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Bar Kokhba Coins from Masada, 132-135 CE

Coins_from_Masada Bar_Kokhba_Coins_from_Masada

"The freedom of Israel"

Like footprints in the sand, coins can mark the presence of people who left no other remains. These coins, minted during the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (132–135 A.D.) led by the charismatic Bar-Kokhba, read either “year 1,” “year 2” or “year 3.” They display symbols typically found on coins of the revolt- lyres, two-handled amphorae and seven-branched palm trees. All are inscribed in the ancient Hebrew script used a millennium earlier, at the time of the Davidic and Solomonic monarchies—an expression of the rebels’ identification with a glorious past, when Israel was an independent nation. The inscription around the vessel on the third coin from the top reads “the Freedom of Israel.”

Second Jewish Revolt coins were found in Judean Desert caves, from the Wadi Daliyeh near Jericho in the north to Nahal Se’elim near Masada in the south. While Bar-Kokhba’s revolt traditionally is said to have ended with the capture of his fortress at Bethar, author Ze’ev Meshel disagrees. He contends that some rebels retreated to caves in the Judean Desert where, as in the earlier rebellions against Rome, guerrilla warfare persisted until Roman power eventually won out.

“Questioning Masada- Governments-in-Exile; The Judean wilderness as the last bastion of Jewish revolts,” BAR, Nov-Dec 1998.

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Posted in: Roman Period II

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