These prutahs, also known as Widow's Mites, were struck by King Herod The Great in the years immediately preceding the birth of Christ. They doubtlessly were circulating in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' Ministry and Crucifixion.
Continuing the style of the Hasmonean kings from whom he took the crown of Judah, Herod's prutahs featured an anchor on one side, inscribed around the rim "King Herod" in Greek. The design of the other side showed a caduceus between two cornucopia. Unlike the Maccabean and Hasmonean coins, Herod's did not have any Hebrew inscriptions.
Each of these Herod the Great prutah coins have been authenticated by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, one of the world's leading coin grading services.
THE STORY OF THE WIDOW'S MITES
Widow's Mites have been a popular item among Christians for centuries, due to their being mentioned in the Bible by Luke and Mark.
Mark 12: 41-44 (NIV) says:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money in the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to Him, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything -- all she had to live on."
HEROD THE GREAT
Herod was appointed King of the Jews in 40 BC by the Roman Senate, and charged with retaking Judea from Parthian invaders. After three years of war, the Parthians and their Hasmonean puppet Antigonas were defeated, and Herod began his reign from Jerusalem.
Among his many ambitious building projects, the most famous was the expansion and repair of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Employing as many as 10,000 workers, Herod doubled the size of the Temple Mount and enlarged the Temple itself, which became known as Herod's Temple.
These works were overshadowed by his extravagant lifestyle, cruelty, and paranoia. Among the many deaths he ordered were those of his second wife and three of his own sons. Perhaps the most horrible act of Herod was the Massacre of the Innocents.
THE SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS
According to the Biblical Book of Matthew, Herod learned from the Three Wise Men that a "King of the Jews" had been born in Bethlehem. Paranoid that this child would grow up to depose him, he ordered all males in Bethlehem of two years of age and younger put to death.
Matthew 2: 1-20 (NIV) states:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the Law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”