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282 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 


Jewish. Lulab and Portal Coins. — The recent Anglo- Jewish Exhi- 
bition has yielded good fruit. It has given the impulse to various publi- 
cations of great interest for Jewish History. Literature, and Archaeology. 
One of these publications contains a valuable contribution to the study 
of Jewish Numismatics, written in German by Prof. Graetz, Bedeutung 
der jiidischen Miinzen mit dem Feststrauas und dem Portale ; and ren- 
dered into English by Mr. H. Montagu, F.L.A. (On the Jewish 
" Lulab " and " Portal » Coins.) 

It is a strange phenomenon that among the many antiquities un- 
earthed in Palestine, and especially in Jerusalem, no Jewish coin is to be 
found of the period anterior to the Babylonian exile. "We have no 
direct evidence that coins existed at that period, and the terms shekel, 
beJta, gerah, agurah, hesitah, etc., indicate, perhaps, weights rather than 
current coins ; even the phrase " current with the merchant " (Gen. xxiii. 
16) may have reference to the correctness of the shekel as a weight, and 
not to the currency of money. The proper Hebrew word for coin, 
matbea 1 , so frequently met with in Postbiblical literature, does not occur 
even once in the Bible, neither does the word taba in the sense of "im- 
pressing,'' "stamping," although the noun, tubbaath, "ring," may derive 
its origin from the same root. "We should, however, go too far if we 
were to infer from the absence of direct evidence that coins did not 
exist at that period. Selling and buying wa9 as necessary in olden times 
as in later periods, and the ancient Israelites probably employed some 
kind of money in their business transactions. 

The impression on Jewish coins was much restricted by the prohibi- 
tion : " Thou shalt not make unto thee an image or any likeness of that 
which is in heaven above or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in 
the waters underneath the earth" (Ex. xx. 20). Whatever may have 
been the interpretation that this law practically received, it seems certain 
from the specimens of coins still extant that the impression of figures 
of living beings was strictly avoided, as these were frequently the object 
of divine veneration among the surrounding idolatrous nations. Plants, 
fruits, vessels, parts of buildings, are found represented on Jewish coins. 
The Hebrew inscriptions were made in ancient Hebrew characters. 
Although the coins extant belong to the time of the Second Temple and 
the Second Exile, a period in which the square characters introduced by 
Ezra were in use among the Jews, the ancient characters were retained 
for the inscriptions on coins. Why this was done we cannot say for 
certain. It may be that the intention of Ezra, when transcribing the 
Law in Babylonian characters, and leaving the ancient characters for 
ordinary purposes, was lehabhdil ben kodesh lechol, " to distinguish 
between that which is holy and that which is common.'' It is, however, 
possible that even at the time of the Maccabees the ancient characters 
were better known in the country, especially to the Israelites in the 
North, who had not been carried away into exile. 

In some cases the inscriptions inform us of the value of the coin, that 
it is a shekel Israel, or half a shekel, or a quarter, but in many cases no 
value is mentioned, the value being probably known by the size of the 
coin. The date is indicated in many of them, but not according to a 
fixed era. The first, second, or fourth year of the Liberation of Israel, 

Notes and Discussion. 283 

or Jerusalem, the name of the ruler is likewise mentioned ; but as there 
were several chiefs of the same name a little confusion and doubt as to 
the date of the particular coin is inevitable. Thus, the name Simon on 
certain coins is interpreted by some as referring to Simon L, the son of 
Gamaliel, the Prince {Nasi) ; others refer it to Simon II. ; again others 
to Simon bar Gioras, the leader of the Zealots, before the destruction of 
the Temple, or to Bar-Kochba, whose first name is said to have been 
Simon. The same is the case with the name Elazar, found on some 
coins. The name may refer to one of the chiefs of the Zealots in the 
first Jewish war against the Romans, or to a Rabbi Elazar bar Modai, 
who lived during the second Jewish war against the Romans, in the 
reign of Hadrian. 

There is also a group of coins called " the Lulab coins," which have 
become a subject of controversy, and are examined in the above-named 
pamphlet of Prof. Graetz. On the one side of these coins a vessel contain- 
ing three plants is represented, with a fruit on the left side of the basket. 
The fruit and these three plants have been identified as those named 
in Lev. xxiii. 40 : the fruit of the goodly tree, branches of palm trees, 
boughs of a thick-leaved tree, and willows of the brook, generally called 
the arba minim (the four kinds) or cthrog (citron), lulab (branches of 
the palm-tree), hadassim (myrtles), and arabhah (willows). This inter- 
pretation is now generally adopted. On the other side of these pieces 
the type is that of a portal or colonnade ; four columns with an archi- 
trave, and other ornamentations above. It looks like a portal, and it has 
been believed to be the entrance to the Temple (though the Temple had 
no ornamentation of columns at the entrance), or the representation of 
the Mausoleum, which Simon Maccabeus caused to be erected in memory 
of the Asmonean family in Modim, or of the Ark of the Covenant. Prof. 
Graetz rejects all these views. His own interpretation of the type is 
certainly ingenious and most plausible. The plants on the one side 
remind us of the Feast of Tabernacles ; is it not likely that the other 
side might also represent some characteristic of the same feast, namely, 
the Sukkah (tabernacle) ? Equally ingenious and plausible is the learned 
Professor's explanation of the semicircle and lines in the midst of the 
portal. He identifies them with the ornaments of the Sukkah as 
described in the Talmud, consisting of ears of corn, dates, nuts, and 
other kinds of fruit. The types on both sides complement each other 
in representing the characteristics of the Festival of Tabernacles. 
These forms may have been chosen for two reasons ; either the coins 
were struck after a victory gained just before this Festival, or an alle- 
gorical representation of God's protection (Sukkah, Lev. xxiii. 43), and 
Israel's rejoicings (Lulab, ib. 40). Prof. Graetz thinks that the im- 
pression on these coins was to commemorate a victory gained by the 
Jews during the first war with the Romans, on the 17th Ellul. (See Me- 
gilloth Taanith.) In consequence of this victory the Jews were enabled 
to go up to Jerusalem in large numbers for the celebration of the Feast 
of Tabernacles. It would, however, seem very strange that coins struck 
for the purpose of commemorating this event, in which the visit to the 
Temple and the worship therein was of the greatest importance, should 
contain no reference to the Temple. This omission would rather lead us 
to assume that these coins were struck after the destruction of the 
Temple, during the war of Bar-cochba. Prof. Graetz attempts to prove 
that this was impossible, in a way more ingenious than probable. Accord- 
ing to the Mishnah (Sukkah, iii. 8) the rich in Jerusalem bound their 
lulab (i.e., together with the myrtle and willow branches) with gimonioth 
of gold. These ffimoniofh, he argues, are the very basketshaped orna- 

284 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

ments in which the plants are placed on the coins. The argument is 
not convincing. For even if this interpretation of the term gimonioth 
were correct, there is no reason why the rich of Jerusalem should not 
have continued their practice, after the destruction of the Temple, out- 
side Jerusalem. But it is not at all likely that gimonioth denotes, 
" baskets," as the term " binding " (ogediri) does not well apply to baskets. 
Besides, it would have been very awkward to carry lulabim about in 
baskets. The rich of Jerusalem more probably ornamented their plants 
with gold thread or binding. The baskets on the coins are probably the 
receptacles of the luldb when not wanted, and were in use everywhere 
and at all times. The question, therefore, as to the date of these coins is, 
in spite of the highly interesting pamphlet of the Jewish Historian not 
yet decided. Perhaps it is better to leave it an open question, as it may 
be the cause of further essays, as interesting and learned as the present 
one, from the pen of Prof. G-raetz. M. Feiedlandee. 

Isaac Jeshurun-Alvares, of London (died in Vienna 1735). In 
the old cemetery of the Jewish Congregation of Vienna very many 
lie buried who were lowered into their graves for the second time 
when Ludwig August Frankl busied himself with publishing the 
epitaphs of the graveyard in his Inschriften. Thanks, however, to the 
intelligent piety of the Viennese authorities, the Archives of the Con- 
gregation have preserved the MS. in which S. G. Stern entered the 
account of the inscriptions which he deciphered. To my no little sur- 
prise, I there discovered for the first time the cemetery of those epitaphs 
that Frankl had overlooked. For in the hasty endeavour to arrange 
chronologically for the press the epitaphs which Stern had deciphered 
without regard to sequence, many were omitted ; it was as when a 
wanton hand, commissioned with the duty of emptying a vessel full of 
precious liquid, carelessly jerks out the contents, reckless how much is 
spilt in the process. In this hitherto unknown cemetery, which I pain- 
fully enough was able to restore by means of comparison, I also found 
the name of the man who deserves a record among the members of the 
London Sephardic Congregation of the first quarter of the last century. 

The epitaph, numbered by Stern 91, and provided with the super- 
scription : 

bnnB»a nDnvD nnsK>D pji 1 ? "vyn ymr> onsabs apy> "i rmo 

runs as follows : — 

paita DntoijK piB>» pmr nn p apr maDn 
yah .tw'ona njHDD nx' na»x 3py* by ,nyp ixb> d*mipqi dhbid 
pxn bt& nayn iwnb . n»i» mp 1 ? wirb rut* '^xm , sr'iia ypncnbi 
rmbwib , nj-n -pm inn mow lmipa , run: ipn 1 ? inctwi , ruinnn 
IBM , na» *d my iin "»nra -iioj/?i , rwswn vto nun 1 ? , roip 1 ? rm>np3 
P'sb mm "i"K rvc k dv3 napji K>np nacra 

Here lies 

the Sephardi Jacob ben Isaac Jeshurun-Alvares, 1 of London. 

Ye mourners and wailers, raise an elegy for Jacob, who went forth from 

1 Concerning the martyr Simon Alvares in Coimbra, see Kayserling's 
Hittory of the Jews in Portugal, pp. 239 seq, ; for the martyr Isabel Nunes 
Alvares, see Sephardim, p. 203.