Smithsonian 2009

Tiberius Denarius -- Smithsonian 2009

Tiberius Denarius (Replica) -- Next to US Dime

 Matthew 22: (ASV - Public Domain) American Standard Version at

 15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might ensnare him in his talk.
 16 And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for   any one: for thou regardest not the person of men (not mindful of their high status).
 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites?
 19 Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a denarius.
 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
 22 And when they heard it, they marvelled, and left him, and went away.

In Palestine Herod was a client king supported by the Romans.  He was kept for his skill in delivering monies to Rome and supporting the Roman taxation of the Jewish people. 

Roman Historian Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56-117) gave us a record of how much a Roman soldier on the German front was paid per day in 14 AD.  He was writing about the Roman army in a summer camp on the banks of the Rhine River in 14 AD.  Augustus had just died and Tiberius had been proclaimed emperor.  The Roman soldiers were grumbling in their tents about bad working conditions and low pay.  Tacitus wrote of the supposed speech by an aged veteran soldier of those days: 

"We have blundered enough by our tameness for so many years, in having to endure thirty or forty campaigns till we grow old, most of us with bodies maimed by wounds. Even dismissal is not the end of our service, but quartered under a legion's standard we toil through the same hardships under another title. If a soldier survives so many risks, he is still dragged into remote regions where, under the name of lands, he receives soaking swamps or mountainous wastes. Assuredly, military service itself is burdensome and unprofitable; ten as a day (5/8 denarius) is the value set on life and limb; out of this, clothing, arms, tents, as well as the mercy of centurions and exemptions from duty have to be purchased. But indeed of floggings and wounds, of hard winters, wearisome summers, of terrible war, or barren peace, there is no end. Our only relief can come from military life being entered on under fixed conditions, from receiving each the pay of a denarius, and from the sixteenth year terminating our service. We must be retained no longer under a standard, but in the same camp a compensation in money must be paid us. Do the praetorian cohorts, which have just got their two denarii per man, and which after sixteen years are restored to their homes, encounter more perils? We do not disparage the guards of the capital; still, here amid barbarous tribes we have to face the enemy from our tents."
(Cornelius Tacitus - The Annals of Imperial Rome (public domain).

A denarius bought about 7 one pound loaves of bread in Palestine during the days of Jesus (prices may have varied seasonally and from town to town).  

There were also Roman-Herodian provincial taxes and the Jewish religious taxes imposed upon the people of Galilee and Judea. 

One might recall the parable of the generous vineyard owner who paid his day laborers a denarius for working a day (Matthew 20). 

Parable of the Mustard Seed
     A Mustard Field Along Highway 87-North Shore of Galilee
     Mustard Seeds in the Palm of a Hand
     A Branching Mustard Plant Near the Jordan River/Bethsaida
     Mustard Field March 1999
     Mustard Flowers
Upper Most Seats of the Synagogue

The Fig Tree
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Ritual Cleansing
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Pearl of Great Price
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     View from the Vulture Overlook
     Overview of Gamala
Modern Galilee Fishing Boats

Caves and/or tombs
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Feeding the 5,000
     On the Mountain
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     Alternate location
Mt. Hermon

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The Fish and the Coin
A Denarius
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The Road to Jericho
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Salt of the earth

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