Herod Agrippa Coin
Date: 41-44 CE
Ruler: Herod Agrippa I
Mint: Judea (Jerusalem)
Obverse: Royal parasol with fringes with inscription, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΓΡΙΠΑ (BASILEOS [king] AGRIPA)
Reverse: Three heads of barley issuing from between two leaves on one side with the inscription, LϚ (Year 6 - 41/2 CE)
Size and Weight: 14mm, 1.35g
A Prutah is a Hebrew word that appears in the Mishna and Talmud. A loaf of bread was worth about ten prutot (plural). The Prutah was the most commonly minted coin of the Jewish kings and Roman procurators. Everyone, whether a believer or simply a lover of history or of numismatics, will find in these coins direct evidence of, and witness to, the last Jewish king of independent Judea of the Second Temple period almost two millennia ago exciting to own.
Herod Agrippa I (41-44 CE)
Herod Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod I and Mariamne the Hasmonean and the son of the murdered Aristobulus (both of whom Herod had killed). Thus he was both a scion of the Herodian as well as the Maccabee Dynasties. His vigor and his adroitness testified to the first, his personal charm, his popularity, and his intense Jewish feeling to the second.
The last golden age of Jewish Judea occurred during the brief reign of Herod Agrippa I. Even though Agrippa was educated in Rome, he was fiercely proud of his Jewishness. He befriended a great many people of influence in Rome and remained in the city for the battle of succession following the death of Caligula, serving as a neutral intermediary for the parties involved. At the end of the succession battle Agrippa’s childhood friend Claudius became Caesar. Claudius restored almost all of Herod’s land to Agrippa and granted him the title of king.
For three years Judea ceased to be a Roman province and was once again a semi-independent vassal kingdom within the Roman Empire. Despite the fact that he was not an observant Jew, Agrippa was loved by the masses for his Hasmonean pedigree, his charisma, and his intense Jewish patriotism. Agrippa was in every respect a Jewish king who sought the good of the Jewish cause throughout Judea. He attempted to build a third wall around Jerusalem that Josephus claims would have made the city impregnable, but Claudius ordered him to desist. This incident illustrates that despite Judea’s veneer of independence, Rome was still the real power.
With the death of Agrippa (who may have been poisoned by jealous political rivals) in 44 CE Rome re-established direct rule over Judea. The Jews of Judea openly showed their love for him during his lifetime and their feeling of bereavement after his death.