Atheist charge: According to Matthew 26:15, the chief priests gave “thirty pieces of silver” to Judas. But how is that possible, since there were no silver coins used as currency in Jesus’ time, and there had not been any for about 300 years?
Caesar . . . laid a tribute upon the Jews wheresoever they were, and enjoined every one of them to bring two drachmae every year into the Capitol, as they used to pay the same to the temple at Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jewish affairs at this time.
The basic Greek coin was the silver drachme . . .*The drachme is mentioned only in Lk. 15:8 f. . . . where it is translated ‘pieces of silver'(EVV) [RSV: “ten silver coins”]: . . . It was regarded as approximately equivalent to the Roman denarius . . .*The didrachmon or 2-drachm piece was used among the Jews for the half-shekel required for the annual Temple tax (Mt. 17:24). . . .*The stater, tetradrachmon, or 4-drachm piece, is found only in Mt. 17:27 [RSV: “shekel”], where it is the coin which would pay the Temple tax for Jesus and Peter. . . .*Most numismatists agree that this was the coin in which Judas received his thirty pieces of silver (Mt. 26:15 . . .). (p. 840)
“Coins” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
“Coin” (McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia)
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Photo credit: Loren Bider, Judas [public domain / PublicDomainPictures.Net]
Summary: Atheists and other biblical skeptics object to Judas “thirty coins of silver.” I document how various coins made of silver in 1st century Israel have been established.