History Behind The Tribute Penny

04 Nov 2017  Sat

The reign of Emperor Tiberius saw many social and political changes. This was the time when Jesus of Nazareth was spreading the words of almighty to the masses. It was the era of Roman Empire when the subjects of the Roman emperor were giving tribute and other local Judaean taxes to the Empire.

This policy of taxation was questioned by many; a huge revolt was rising against it. It was during these collections, Jesus was questioned: "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" He replied, "bring me a penny, that I may see it". This money is also known as 'Render unto Caesar' and he gave this speech when the tribute penny was shown to him.

It is mentioned in King James Version of the gospel account. It was assumed this Tribute penny was the denarius during the reign of Tiberius. The above-shown coin is sold and collected as the 'Tribute Penny'. The gospel story is a vital factor in making this denomination of Tiberius attractive for collectors.

The inscription on the obverse of this coin reads “Tiberius Caesar Divi Avgvsti Filivs Avgvstvs” meaning “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus”. This inscription is claiming that Augustus was God. The reverse side of this coin shows a seated female, it is identified as Livia (Tiberius's mother) and as Pax (Ancient Roman Goddess).

Scholars have been debating that denarius was not circulated commonly in Judaea during Jesus’s lifetime. This tribute Penny may instead have been an Antiochian Tetradrachm, bearing Tiberius with August on the reverse or the denarius of August with Gaius and Lucius on the reverse. There are also references of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Germanicus coins which open up possibilities for Tribute Penny.

Learn more about Tiberius coinage and to know more about Roman coins click here.

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