The First Judean Coins
(4th Century B.C.E.)
Judaea was part of the Persian empire from the 6th - 4th centuries BCE. During the latter part of this period, small silver coins were struck by an autonomous Jewish authority with the permission of the Persians. Many copied the owl design of the popular Athenian silver coins, but the Greek inscription “AQE” was replaced by an ancient Hebrew legend “YEHUD,” the Persian name of the Province of Judaea.
Owl Coin with YEHUD (Herbst 1061)
Other examples feature a portrait of the Persian king or the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy I (following the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE); some are inscribed in Paleo-Aramaic “Yehezqiyah the Governor” (the last governor of Persian Judaea), etc.
Owl-type and other tiny silver coins were also minted in Gaza in this period; they are often inscribed with the Phoenician “M” (perhaps for the deity Marna, whose temple was in Gaza) or “AZ” (Azah).
Coin of Gaza (Samarian p.58)
Source: The Handbook of Biblical Numismatics