|Coins of the First Revolt
Discontent with the Roman rule erupted in full-scale
rebellion in 66 CE, and Jerusalem was once again controlled
by the Jews. In 70 CE, Roman troops under Titus reentered
the city, and the Temple was burned to drive out the rebels
who still held out there. Four years later, the last flicker
of the rebellion ended when the Zealots at Herod's old
Masada stronghold committed mass suicide rather than
surrender to the Romans.
In 66 CE, while
Nero was Emperor of Rome, the last Roman
Procurator Florian was
accused of stealing from the Temple. To mock him, protestors took up a
collection of coins for the relief of the "poverty-stricken" Procurator.
Showing a rather poor sense of
humor, Florian sent troops to put down the disorder. This led to a
full-scale rebellion. The Roman troops eventually surrendered, but were
Perutah, War Against
Rome, Year 2, 67/68 CE
Perutah, War Against
Rome, Year 3, 68/69 CE
These copper Perutot
(proo-TOHT) were minted in Jerusalem during the second and
third years of the war against Rome. The front is adorned
with a two-handled broad rimmed amphora (wine vessel); the
year-three variety adds a decorated lid. On the front, they
say "Year Two" and "Year Three", respectively. The reverses
feature a vine leaf and the Hebrew legend "The Freedom of
Zion". (Apparent differences in the reverse legends on these
coins are due to different portions of the reverse legend
being off the coin) (H. 661 and 664)
Perutah, War against
Year 2 67/68 CE
|Another (enlarged) example of the year-2 perutah, this one
has the full flan, with most of the legends on it.
By now, the rebellion had
grown to a full-scale war. The Jews in Jerusalem started minting their
own coins, with victory slogans, such as the two perutot above. But
there was also fighting among the Jews, as the more extreme elements
took control from (and killed) the moderate leaders, under whom the
rebellion had started.
Nero sent his distinguished
general, Vespasian, to stamp
out the Jewish rebellion. But political troubles at home led Nero to
commit suicide, and Vespasian headed back to Rome to claim the
Emperorship for himself, leaving his son Titus
in charge of the Judaean campaign.
Vespasian was ultimately
successful in becoming Emperor, and Titus was ultimately successful in
crushing the Judaean rebellion, including the (accidental?) burning of
the Temple in 70 CE; this is where the last of the Jewish rebels in
Jerusalem had holed up.
This left only a small band of
Jewish Zealots that were holed up in Herod the Great's old stronghold at
Masada. It took the Romans four more years to finally stamp out this
final ember of rebellion, since they had to build a ramp up the side of
the cliff before they could attack the Zealots. But when the Romans
finally broke into Masada, they discovered that the Zealots had chosen
mass suicide over surrender.
Vespasian, Emperor of
Rome, 69-79 CE
JUDAEA CAPTA DENARIUS
|This silver denarius is roughly the size of a U.S. dime.
The front features the portrait of the Emperor Vespasian,
and the back features a dejected Jewish woman seated beneath
a Roman "victory" trophy, with "IVDAEA" (JUDAEA) printed
To celebrate the glorious
victory of the might of the Roman Empire against the tiny Jewish nation,
Vespasian issued an extensive series of "Judaea Capta" coins. The above
coin is typical.
Titus, Emperor of
Rome, 79-81 CE
|I don't have any of Titus's Judaea Capta denarii, so
you'll have to settle for this ordinary silver denarius for
now. The front features the portrait of the Emperor Titus
(oldest son of Vespasian, who presided over the suppression
of the Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem in 70 CE), and the back
features an eagle.
Since Titus had been the
presiding general when Jerusalem fell, he too minted Judaea Capta coins
when he succeeded his father as Emperor in 79 CE.
Titus's younger brother,
Domitian, (who had no active part in the suppression of the Jewish
revolt) is also said to have issued Judaea Capta coins when he came to
power, trading on the family "honor" for his own glorification. In no
case is it clear beyond dispute, however, that Domitian's so-called "Judaea
Capta" coins actually represent victory over the Jewish nation.