On Sunday, Jews marked the beginning of the three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Coincidentally, archaeologists have just discovered a coin from 69 CE, minted by Jewish rebels fighting the Romans, in an ancient drainage ditch in Jerusalem. In the following year the Romans would capture the city, crush the rebellion, and destroy the Temple. Yori Yalon writes:
The coin . . . bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew lettering reading “For the redemption of Zion” and a depiction of a chalice. Its other side depicts the “four species” used in the rituals of the Sukkot holiday—the citron fruit, palm frond, and myrtle and willow branches—and the words “year four,” referring to the [fourth] year of rebellion against Rome.
“The coin was found exactly in the same place that Jews had been hiding in the drainage channel under the street,” noted Reut Vilf [a representative of the organization overseeing the excavation that unearthed the coin]. Evidence of the rebels’ attempt to hide under the city includes intact oil lamps and ceramic pots that were found whole in the sewer itself.
Interpreting the inscription on the coin, Vilf said, “Freedom is an immediate thing, while redemption is a process. It could attest to their understanding that the end was near.”
Eli Shukron, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said, [however], that in all likelihood the coin could [also] have fallen into the drainage system through cracks in the stone-paved road.