After the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish High Priesthood lost its center and authority. But the dream of rebuilding the Temple still smoldered. Sixty-two years after the Temple perished in flames, the Roman Emperor Hadrian proposed to build a new city on the site of Jerusalem, including a magnificent new temple dedicated to Jupiter on the site of the former Jewish temple. Hadrian's plans fanned this dream back to flame, and rebellion flared up. Simon Bar Kochba, a Jewish leader of massive physical strength (whom many believed to be the Messiah), rallied the Jews. Caught by surprise, the Roman forces in the region were defeated. Jerusalem and its surrounding area were once again under control of the Jews. A glorious series of coinage was minted by the Jews, containing legends proclaiming the "Freedom of Israel". These coins were usually struck over the top of an existing coin, and you can often make out the remnants of the old design under the new. But the concentrated might of the Romans was brought to bear on the region, and it became clear that Rome would eventually prevail. The rebellion was ultimately crushed, and Simon Bar Kochba was captured by the Romans, who executed him shortly thereafter.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of long forgotten empires. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural details that are often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. The struggle of the Jewish people to rule their homeland, as represented by this coin, has finally come to an end in modern times. This coin reconnects us with the past, with those who fought and struggled for their freedom against an oppressive empire almost two thousand year ago. - (C.459)