Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Freedom coins" from A.D. 66-67 Jewish revolt against Roman rule discovered in Temple Mount cave

‘Freedom Coins’ from the revolt of 67-70 CE / (Photo credit: Eilat Mazar/Hebrew University)

As reported by Jewish News International, March 26, 2018:
Bronze coins, the last remnants of a four-year Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were found near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They were now discovered by Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar during renewed excavations at the Ophel, located below the Temple Mount’s southern wall.

These 1.5cm bronze coins were left behind by Jewish residents who hid in a large cave (21×42 ft.) for four years (66-70 C.E.) during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, up until the destruction of the Second Temple and the city of Jerusalem.

While several of the coins date to the early years of the revolt, the great majority are from its final year, otherwise known as “Year Four” (69-70 CE). Significantly, during that final year, the Hebrew inscription on the coins was changed from “For the Freedom of Zion” to “For the Redemption of Zion,” a shift that reflects the changing mood of the rebels during this period of horror and famine.

“A discovery like this—ancient coins bearing the words ‘Freedom’ and ‘Redemption’—found right before the Jewish Festival of Freedom, Passover, begins, is incredibly moving,” Dr. Mazar noted.

In addition to Hebrew inscriptions, the coins were decorated with Jewish symbols, such as four plant species mentioned in relation to the Sukkot holiday: palm, myrtle, citron and willow, and a picture of the goblet that was used in the Temple service.

Many broken pottery vessels, including jars and cooking pots, were also found in the cave. According to Mazar, it is remarkable that this cave was never discovered by subsequent residents of Jerusalem, nor used again after the Second Temple period. In this way the cave acts as a veritable time capsule of life in Jerusalem under the siege and during the four-year revolt against the Roman Empire.

These finds all date back to the time of the rebellion and were found in the Ophel Cave directly above a Hasmonean Period layer that was situated at the base of the cave. A more complete report of these findings will be published in the third volume of the Ophel excavations; the second is being published this week.

According to Mazar, the coins were well-preserved, probably because they were in use for such a short time. A similar number of “Year Four” coins were found near Robinson’s Arch, near the Western Wall, by Professor Benjamin Mazar, Eilat Mazar’s grandfather. He conducted the Temple Mount excavations right after Israel’s Six Day War, on behalf of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

The Ophel excavations are situated within the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park, which is managed by the National Parks and Gardens Authority and the Eastern Jerusalem Development Company. Funding was generously provided by the Herbert W. Armstrong College of Edmond, Oklahoma, whose students participate in the digs.
It's interesting to note the mention of Herbert W. Armstrong College; this college is affiliated with the Philadelphia Church of God, which is one of numerous organizations that split off from the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, and the WCG, under the direction of Joseph W. Tkach, moved in the direction of biblical Christianity, to the displeasure of those loyal to the teachings of Mr. Armstrong. One of the doctrines of Mr. Armstrong was a variation of British Israelism, which claims that the "lost" tribes of Israel became the people who formed the founding populations of the United Kingdom and United States. Mr. Armstrong's views were expressed in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, which went through various editions from 1967 on, with revisions made every few years to excise predictions that had been proven false as a result of Mr. Armstrong's faulty exegesis. The Worldwide Church of God changed its name to Grace Communities International in 2009. The Philadelphia Church of God is one of the splinter organizations that claim to be holding to the teachings of Armstrongism, which comprise a false gospel of works. See my post 25 years ago: Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, goes to the "wonderful World Tomorrow" (January 15, 2011).

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