Stater (στατήρ; Vulg. stater; A.V. "a piece of money; " margin, "stater"), a coin of frequent occurrence in the Graeco-Roman period. SEE MONEY.
1. The term stater, from ἵστημι, to stand, is held to signify a coin of a certain weight, but perhaps means a standard coin. It is not restricted by the Greeks to a single denomination, but is applied to standard coins of gold, electrum, and silver. The gold staters were didrachms of the later Phoenician and the Attic talents, which, in this denomination, differ only about four grains troy. Of the former talent were the Daric staters, or Darics (στατῆρες Δαρεικοί, Δαρεικοί), the famous Persian gold pieces, SEE DARIC, and those of Croesus (Κροισεῖοι); of the latter, the stater of Athens. The electrum staters were coined by the Greek towns on the west coast of Asia Minor; the most famous were those of Cyzicus (στατῆρες Κυζικηνοί, Κυζικηνοί), which weigh about 248 grains. They are of gold and silver, mixed in the proportion, according to ancient authority — for we believe these rare coins have not been analyzed — of three parts of gold to one of silver (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 33, 4, 23). The gold was alone reckoned in their value, for it is said (Demosth. in Phorm. p. 914) that one of these coins was equal to 28 Athenian silver drachms; while the Athenian gold stater, weighing about 132 grains, was equal (Xenoph. Anab. 1, 7, 8) to 20 (20: 132::28:184+, or ¾ of a Cyzicene stater). This stater was thus of 184+ grains, and equivalent to a didrachm of the AEginetan talent. The staters of Croesus, which were the oldest gold coins that came to Greece (Herod. 1, 54), have about the same weight, as the darics, i.e. 128 grains troy. Other staters are mentioned as being in circulation in Greece; those of, Lampsacus, which in all specimens hitherto seen have exactly the weight of a daric; of Phocaea (Thucyd. 4, 52; Demosth. in Boeot. p. 1019); of Corinth (Pollux, 4, 174; 9, 80); and those of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great, who issued them of the weight of Attic didrachms. Thus far the stater is always a didrachm. In silver, however, the term was in later times applied to the tetradrachm of Athens (Phot. s.v. Στατήρ; Hesych. s.v. Γλαῦκες Λαυριωτικαί), and attempts have been made to prove that even in the time of Thucydides the tetradrachm bore the name of statet (Thucyd. 3, 70, Dr. Arnold's note). The term stater was also applied to the gold tetradrachms (commonly called octodrachms) of the Ptolemies (Josephus, Ant. 3, 8, 2). There can therefore be no doubt that the name stater was applied to the standard denomination of both metals, and does not positively imply either a didrachm or a tetradrachm. SEE DIDRACHM.
2. In the New Test. the stater is once mentioned, in the narrative of the miracle of the sacred tribute money. At Capernaum the receivers of the didrachms (οἱ τὰ δίδρχμα λαμβάνοντες) asked Peter whether his master paid the didrachms. The didrachm refers to the yearly tribute paid by every Hebrew into the treasury of the Temple. It has been supposed by some ancient and modern commentators that the civil tribute is here referred to; but by this explanation the force of our Lord's reason for freedom from the payment seems to be completely missed. The sum was half a shekel, called by the Sept. τὸ ἣμισυ τοῦ διδράχμου. The plain inference would therefore be that the receivers of sacred tribute took their name from the ordinary coin or weight of metal, the shekel, of which each person paid half. SEE SHEKEL. But it has been supposed that as the coined equivalent of this didrachm at the period of the evangelist was a tetradrachm, and the payment of each person was therefore a current didrachm [of account], the term here applies to single payments of didrachms. This opinion would appear to receive some support from the statement of Josephus, that Vepasian fixed a yearly tax of two drachms on the Jews instead of that they had formerly paid into the treasury of the Temple (War, 7, 6, 6). But this passage loses its force when we remember that the common current silver coin in Palestine at the time of Vespasian, and that in which the civil tribute was paid, was the denarius, the tribute- money, then equivalent to the debased Attic drachm. It seems also most unlikely that the use of the term didrachm should have so remarkably changed in the interval between the date of the Sept. translation of the Pentateuch and that of the writing of Matthew's Gospel. To return to the narrative. Peter was commanded to take up a fish which should be found to contain a stater, which he was to pay to the collectors of tribute for our Lord and himself (Mt 17:24-27). The stater must here mean a silver tetradrachm; and the only tetradrachms then current in Palestine were of the same weight as the Hebrew shekel. It is observable, in confirmation of the minute accuracy of the evangelist, that at this period the silver currency in Palestine consisted of Greek imperial tetradrachms, or staters, and Roman denarii of a quarter their value, didrachms having fallen into disuse. Had two didrachms been found by Peter, the receivers of tribute would scarcely have taken them; and, no doubt the ordinary coin paid was that miraculously supplied. The tetradrachms of Syria and Phoenicia during the 1st century were always of pure silver, but afterwards the coinage became greatly debased, though Antioch continued to strike tetradrachms to the 3d century, but they gradually depreciated. It was required (Poole,
Hist. of Jew. Coinage, p. 240) that the tribute should be paid in full weight, and therefore the date of the gospel must be of a time when staters of pure silver were current. SEE SILVER, PIECE OF.