Coin World continues reviewing the “12 Days of Christmas” in numismatics.
Coins of the Magi
As presented earlier, an
ancient coin exists that likely marks the birth of Jesus.
Given the abundance of contemporary events celebrated on ancient
coins, it only makes sense that one of the Three Kings or Three Wise
Men (also known as the Magi) would have issued their own coins.
While research is not definitive — like much of ancient history,
there is not 100 percent certainty — there is a strong case for coins
of two of the men who traveled to visit the newborn Christ child.
Read all of Coin World's "12 Days of
The number of “wise men” was never mentioned in the Bible, but has
been in Western lore described as three because of the three gifts
they were said to bear — gold, frankincense and myrrh. Generally it is
stated that a different person brought each gift, though other reports
indicate a caravan as large as 12 people made the journey.
David Hendin, writing in Guide to Biblical Coins, and Kenneth
Bressett, in Money of the Bible, both discuss the three
potential rulers identified as the Magi.
The traditional names given to the rulers are Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior.
Indo-Greek King Gondophares IV Sasse, who ruled from A.D. 20 to 60,
is believed to be Gaspar.
Melchior may actually be Malichus, the son of Nabatean King Aretas
IV, who ruled from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40.
Balthazar has not been identified.
Coins of both Gondophares IV and Aretas IV can be located, with some luck.
Classical Numismatic Group sold a Good Very Fine example of an
Aretas IV coin in a May 14, 2014, auction for $2,415, including a 15 percent buyer's fee.
The third known example of a specific type of Gondophares IV coin
sold in a May 22, 2013, CNG auction for $747.50, including the 15 percent
buyer’s fee, despite the earthen deposits on the surface.
Even though there is not 100 percent confirmation of their role in
the Christmas story, the likelihood is enough to grant them a place on
Coin World’s “12 Days of Christmas” list.
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