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Ancient Jewish Coins: Coins from Judaea Capta

(70 - 96 CE)

Soon after the Temple at Jerusalem was razed by the victorious troops led by Titus in 70 CE, his father - Emperor Vespasian - launched an extensive issue of coins commemorating the hard fought Roman victory over the tiny Jewish nation. The Judaea Capta series lasted for 25 years under Vespasian and his two sons who succeeded him as Emperor - Titus and Domitian. These commemoratives were issued in bronze, silver and gold by mints in Rome, the Roman Empire, and Judaea.

The basic design elements of the coins struck in Rome or in its Empire are a palm tree and a seated figure of a female (allegorical representative of Judaea) in an attitude of mourning. The depiction on these coins may reflect the prophesy of Isaiah (c. 700 BCE): “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen ... Thy men shall fall by the sword and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn, and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground” (Isaiah 3:8, 25-26). Other Judaea Capta varieties include the standing figure of the victorious emperor, a male captive, the goddess Victory, and Roman symbols of war.

The most common Judaea Capta coin is the silver denarius issued by Vespasian, picturing Judaea weeping beneath a Roman trophy, and the inscription IVDAEA. Other denarii of Vespasian show Judaea seated next to a palm tree, Judaea standing next to a palm tree with her hands bound, inscribed IVDAEA DEVICTA, a tiny Jewish captive next to Victory, Judaea seated beneath a palm tree with a Roman soldier standing alongside, etc. Some of these designs also appeared on gold coins.

Vespasian Silver Denarius 70/71 CE (Brom. 288)

Vespasian Silver Denarius 75/76 CE (Brom. 293)

Vespasian Silver Denarius 75/76 CE (Brom. 295)

Vespasian Silver Denarius 72/73 CE (Brom. 291)

Vespasian Gold Aureus 70/71 CE (Brom. 286)

Vespasian Gold Aureus 70/71 CE (Brom. 285)

New Judaea types on silver denarii and gold aureii, picturing Jewish captives, appeared during the reign of Titus.

Titus Gold Aureus 79 CE (Brom. 308)

Titus Gold Aureus 80 CE (Brom. 309)

The large bronze sestertius and medium as denominations comes in many variations, with captive females, males, Goddess Victory, and the Roman Emperor in various combinations.

Vespasian Sestertius 71 CE (Brom. 297)

Vespasian As 77/78 CE (Brom. 304)

Titus Sestertius 80/81 CE (Brom. 311)

Titus Sestertius 80/81 CE (Brom. 312)

Small bronze Judaea Capta coins also were struck.

Vespasian Quadrans 72/73 CE (Brom. 302)

Domitian Semis 80/81 CE (Brom. 313)

Only bronze Judaea Capta coins were struck in Caesarea , in the defeated Roman province of Judaea. These are much cruder than the Roman issues, and the inscriptions are in Greek rather than Latin. Designs feature the Goddess Nike writing on shield, Minerva with spear, shield and trophy, a palm tree, etc. Most were issued during the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE).

Titus, 70-81 CE (Brom. 276)

Domitian, 81-96 CE (Brom. 281)

Domitian, 92 CE (Brom. 283)

Sources: The Handbook of Biblical Numismatics