Ancient coin depicting villain from Hanukkah story found in home of suspected thief in Israel

A coin depicting the ancient Greek king Antiochus IV, the villain from the Jewish story of Hanukkah, has been discovered among a plethora of artifacts stolen from a sacred site in Israel.

The coin, minted between 169 and 164 BC, commemorates the victories of the ancient king in Egypt. However, Antiochus is more famous for persecuting the Jews and desecrating their temple. Jerusalem over 1850 years ago.

Although the discovery of the coin is exciting and happened only a few weeks before first day of Hanukkahofficials are concerned about a man who broke the law – he stole several other coins and ancient artifacts from the Kiryat Shmona protected area.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which ransacked the man’s home, said the removal of such items could potentially harm important research being done at the site and destroy any information not yet disclosed.

The ancient coin dates back to between 169 and 164 BC and commemorates the victories of the ancient Greek king Antiochus IV over Egypt. However, the king is known for his persecution of the Jews.

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that begins on December 18 and ends on the evening of December 26.

The holiday commemorates the re-consecration in the second century BC of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, as the first was destroyed by Antiochus, who replaced it with an altar praying to the Greek gods.

Antiochus captured Jerusalem in 167 BC. and desecrated the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar to Zeus.

The coin was found in the home of a man who stole several artifacts from a sacred site in Israel.

The coin was found in the home of a man who stole several artifacts from a sacred site in Israel.

Hanukkah is dedicated to the victories of the Maccabees or Hasmoneans over the troops of the king in 167 BC.

The Jewish army was led by Mattathias Maccabeus and his son Judas, who were the first Jews to defend their religious beliefs and not their lives.

The Maccabean revolt led to the capture of Jerusalem, the restoration of Jewish worship in the Temple and the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled Judea until 67 BC.

Antiochus IV is the villain in the Jewish Hanukkah story who persecuted the Jews and destroyed their Temple.  Pictured is a statue of a king

Antiochus IV is the villain in the Jewish Hanukkah story who persecuted the Jews and destroyed their Temple. Pictured is a statue of a king

The coin, however, is a reminder of the dark times before the victory of the Maccabees over their Greek oppressors.

Retired Israel Antiquities Authority coin researcher Dr. Danny Shion told The Daily Telegraph. Jerusalem Post: “Antiochus, the king of the Seleucid kingdom, officially bore the name “Epiphanes” – the face of God, but behind his back his subjects called him Epimanus – the mad Antiochus.”

The raid was carried out on Tuesday, and while the suspect told the Israel Antiquities Authority he was only looking for geological finds, officials found arrowheads, rings, makeup tools, buckles, lead objects, buttons and more in his home.

Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the Anti-Robbery Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority in the northern region, said: “While the find is beautiful and the time of its discovery before Hanukkah is breathtaking, we must not forget that the suspect broke the law.

“A lot of stolen things were found in his house. The suspect claimed that he was interested in geology and was looking for quartz crystals and metals, but “along the way” he also collected coins and ancient artifacts.

The photo shows the same coin found in the man's house, but it is not as weathered.

The photo shows the same coin found in the man’s house, but it is not as weathered.

There are still remnants of the struggle that the Jews endured against their Greek oppressors.  Last November, the charred remains of a 2,100-year-old Greek fortress were discovered in Israel, and experts said the scene provided

There are still remnants of the struggle that the Jews endured against their Greek oppressors. Last November, the charred remains of a 2,100-year-old Greek fortress were discovered in Israel, and experts said the scene provided “tangible evidence of the Hanukkah story.”

There are still remnants of the struggle that the Jews endured against their Greek oppressors.

Last November, the charred remains of a 2,100-year-old Greek fortress were discovered in Israel, and experts said the scene provided “tangible evidence of the Hanukkah story.”

The fortress, measuring 50 feet by 50 feet, was built from stone walls nine feet long before being burned to the ground during the battle between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids, the kingdom of Antiochus.

An ancient battle began when the Hasmoneans spotted Seleucid soldiers stationed in a fortress perched on a hill overlooking the Hellenistic city of Maresha.

No fighting took place inside the building, but the Jewish rebels tore down the roof, causing the walls to collapse, and then set fire to the enemy fortress.

After pushing the piles of earth away from the ruins, archaeologists unearthed thousands of collapsed rocks, which revealed a massive one-foot-thick layer of destruction that contained hundreds of artifacts dating from the late second century BC.

The team recovered pottery, slingshots, iron weapons, charred wooden beams, and dozens of coins from the scene.