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Ancient Jewish Coins: The Widow’s Mite

(30 BCE)

The story of the “Widow’s Mite” tells how, in 30 CE, “Jesus sat over against the (temple) treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites ... And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them ... that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:41-44). The most likely candidates for the “two mites” are the only small bronze Jewish coins that were available - the common prutahs issued by the Hasmoneans (c.130 - 40 BCE). Even though these were issued about 70 - 160 years before this event, it should be noted that coins often circulated for hundreds of years in ancient times.

Sources: The Handbook of Biblical Numismatics