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orion Languages of DSS Era

A belated footnote to the thread on languages of Hellenistic Palestine:
The numismatic evidence is quite interesting, if one can trust the
convenient charts in Jacob Maltiel-Gerstenfeld, <t>260 Years of Ancient
Jewish Coins: a Catalogue</> (Tel Aviv: Kol, 1982) [Meshorer's Catalogue
was not on the library shelf when I checked]. Hasmonean coins up to about
100 bce (i.e. Hyrcanus 1 and Aristobulus 1) bear Hebrew inscriptions, but
with Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 bce) the inscriptions become bilingual,
with Greek on one side, Hebrew on the other. The meager evidence from
Salome Alexandra's mintings (76-67 bce) has Hebrew only, but with
Antigonus 2 (40-37 bce) the bilingual Hebrew/Greek returns on some but not
all coins. Herodian coinage bears exclusively Greek legends until some
Latin is also included in a few of the coins of Agrippa 2 (50/56-95 ce) in
the middle of the first century ce. With the first revolt, the
paleo-Hebrew wording is exclusive. Subsequent Judea Capita coinage has
both Greek and Latin. Bar Kokhba coins are exclusively paleo-Hebrew.

As a coin and stamp collector, I'm aware of special circumstances that may
introduce "artificial" multilingualism on such objects (occupation by
outsiders, target marketplace, international standards, etc.). What one
does with the above evidence may vary widely. But it does seem to be
relevant evidence for such discussions.

Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania