JERUSALEM, Israel – In Jerusalem, you never know what you'll uncover when you dig a bit. Restoration to a damaged ancient wall at the Tower of David Museum led to the timely discovery of a more than 2,000-year-old coin – connected to the story of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah marks the victory of the Jewish priestly line known as the Hasmoneans or Maccabees over the Greek ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes. The Greek king was trying to Hellenize the Jews, making it illegal for them to keep the Bible.
Museum director Eilat Lieber told CBN News the coin was found right near a wall from that time period.
"On one side of the coin you can see the face of King Antiochus with a crown and on the other side of the coin you can see a Greek god with the name Demeter. She was the god of agriculture. And the Greek letters here said the name Antiochus," Lieber explained.
"Now try to imagine the people of Jerusalem, the Jewish people of Jerusalem are holding these coins, are walking every day to the market holding a Greek god in their pocket," she said.
"It was against Jewish culture; as you know, the Jewish people are not allowed to show or to draw figures," she added. That comes from the 10 commandments, one of which says there should be no "graven images" or "likenesses."
"So this coin is a symbol of the power of the Greeks," said Lieber. At the time, the coin would have been worth less than 25 cents but now it's worth about $25,000.
After the Maccabees overthrew the Greek empire their new coins bore the image of the menorah – the candelabra prescribed in the Bible and found in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
"More than 2,000 years after, it's so exciting to see that the ancient clues are here still waiting for us to find them," Lieber said.
The coin is a good reminder that empires come and empires go, but the plans of man in the end won't triumph over God.