A rare coin from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, bearing the name of “Eleazar the Priest”, and dated to the first year of the revolt (132 CE), was discovered in the Judean Desert this week.

The coin was discovered together with three other coins from the same period, by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the Ministry of Heritage and the Archaeological Office for the Military Administration of Judea and Samaria.

The coin features a detailed engraving of a date palm on its obverse side, accompanied by the ancient Hebrew script inscription ‘Eleazar the Priest.’ The reverse side showcases a cluster of grapes encircled by the words ‘Year One of the Redemption of Israel,’ also in ancient Hebrew.

The reference to Eleazar the Priest on the coin opens up a few possibilities about his identity. One main theory suggests he could be Rabbi Eleazar Hamod‘ai, a Tannaic Rabbi and disciple of Rabbi Akiva. He is believed to have played a pivotal religious role during the Bar Kokhba Revolt, residing in Beitar, where the revolt’s command center was located.

Since 2017, a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Prevention of Archaeological Theft Unit, have been systematically surveying the Judean Desert, to reach the valuable finds before looters. Among the finds discovered in the desert in the course of the survey, were scroll fragments of the Twelve Minor Prophets and Roman iron swords.

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