 50 miles southwest of Cairo, depict the Egyptian god Amun-Zeus on one side and the words Ptolemy and king in Greek on the other.

The Edfu Temple begun by Ptolemy III. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Edfu Temple begun by Ptolemy III. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The famous Alexandria Library was established in the 4th century B.C. by Ptolemy Soter I, or a few years later by his son. The Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek under the Ptolemaic rulers, beginning about 280 B.C. This Greek version was in common use in the first century. More than half of the quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament come from the Septuagint (Greek) version. For example, this is the version the man of Ethiopia was reading about the suffering servant:

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30 ESV)

Philip the evangelist began at that Scripture and preached Jesus to him.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer; various media reports.

Update: Todd Bolen has posted a beautiful photo here of Lake Qarun near the site of the discovery.