Sizing Range: 7-14
Denomination: Bronze Ma-ah Date: 133/134 CE
Obverse: vine leaf, Hebrew legend " freedom of Jerusaleml” around.
Reverse: seven-branched palm tree with two branches of dates, Hebrew legend “Shimon” across field.
Description: The second great Jewish uprising against Roman rule occurred in the latter part of the reign of Hadrian and spanned a period of about three years. (CE 132-135). A tense situation existed ever since the troubles at the end of Trajan’s reign when there were widespread revolts in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora. Beginning in CE 115 these affected many of Rome’s eastern territories, including Cyrenaicia, Egypt, Cyprus and even the recently conquered Babylonia. The trouble was not finally suppressed until CE 118 by which time Hadrian had succeeded Trajan on the imperial throne, but the feeling of unrest continued amongst the Jews and now came to be centered in Palestine itself. Matters were eventually brought to a head by the emperor’s prohibition of circumcision and his decision to found a pagan city – Aelia Capitolina – on the site of Jerusalem. The military revolt which broke out in CE 132 was led by Shim’ on Ben Cosiba, better known as Bar Cochba, meaning “son of the star”. The spiritual leader was Rabbi Akiba who seems to have regarded Bar Cochba as fulfilling the prophecy in Numbers (xxiv.17) – “I shall see him, but now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy the children of Sheth.” Little is known of the actually course of the war but the fighting was bitter and there were great losses on both sides. Letters written by Bar Cochba have been discovered in the Dead Sea caves and they reveal tantalizing glimpses of the drama which was played out during these years. They indicate that the Jewish leader had an important base at Engeddi and that as the war progressed there was growing disaffection among the troops. But only by utilizing a large legionary force under the command of the brilliant general Sextus Julius Severus were the Romans able to put down the uprising, and Bar Cochba perishing during a final stand at Bethar. As direct result of the war the new province of Syria Palestine was created with Julius Severus as its first governor, Legio VI Ferrata was transferred from Bostra to Caparcotna in Galilee; and Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city under the name Colonia Aelia Capitolina from which Jews were excluded. The coinage of the ‘Second Revolt’ or ‘Bar Cochba War’ is remarkably extensive with a large amount of output of silver tetradrachms and denarii and bronzes of various denominations. Some issues are dated according to the year of the revolt (years 1 and 2) and others are undated: the latter may represent the coinage of year 3. The denarii were mostly struck on the reused flans of Roman Imperial coins of the reigns of Vesasian through Hadrian. Hammering before the stricking of the Jewish designs obliterated the original types but often traces of the undertype remain. The same phenomenon may be observed on some of the base metal coins and the present example of the ‘medium bronze’ denomination may well have been overstruck on a Roman dupondius. The obverse depicts a vine leaf, which like a bunch of grapes may symbolize certain religious ceremonies. The accompanying legend dates the issue to the second year of the revolt. The palm tree on the reverse was originally the symbol of the Phoenician city of Tyre, but from the time of the First Jewish Revolt it came to be associated with Judea. The inscription (“Shimon”) names the leader of the revolt.