Jewish Money History and Historical Jewish Coin Chart

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  • #589919

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    The author of this article asked me to share this:

    He also asked me to share the coin charts and the complete pre-copy editing article for those who are doing Hazahav and can’t wait until the sequels are published:

    http://www.box.net/shared/642nle6fnh

    Daf Yomi Insights

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    My brother Avrohom asked me to write a supplement to his daf yomi article. The daf yomi is coming up to perek hazahav in Bava Metzia, which discusses the ancient monetary system. This is a rather poorly known area of the Talmud, since it deals with the monetary facts on the ground of 2,000 years ago.

    This series of articles is written to help people understand this area of Talmud. (We will explain the title in a later installment.) It is based on knowledge and research picked up from having a hobby of collecting ancient coins. I am not a professor and never formally studied this subject. This article contains my opinions as well. If you spot an error, feel free to write in and correct it.

    Some basic information to start with: a Troy ounce has 31.1 grams. A regular ounce has 28.3 grams.

    What Is Money?

    History Of Money

    Early Forms Of Money

    Ancient society would have laughed at our idea of money: intrinsically worthless pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them, backed by nothing but government fiat, with not much separating it from the play money sold in the toy aisles of chain drug stores. When the Midrash Tanchumah (Parashas Terumah, Paragraph 7) predicted this, it must have come as a complete shock to a society used to the idea that money has to be worth something. Early money consisted of commodity goods desired enough to always be accepted, but common enough to be easily available for transactions. Some examples are:

    Clearly, coins are the better way to go, as well as being less bloody when you need to get change. It is perhaps for this reason that the Gemara in Pesachim 54B calls the nature of people to accept coins as money a creation from Hashem.

    Biblical Examples Of Money

    Rabbi Yosef Sebrow is a musmach of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and an alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. He is currently the IT Director at Star Financial. He thanks his wife for her patience while he composed and researched this series. He can be reached at Ysebrow@gmail.com.

    Moderator’s Note: Here are links to the other parts of this article:

    Part 2

    The Phoenicians

    Part 3

    Pre-Lydian Coinage

    Part 4

    Part 5

    Babylonian Coin Chart

    #909927

    goody613
    Member

    nice! that chart can really help when learning complicated gemaros. i don’t know about this gemara but kidushin 12a u really need a chart like this

    #909928

    Jothar
    Member

    Very useful for Hazahav, which Daf Yomi is doing now. A very dense read, but some real funny lines throughout. I’m not sure I like the way the author says, “The Shulchan Aruch is wrong but the Ketzos says it’s ok”. Very strange hashkafa. If we know Rashi is right, then a shekel is 14 grams, not 17. I doubt Hashem meant for us to perpetuate errors.

    #909929

    Anonymous

    Jothar – I’m not so sure you should be questioning the author’s hashkafa’s. The author seems to be a talmid chochom and has semicha/learnt at 2 well known yeshivos.

    #909930

    Jothar
    Member

    Mod-55, isn’t the purpose of the Coffee room to ask questions and debate the issues better left to our gedolim and those better than us? 🙂

    Bottom line, this Ketzos which the author so casually tossed out there is a very troubling hashkafah if taken literally. I’m sure there are other interpretations/modifications to this hashkafah of the ketzos. The Ramban the author quoted had no problems retracting his pshat when he saw the “shekel yisroel” coin.

    #909931

    onlyemes
    Member

    Thank you for this article and the other one too. It was very informational and balanced. It is interesting that the Ramban, as would be expected , retracted his halachic position when he heard contrary objective, reliable, non rabbinic evidence from a knowledgable source. Equally interesting, and very curious, is the Chazon Ish’s well known refusal to consider archaeological or historical evidence or recently discovered old manuscripts exhibiting different girsaos or historical evidence. The Chazon Ish seems to have been extaordinarily mistrustful of the reliability of the sources, and even more so, the potential for abuse of the information garnered.

    #909932

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    Daf Yomi Insights

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    More Biblical Examples Of Money

    Shivas Tzion: Persian Power!

    To be continued…

    Rabbi Yosef Sebrow is a musmach of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and an alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. He is currently the IT Director at Star Financial and can be reached at Ysebrow@gmail.com. He thanks his wife for her patience while he composed and researched this series and for all of her support. She is truly an eishes chayil, though she never gave a belt to a Canaanite.

    #909933

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    The Phoenicians

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Some questions:

    1. Who were these Phoenicians? (The ancient ones, not the modern ones in a city in Arizona.)

    2. Why do they get to define our coinage and money standards?

    #909934

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Published on Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Alexander The Great: Greek Chic In Vogue

    In sum, the following coins referenced in the Gemara were now known to be in circulation in Eretz Yisrael at the early time of Greek domination (Alexander III and Ptolemy I):

    Mints loved bronzes because they had a high return on value. People loved bronzes because they facilitated small trades. It was a good match. The silver and gold coinages were much closer to actual value. Today, our cheapest denominations cost the most to make. The government currently loses money on every penny and nickel. Our expensive denominations, however, are cheap. It costs 6.2 cents per bill no matter what the denomination. We have managed to completely reverse the ancient money system.

    Rabbi Yosef Sebrow is a musmach of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and an alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. He is currently the IT Director at Star Financial and can be reached at Ysebrow@gmail.com. He thanks his wife for her patience while he composed and researched this series and for all of her support.

    #909935

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    Pre-Lydian Coinage?

    Published on Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Colin Kraay, in his 1964 article on coinage, mentions that coins would still have to be weighed due to their irregularity. In medieval times, merchants would have coin weights to make sure that the coins would have the right weight, thousands of years after coins supposedly eliminated the need.

    This problem has persisted even to modern times. One of my rebbeim once went fundraising in Mexico, about a half century ago. On his way out, he exchanged his Mexican currency for dollars. They weighed his coins. They were deficient, and he lost money on the transaction.

    #909936

    chofetzchaim
    Member
    .
    Coins of Eretz Yisrael and Bavel at time of Alexander III (all silver)
    Jewish name Greek name % of drachm Weight (g) (troy oz.)



    zuz drachm 100% 4.3 0.1383
    shekel,tekel didrachm 200% 8.6 0.2765
    sela tetradrachm 400% 17.2 0.5531
    maneh maneh 10000% 430 13.8264
    .

    #909937

    These articles are great, especially because they’re written in such a way that the average person can easily comprehend their meaning. Thanks for sharing them here.

    Incidentally, I think I may know a girl who’s related to Rabbi Sebrow. Does he live in/have relatives in Teaneck?

    #909938

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Published on Thursday, July 09, 2009

    The Roman Takeover

    [illegally]

    The Romans quashed the revolt and celebrated by minting coins saying IVDEA CAPTA (Judea Capta), showing a mourning woman as a symbol of the destroyed country. The captured war booty was used to construct the Flavian Amphitheater, better known as the Roman Coliseum. Jewish coin minting would halt until the Bar Kochba Rebellion in 132 CE.

    To be continued…

    Rabbi Yosef Sebrow is a musmach of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and an alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. He is currently the IT Director at Star Financial and can be reached at Ysebrow@gmail.com. He thanks his wife for her patience while he composed and researched this series and for all of her support.

    #909939

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    By Rabbi Yosef Sebrow

    Published on Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Persian Power Part II: Pahlavi And Pashiz

    The Mithkal And The Shekel Weight

    Money Today: Its Present, Predicted, And Eschatalogical Future

    [the 18th]

    What did happen is that the Dow Jones lost thousands of points. Millions of people lost their jobs. The economy fell off a cliff and was seriously damaged. Doomsday, however, was staved off.

    Rabbi Yosef Sebrow is a musmach of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem and an alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. He is currently the IT Director at Star Financial and can be reached at Ysebrow@gmail.com. He thanks his wife for her patience while he composed and researched this series and for all of her support.

    #909940

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    Coins In Use In Babylonian Bavel

    Jewish name        Sassanian             relationship     Weight silver
    name to drachm (gr) (troy oz)
    peshitta (AE) pashiz (1/3 dang?) 5.6%? 0.23? 0.007288317
    danka (AR) dang (1/6 drahm) 16.7% 0.68 0.021864952
    sela medina, ster 50.0% 2.04 0.065594855
    istira (mostly AE,
    drop of AR)
    zuz (AR) drahm, dirham 100.0% 4.08 0.131189711
    istira (AR) ster 400.0% 16.32 0.524758842
    (theoretically)
    dinar (AU) dinar ?? ?? ??

    Note: AE = bronze or copper. AR = silver. AU = gold. For the bronze and

    gold coins, the weight columns show the silver equivalent for that coin.

    #909941

    Jothar
    Member

    At least the Mets are too far out to be collapsing this September…

    #909942

    HaQer
    Member

    Could this mean that the p’ruta will be completely replaced by plastic?

    #909943

    Jothar
    Member

    There’s talk of repealing the penny. They’d save money like that, and nobody wants them. Maybe that would qualify.

    #909944

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    Apparently nobody wants dollar coins either. Especially with all the rewards programs nowadays people will make even the smallest purchases on credit cards.

    #909945

    chofetzchaim
    Member

    The author has written a pictorial guide to the coins of the mishna

    and gemara, with lots of color photos of the coins. you can view this

    at:

    https://www.box.com/s/i93fxwdxt5gxjalabe8w

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