Before the Babylonian exile (see Deyling, Observ. 3. 222 sq., also in Ugolini Thesaur. 28) the Hebrews had and knew no regularly stamped money, but generally made use of a currency in traffic consisting of uncoined shekels (or talents) of silver, which they weighed out to one another (Ge 23:16; Ex 22:17; 2Sa 18:12; 1Ki 20:39; Jer 32:9 sq.; comp. Pliny, 33:13), just as among other nations in most ancient times uncoined metal served for money (AElian, Var. Hist. 12:10; Strabo, 3. 155), and even to this day the Chinese make their commercial transactions by means of silver bars (Rosenmüller, Morgenl. 1:98; see Sperling, De nummis non cusis, in Ugolini Thesaur. 28). Among the earliest Hebrews, but not afterwards (Crusius, De origin ib. pecunioe a pecore ante nummum sign. Petropol. 1748), an ox or other animal (comp. Pliny; 33:3) was traded instead of cash (see Michaelis, De siclo ante ex'l. Babyl. in the Comment. Soc. Gott. 2:1752, § 1). Yet already in the time of Abraham there circulated in hither Asia, as it seems, silver ingots (קשַׁיטָה, Ge 33:19; Jos 24:32; see Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 1241; Bertheau, p. 24; Tuch, Gen. p. 399, 472) of a determined weight, which was probably indicated by marks (Ge 23:16; Ge 43:21) stamped upon them (so the Targum of Jonathan explains the former passage by פרקמטיא, i.e. πραγματεία). SEE KESITAH. Even under the regularly organized Hebrew state small silverpieces (comp, ἀργύρια, silverling) may have passed in exchange (as among their Phoenician neighbors; but see Herod. 1:94; Philostr. Her. 10:1), although destitute of national authority (see 1Sa 9:8; comp. Ex 30:13; Le.. 27:3 sq.; De 14:26), the bars being weighed only in payment of large sums (comp. 2Ki 12:4), although modern Oriental merchants weigh out even regularly coined money (Volney, Voyage, 2:315). SEE MERCHANT. For transportation and preservation, money, as at this day in the East, was deposited in bags (2Ki 5:23;
12:10; see Harmor, Observ. 3. 262). See, generally, Bertheau, Gesch. d. Isr. p. 14 sq.) SEE BAG.
After the exile Persian money was most current, especially the daric (q.v.), then Graeco-Syrian of the Seleucidae (q.v.), till the time (B.C. 143) of prince Simon (q.v.) the Maccabee, who secured from the Syrian monarchs the right of a native coinage (1 Maccabees 15:6), and issued shekels (q.v.), both' whole and half of which several (some eight) are still extant. The following coin has on one side, in Samaritan, the name of Simon, and some emblems, upon which it is very difficult to pronounce, and on the other "The Deliverance of Jerusalem," with the palm-tree and two vases. There are other coins, bearing on one side the inscription, in Samaritan, "Simon," on the other, "Deliverance of Jerusalem," which are supposed to have been struck by Simon Barcochab, not by Simon Maccabaeus. There are marks on these coins of their having been struck twice, once by the Roman authorities, and again by the Jews; there are also examples of Greek and Roman coins of these double types applied one upon the other. A leaf and vase appear to be the general symbols of the coins struck in Judaea during the dominion of the high-priests, and the coins themselves are for the most part indifferently executed. Those of Alexander Jannaeus are all of bronze, as are also the coins of Antigonus; these last bear the symbol of a cornucopia, the type invariably found upon the coins of this prince. From the inscriptions on the above coins, it is supposed that Antigonus wished to declare that it was in the capacity of descendant of Mattathias that he was high-priest. The coins of the Judaean kings, from Herod the First, are all of bronze, with the exception of a silver one assigned to Herod the Third, which is supposed to be unique. Of Agrippa the Second there are many coins, struck after the destruction of Jerusalem, which present on their reverses portraits of the reigning emperors. The dates on these coins denote the year of the prince's reign. (See each of the kings in their order.) Eventually, however, these Maccabaean shekels passed out of circulation on account of foreign traffic (being especially supplanted by Tyrian mintage, according to Bertheau, p. 45 sq.). SEE MONEY-CHANGERS. In the time of Christ Greek currency had mostly prevailed (computed, probably, at a depreciated rate), of which the following pieces are mentioned: the drachma (q.v.), which was the unit of value; the didrachma (q.v.), or double drachm (δίδραχμον, Mt 17:24); and the stater (q.v.), or tetradrachm. The smallest coin was the lepton (λεπτόν, scale, "mite," Mr 12:42; Lu 12:59), which was the seventh part of a gold piece (χαλκοῦς), or half the Roman quadrans or "farthing." See MITE. Under the Roman rule the imperial currency naturally obtained in Palestine (see Mt 22:17-21), so that thenceforth the Roman becomes the standard (so in the Mishna, Baba Mezia, 4) of Jewish valuation (see Strong's Harm. and Expos. of the Gospels, Append. 1). Single coins of this currency named in the N.T. are the following:
(a) The denarius (q.v.), in Greek denarium (δηνάριον, Talm. דַּינָר, A. V. incorrectly "penny"), the usual unit of popular estimation, corresponding about to the modern shilling;
(b) The assarius (from as [i.e. aes, brass], which was strictly the basis of the Roman monetary system, like the modern penny), in Greek assarium (ασσάριον, Talmudic usually אַיסָּר), of copper (Mt 10:29; Lu 12:6), originally one tenth, then one sixteenth the denarius; it bore the effigy of the emperor during whose reign it was struck. SEE PENNY. (Comp. Kype, Observ. 1:57 sq.; Barth, Das rom. As und seine Theile, Lips. 1834.)
(c) The quadrans (or quarter), in Greek kodrantes (κοδράντης, Mt 5:26; Mr 12:42), which was one quarter the as, a copper coin. SEE FARTHING. The Attic drachma passed as equivalent to the Roman denarius. There are also occasional references to other and smaller coins (see the Mishna, Maaser Sheni. 2:9; 4:8; Kiddushin, 1:1; 2:1), e.g. the obolus (מעָא, mea') = 4 assaria; the pondiun (פּוֹנדַיּוֹן) = 2 assaria; besides certain antique values, e.g. the zuz (זוּז) = shekel, or .25 the stater; the perutah' (פּרוּטָה) = piece of money in general, etc. (see Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 175, 1235, 1754, 1812; Waserus, De nummis Hebraeor. 1. 2, c. 23). Coins were punctured and hung as nowadays around children's necks for ornament (Mishna, Chelim, 12:7). (See Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 431 sq.; Klemm, De nummis Hebraeor. Tubing. 1730; Eisenschmidt, De ponderib. et nensuris vett. Romans Gresc. et Heb. ed. 2, Argent. 1737; Wurnm, De ponderum, nummorum et mensura. rationib. ap. Romans et Graec. Stuttg. 1821.) SEE MONEY.
The intrinsic worth of money in the various periods of the Hebraeo-Jewish antiquity is very difficult to estimate from the occasional intimations of mercantile value (see Michaelis, De pretiis rer. ap. Hebr. ante exil. in the Comment. Soc. Gott. 3. 145 sq.), especially as the measure and quality of articles thus estimated is also uncertain (see Bockh, Metrolog. Untersuch. p. 420 sq.). SEE METROLOGY. Examples somewhat indicative of this point, however, are the following: in times of plenty, 1 ephah of wheat sold for 1 shekel, and 2 ephahs of barley for 1 shekel (2Ki 7:3; comp. Polyb. 1:15); an Egyptian horse in Solomon's time was worth 150 shekels (1Ki 10:29); 30 shekels were generally given for a slave (Ex 21:32; comp. Ge 37:28); for 10 shekels a chaplain could be hired in the times of the Judges (Jg 17:10). But in flush times prices were often much higher, e.g. a choice vine-stock was held at 1 shekel (Isa 7:23); a threshing-floor, with the oxen, cost David 50 shekels (2Sa 24:24); a single vineyard brought Solomon in 1000 shekels yearly (Song 8:11). Other less definite values may be collected as to fancy matters (Jg 17:4; 1Sa 9:8; Ne 5:15). In later times a learned slave might be bought (according to Greek and Roman money) for 1 (Alexandrian) talent (Joseph. Ant. 12:4, 9); a farm-laborer's daily wages was 1 denarius (Mt 20:2); and the charge for more than a single day's tending of an invalid in a caravanserai was 2 denarii (Lu 10:35). (For other instances of expense, see Josephus, Ant. 14:2, 2; War, 1:33, 5; Life, 13:44.) The comparative cheapness of living among the Israelites (as among the ancients generally, see Bockh, Staatshaush. 1:65) is evident, owing, however, rather to the greater rarity of the precious metals as a circulating medium than to anything else. SEE NUMISMATICS.