CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - A teenage volunteer sifting through rubble discarded by the Waqf (Islamic religious trust) from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City found a silver half-shekel dating to Second Temple times.
Bar Ilan University archaeologist Prof. Gabriel Barkay, who has headed up the project from its inception, said Second Temple Jewish officials may have minted the ancient coin in the first year of the revolt against the Romans in 66-67 AD.
While some 3,500 coins from the Persian to the Ottoman periods have been retrieved from the rubble, this was the first Second Temple coin discovered in the truckloads of earth dumped in the Kidron Valley by Islamic officials.
A branch with three pomegranates and the inscription, "Holy Jerusalem" adorns one side of the coin. The other side, decorated by a chalice, is inscribed "Half-Shekel."
In biblical times, Jews, regardless of their station in life, paid a half-shekel annually toward the building and maintenance of the Temple.
A second coin, bearing the portrait of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the Syrian Greek who ruled from 175 to 163 BC, was an especially timely find.
With the Festival of Hanukkah beginning Sunday evening, the discovery of a coin used during the time when the events took place affirms the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
Epiphanes and his army looted the Temple, erected a pagan statue inside and sacrificed a pig on the altar.
A band of Jewish freedom fighters, led by Judas Maccabee, recaptured, cleansed and rededicated the Temple.
Hanukkah is also referred to as the Festival of Lights because one tiny vile of sanctified oil, which should have lasted just one day, burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare more oil for the Temple menorah.
Source: The Jerusalem Post