Six Unrecorded ‘Yehud’ Silver Coins
by Robert Deutsch
Very few Judean coins from the fourth century BC were known until 1966. Since then, however, the rich and fascinating material that has become known has changed the situation entirely.1 This article presents a unique Yehud silver drachm and five hemiobols which yet again expand the corpus of Judean fourth-century BC coins.
A Silver Drachm
Figure 1: AR; 11 mm.; 2.70g; axis: 1h. Obv.: Head of Athena r., wearing helmet with three olive leaves. Rev.: Owl standing r., facing; behind it on l. olive-spray. Paleo-Hebrew legend, retrograde, from lower l. upwards: "yhd".
The famous Yehud drachm in the British Museum2 is the only known parallel of a drachm in the repertory of the Yehud coinage. It differs from this coin in depicting on the obverse a male head to right wearing a Corinthian helmet and on the reverse a male divinity to right, seated on a winged wheel. With the exception of two hemidrachms, of the Judean series minted in the early Ptolemaic period,3 the majority of Judean coins are minute silver fractions. The unique drachm published here weighs 2.70 gr. It shows that the Judean series of the Athena/owl type also included drachms.
Figure 2: AR; 8mm; 0.40g; axis 12h. Obv.: Head of Athena (?) with ear-ring r., wearing helmet with concentric triangles. Rev.: Owl standing r., facing; behind it on l. lily. Paleo-Hebrew legend on r.: "dh[y]", ie, the first and third letters transposed.
This coin belongs to the Athena/owl type. Its style is rather crude. The head on the obverse seems to be a stylized representation of the head of Athena. The reverse, in which the first and third letters are transposed, is unrecorded.
Figure 3: AR: 7mm; 0.30g: |^ (Pl. 1:5-6). Obv.: Flower. Rev.: Bird (dove?) standing r., head turned backwards. Paleo-Hebrew legend above bird.
The flower is a schematic, stylized version of the lily (fleur-de-lis). Another stylized version of a lily occurs on a hemiobol with a falcon on the reverse.4 The bird (dove?) with head turned backwards on the reverse of our coin occurs regularly on the reverse of the horse head/bird with head turned backwards type.5 This coin thus establishes a connection (although not a die-link) between the two latter types.
Figure 4: AR; 7mm; 0.30g; axis: 11h. Obv.: Helmet with cheek-piece. Rev.: Falcon with spread wings; head and legend(?) off flan.
The falcon on the reverse of this coin is the same as that of the type with a small bearded male head to right wearing a crown (kidaris) thought to represent the king of Persia.6 The representation on the obverse of this coin differs in being larger than the bearded head with crown and apparenty depicts a Corinthian helmet.
Figure 5: AR; 7mm; 0.30g; axis: 11h. Obv.: Horn. Rev.: Falcon with spread wings, facing; legend (?) off fian.
The obverse of this coin is of a new type and depicts a horn, perhaps, of a gazelle. This is a hitherto unknown motive on the "Yehud" series and appears here for the first time. The falcon on the reverse is of a new variant, standing on his feet rather than hovering in the air as, e.g., on coin #4 or other parallels.7
Figure 6: AR; 7/8mm; 0.23g; axis: 12h. Obv.: Human head, facing. Rev.: Owl standing r., facing; the feathers of the head forming a beaded circle. Paleo-Hebrew legend: on r. downward "yehizqiyah", on l. upward "ha-peha yh(d)".
The closely set almost linked YH in what we propose to read as "yh(d)" has a parallel in another coin of Yehizqiyah the governor.8 It remains, however, uncertain whether on this specimen the third letter is off-flan or was initially missing. Another example, published by Meshorer, seems to preserve the legend... Yehizqiyah ha-peha.9 If this interpretation is correct, it provides proof that Yehizqiyah ha-peha was governor of Judea. This has always been assumed but seems now to be corroborated by the legend on this coin.