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Public Domain

There was another rare archaeological find made this month. Five coins dating to the time of Ezra have been discovered in Jerusalem. According to the Israeli news website YNETNEWs, the coins measure about seven millimeters across. This discovery dates all the way back to the 4th Century, B.C. What else is incredible about this find is the fact that three of the five coins are intact and legible.

According to The Times of Israel, the sifting project began in 2004 as a means of retrieving small artifacts from 9,000 tons of earth unexpectedly removed from the Temple Mount in the area known as Solomon’s stables, as a prelude to the construction of an underground mosque. The dirt was unceremoniously dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley. Using a method involving the wet sifting of dirt over a screen, the project has recovered more than 6,000 ancient coins.

The five recently recovered have been identified by coin collectors as Yehud coins, representing the first to be minted by Jewish authorities, making them a particularly rare find. This discovery doubles the number of coins previously found.

“Throughout the 150 years of archeological digs all across the sites of ancient Jerusalem, only five of these coins were found,” Zachi Dvira of the Temple Mount Sifting Project shared with YNETNews, “We have now found three whole coins, along with two eroded ones, apparently from the same series, and assume we’ll find more in the future.”

The coins are inscribed with the letters YHD, which reference the name for the Persian province of Yehud. The Persians ruled the kingdom during the time the coins were minted. These coins would have been made around the time when the Jews were allowed by Persian king Cyrus to return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. to build the temple, the Times of Israel reported. These events are described in the book of Ezra.

The book of Ezra provides a much-needed link in the historical record of the Israelite people. When their king was dethroned and captured and the people exiled to Babylon, Judah as an independent nation ceased to exist. The book of Ezra provides an account of the Jews’ regathering of their struggle to survive to rebuild what had been destroyed. Through his narrative, Ezra declared that they were still God’s people and that God had not forgotten them.

“These were the first coins ever minted by Jews,” Dvira told YNETNews. “They express the people’s return to their land after the Babylonian exile, and their ability to hold and maintain diplomatic ties with the ruling empire – then Persia – similar to our relations with the United States today.”

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