Affordable Antiquities: Widow’s Mites coins hold history and a lesson

Exhibiting fair to fine condition, this selection of 75 small Judaean bronze coins of Alexander Jannaeus (nearly 2,000-year-old widow’s mites) sold for just $230 at Heritage Auction Galleries’ Jan 13, 2009, auction in New York, pricing each coin at just $3.07.

These coins are called “Widow’s Mites” because of the story in the Bible, which tells about a poor widow woman who gave her last two lepton bronze coins to the treasury of the Jewish temple.

The passage appears in Mark 12:41-44:

This bronze prutah (this one measuring 14.8mm and set as a pendant in 14-karat gold) is the smallest of Roman coins circulated during the biblical time of the New Testament. It’s priced at $495 at Sands of Time Ancient Art.

“And Jesus sat over against the 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, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples and saith unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, 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 of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.’”

These were not Roman coins but were in fact true Judean coins were minted during the inter-testamental period of Jewish history when Israel was a self-governing nation. These coins were minted under King and High Priest Alexander Jannaeus who ruled Israel from 103-76 B.C. ■


Read more: Affordable Antiquities: For less than $200 collectors are buying 2,000 years of human history

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