In the textual record, Herod Agrippa II appears as ineffectual beside his sister Berenice (Chapter 11); he was also a hesitant participant in the war. It was reported, however, that he personally experienced the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple at the end of the First Jewish War in 70 CE, and that in 75 CE he was rewarded by Vespasian for his continuous support and loyalty to Rome with the title Pretorius and the region of Arca (Flavius Josephus, De bello Iudaico 3,57; 7,97). His domain afterwards contained the areas of Ulatha, Hermon, Abilene, parts of Galilee and Perea as well as Arca itself (Overview Map). When exactly Herod Agrippa II died is not clearly evident, though he is said to have died childless in the third year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, i.e. 100 CE. With him, the Herodian dynasty ended.
The Coinage of the last Herodian Sovereign
In contrast to his predecessors, Agrippa II minted considerably more coin types during his long reign. The minting of coins ceased during the First Jewish War and appears not to have been begun again before the early 70s. Afterwards, coins were minted irregularly until 95/96 CE. The majority of coins issued under Herod Agrippa II are dated to the years following the First Jewish War. The coins circulated primarily within his domain and were probably mostly struck in his capital Caesarea Philippi. Only occasional coins can be assigned to Herod Agrippa II from the period before the war, among them several from the city Sepphoris.
Sepphoris, in Galilee, had been completely destroyed after a rebellion in 4 CE by the Roman governor of Syria, Publius Quinctilius Varus, the general who a number of years later would meet defeat with his legions in the Teutoburg Forest. As Herod Agrippa II moved south with Vespasian toward Jerusalem in 67 CE, the meanwhile splendidly rebuilt city had allied itself with the Roman general in order to avoid another destruction. Here Vespasian established his headquarters and apparently had coins minted (No.1B), which were imitated by Agrippa II (No.2B).
The dating of a number of the pre-war coins is debated, as Herod Agrippa II employed a double chronology: year 11 (ΕΤΟΥC ΑΙ ΤΟΥ Κ) and the number 6 (ς) (No.3B and No.4A). When Agrippa’s kingdom was expanded by Nero and further areas came under his sovereignty, he placed two dates on the coins issued in 60/61 CE, corresponding to two different eras. One period was counted beginning with the year of his accession to the throne, i.e. from 49 CE (to which the “year 11” refers), while the second probably began in 53/54 CE (from which comes the “year 6”), the year in which Agrippa II returned to Palestine as king. Agrippa II’s Roman name is also documented on coin No.4A.
Shortly after the end of the war in 70 CE, Agrippa continued his coin production, which assumed a new appearance. The coins now bore portraits of the reigning emperors from Vespasian to Domitian (compare No.10A and No.12A), were labelled with Greek legends, and typically depicted Roman gods on their reverse sides (compare No.5B and No.11B). Not only were individual images imitated from Roman imperial coins (compare No.14B and No.15B with No.5B and No.11B), but certain types remained nearly unchanged and were only re-struck with Greek legends (compare No.9B with No.16B).
Unusual motifs also occasionally emerge in the coins of Herod Agrippa II, for instance a depiction of the god Pan that refers to the centuries-old sanctuary of Pan in the city Caesarea Philippi (originally Paneas) (No.13B). Depictions from the Hellenistic-Greek past were likewise employed (No.7B).
In addition to Agrippa’s own coins, the regional money supply of Palestine under the Flavian emperors was guaranteed through issues from cities including Gaza, Ashkelon, Neapolis, Sebaste, Caesarea Maritima, and Gaba. The most common coins in silver and bronze, which circulated throughout Palestine during this period, came from Antiochia on the Orontes, the capital of the Syrian province.
N. Kokkinos (Ed.), The World of the Herods (Oriens et Occidens 14), Stuttgart 2007
A. Kushnir-Stein, The Coinage of Agrippa II (Scripta Classica Israelica. Year-book of the Israel Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies 21), Tel Aviv 2002, 123‒131
Y. Meshorer, A Treasury of Jewish Coins. From the Persian Period to Bar Kokhba, Jerusalem 2001
Y. Meshorer et al., Coins of the Holy Land. The Abraham and Marian Sofaer Collection at the American Numismatic Society and the Israel Museum, New York 2013, 2 vols.
P. Schäfer, Geschichte der Juden in der Antike. Die Juden Palästinas von Alexander dem Großen bis zur arabischen Eroberung, Tübingen 2010