ClassicalNumismatist's Blog

11 Jul 2021

The Widows Mite

| ClassicalNumismatist

In the Bible, there is the story of the Widows Mite. Mark 12:41 "He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called to his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." -RSV-CE. Many believe the Widows Mite coin to be the lepton (meaning small or thin). They were minted by King Alexander Jannaeus of Judah from 103-76 BC. Two leptons were worth a quadrans, the smallest coin of the empire, and the lepton was the least valuable coin circulated in Judah. The word "mite" did not exist when these coins circulated. "Mite" means "small cut piece" in Old Dutch and came into being in 1300s Flanders. It was first used in the KJV bible which spread its popularity beginning in 1611. In addition, a lepton was equal to one-half of a Prutah, a bronze coin the size of a small fingernail. Of the prutah and lepton issued by King Alexander Jannaeus, the most common ones had on the obverse an anchor and "King Jannaeus" in Greek, while the reverse had a star with eight rays and sometimes Hebrew letters between the rays or on the rim. Researchers believe they were circulated widely and were plentiful at the time. They were minted around a century before the Widows Mite story.I know I've had this problem for years, but I do not have a way to put pictures on. If anyone could give some help that would be appreciated.Thank you

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