To modern archaeologists, ancient coins whisper secrets about life in their times. A bronze coin dating back to the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt recently uncovered in Jerusalem’s Old City makes no exception. Unveiled by the Antiquities Authorities (IAA) ahead of Lag BaOmer, the coin represents a unique finding. Jews celebrate Lag BaOmer as is that it marks the day the plague that killed Rabbi Akiva's 24000 disciples. Rabbi Akiva was a fervent supporter of Bar-Kokhba, and later interpretations also connect the holiday to the revolt.
Here’s a brief history on Bar Kokhba Revolt – Romans built a colony on the ruins of Jewish Jerusalem and constructed a temple dedicated to Jupiter on Temple Mount. The establishment of the Roman city and the construction of an idolatrous temple in place of the Beis Hamikdash, in addition to restrictive religious decrees, distressed the Jewish population that had remained in the city. This launched a widespread revolt against the Roman government under the leadership of Shimon Ben-Kosiba, known as Bar Kokhba. However, Bar-Kokhba rebels could never conquer the city. The small number of coins minted by them found in the city also bears witness to that. This is the first time that one of such coins was found in the area in 40 years.
Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, IAA head of the Coin Department explains that out of 22000 ancient coins found in the Old City, only four can be traced back to Bar-Kokhba and the rebellion against the Romans that he led around 132-136 CE.
Another feature that makes this coin very rare is that it is decorated with a cluster of grapes and the inscription “Year Two of the Freedom of Israel,” and the reverse side features a palm tree and the inscription “Jerusalem.” This is the only coin from the period of the Bar Kokhba revolt bearing the name “Jerusalem” ever discovered within the Old City of Jerusalem.
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