The Binding of Isaac | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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The Binding of Isaac

A Biblical Story on a Roman Coin
Special exhibit

  • Curator: Yaniv Schauer
  • Designer: Rivka Meyers
  • The Holy Land Gallery
  • Coins

The Roman administration granted many cities throughout the empire the right to issue bronze coins for local use. The obverse of these coins generally featured a portrait of the emperor or a member of his family, while the reverse was used to promote the city itself.

 

On one of the coins displayed here, a bound man can be seen crouching at the base of an altar. Behind him another man is depicted holding a dagger; he looks back toward a third figure, who is accompanied by a ram. To the left of the altar is a fourth, unidentified figure. The same figures appear on another coin, but in this case, it is the ram that is about to be sacrificed. Both scenes are reminiscent of the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac.

 
The two coins were issued during the reign of Philip I (244–249 CE) by the city of Neapolis (present-day)