This is a commemorative coin that was issued by Roman Emperor Vespasian, in celebration of the capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple by his son, Titus, in 70 CE. The picture shows the back of the coin and depicts two figures, a man and a woman, beneath a palm tree. The woman is sitting on the ground to the right of the palm tree. Her head is resting on her hand and her shoulders are slumped in what appears to be a mournful pose. It is possible that she represents Israel, Jerusalem, or the Jewish people. The man, standing to the left of the tree, seems to be wearing a Roman helmet and could therefore be seen to represent the conquerors. However, this representation is not clear, and he might also be depicting a Jewish prisoner with hands bound behind his back. A shield and other weapons seem to be on the ground before him. The Latin inscription on the coin reads, “Judaea Conquered.” The reverse side of the coin features the profile of Emperor Vespasian. A wide variety of these “Judaea Capta” commemorative coins were made for 25 years after the destruction of the Temple.
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Vespasian – Vespasian was the Roman Emperor from 69–79 CE. He was the commander of the Roman Army in Israel under Nero, the previous emperor, and crushed the Jewish revolt in the north of the country. After Nero’s death, Vespasian became emperor and appointed his son, Titus, to lead the Roman Army in Israel. Titus captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 70 CE, which ended the rebellion as commemorated in the Arch of Titus in Rome. For 25 years after the rebellion, Vespasian made commemorative coins which were named Judaea Capta coins after the words stamped on them.
The Great Revolt – This is the name given to the Jewish revolt against Rome that began in 66 CE and ended with the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The Romans first occupied Israel in 63 CE. They imposed large taxes and became involved in governance including the appointment of Jewish high priests. Among the Jewish community, various groups or sects emerged, each with different ideas about how to deal with the Roman problem. Eventually the sects began to fight among themselves, thus turning the revolt against Rome into a civil war. Vespasian, as commander of the Roman Army, began suppressing the rebellion in the north of Israel in 66 CE. After becoming emperor in 69 CE, Vespasian appointed his son, Titus, to lead the Roman Army. Titus laid siege around Jerusalem, captured the city, and destroyed the Temple in 70 CE, thus ending Jewish sovereignty in Israel until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. As many as one million Jews were killed in the Great Revolt and thousands were taken as slaves. The rabbis who lived during this period transformed Judaism from a Temple-based religion to a version that could adapt and thrive after the Temple’s destruction.