This is our second page on "Biblical" coins: coins described in the New Testament of the Bible or circulated in the land of Judea during the time of Christ. The Widow's Mite, Tribute Penny, and Tyrian Shekel were all covered on Page 1. This page discusses additional coins specifically mentioned by Christ in the New Testament.
Temple Tax (Didrachma/Stater)
When they came to Caper'na-um, the collectors of the didrachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does not your teacher pay the tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?" And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a stater; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."(Matthew 17:24 - 27).
The Didrachma tax mentioned in this passage is the same as the Half Shekel Temple tax mentioned on our first page of Biblical Coins (see Money Changers). It appears that these local collectors of the tax were able to accept the common currency in payment rather than the Tyrian Shekels required at the Temple itself. The Didrachma was worth two Drachmas ("di" = "two"), the Drachma being the standard silver coin in most of the Hellenized world.
The coin discovered in the fish's mouth is described as a Stater, a silver coin worth a few Drachmas. Usually Staters were worth two or three Drachmas, but evidently this one was worth four and was, thus, equivalent in value to a Tetradrachma ("tetra" = "four").
Two Sparrows for a Penny (Assarion)
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:28 - 31).
In the original Greek, this coin is described as an Assarion (Latin, Assarius). The Assarius, or As, was the lowest valued Roman coin in regular production and, at the time of Christ, they were struck in pure copper. Sixteen Asses were equivalent to a Denarius. See section on Roman coins.
Paid the Last Penny (Kodrantes)
Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last kodrantes. (Matthew 5:25 - 26).
The original Greek specifies a Kodrantes, or Quadrans in Latin. This was the lowest denomination coin minted by the Romans in the time of Christ and it was worth one-quarter of an Assarion. See section on Roman coins. Like the Assarion, the Kodrantes was made of copper.