Upon the death of his father, King Herod the Great, the kingdom was divided amongst his sons, including Herod Antipas, his brother of Herod Archelaus, and his half-brother of Philip I. Educated in Rome along with his brothers, Antipas, a nickname derived from “Antipatros,” ruled the lands of Galilee and Paraea. Here, in 17 A.D., he established his own capital city, Tiberias, named in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. However, during construction of the city, an old Jewish cemetery was discovered. The disturbance of this sacred resting place created an uproar amongst his subjects, and for a long time no pious Jew would enter Tiberias, which was populated with Greeks and Romans. Yet despite his behavior, Antipas attempted to pose as a Jewish leader, celebrating religious holidays in Jerusalem. However, few believed the sincerity of his piety, and Jesus is quoted as comparing him to a fox. Antipas is also famously recorded in the Bible as the king for whom Salome danced, demanding the head of St. John the Baptist on a platter in return. By 37 A.D., Agrippa had become king of the territories controlled by Philip. When Antipas sought to wrest authority out of Agrippa’s hand into his own, the powers in Rome decided against him and exiled Antipas to Gaul in 39 A.D.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or 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 might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a relic from the reign of Herod Antipas, passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck. - (C.609)