The Widows Mite
The Widow’s Mite
The widow’s mite was a small and insignificant coin that has become extremely popular and well known. It was mentioned by Jesus in Mark 12:41-44 and also in Luke 21:1-4. Luke 21:1-4 reads:
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
The widow’s might is not a Roman coin. It is in fact a true Judean issue, struck during the inter-testemental period of Jewish history, a time when Israel was still a self governing nation. It is a scanty little coin that was only as valuable as the modern cent. The proper title for the widow’s mite that was described in the scriptures is the Lepton Mite.
The Thirty Pieces of Silver
Another coin made popular by its use in the Bible is the Tyrian Shekel. This is the coin that most believe was used to pay Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Jesus. The story is recored in Matthew 26: 14-16.
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests
15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.
16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Judas betrayed Jesus on the night of the passover. When Judas realized that he had sinned, he became filled with guilt. Judas raged into the temple and threw the coins back. Then he hung himself.
Jewish men that were 20 years or older annually paid a half shekel to the temple. Men usually paid for two people, which cost a full shekel. Most used the Tyrian Shekel to pay the tax. The coin features the laureate head of the pagan deity Melquarth-Herakles on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. The shekel’s weight averaged 14.2 g and it consist of about 94% silver.
The Tribute Penny
Since the Tribute Penny’s famous appearance in Mark 12:14 it has become a favored item of ancient coin collectors around the globe.
13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.
The Tribute Penny is identified as a denarius picturing Roman Emperor Tiberius on the obverse and Tiberius’s mother, Livia, on the reverse. The Denarius was a small silver coin about the size of a dime. The denarius was the average days wage for a skilled laborer or soldier. There is a possibility that the Tribute Penny was issued by any of six other Emperors, or instead was an Antiochan
Tetradrach, but it is unlikely.