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DENARIUS (Greek, δηνάριον):

Roman silver coin, which derived its name from its being at first equal to ten asses; later this number was increased to sixteen. From the second century B.C. it was the chief silver coin of the commonwealth, and under the empire it is probable that it held a similar position up to the fall of Jerusalem. Its normal value was one twenty-fifth of the imperial aureus.

In the English versions the word is rendered "penny"; and it was in this coin that payment was made by the Jews of the civil tribute to the Roman emperors. The coin bore the effigies and titles of the reigning monarch; hence the reply of Jesus to the Pharisees (Matt. xxii. 17-21).

In the Talmud the denarius is identified with the zuz and reckoned to be worth one-fourth of the holy shekel, or a half of the ordinary one, and equivalent to 4 common selas, 4 sesṭerces, 6 obols, 24 asses, or 192 perutas or widow's mites. See also Money; Numismatics.

Bibliography:
  • Madden, Coins of the Jews (vol. ii. of Numismata Orientalia), pp. 291-292;
  • Zunz, Z. G. p. 539.
J. A. P.
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