And he said to them, Whose is this image and superscription?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Image and superscription.—Better, inscription. The coin brought would probably be a silver denarius of Tiberius, bearing on the face the head of the emperor, with the inscription running round it containing his name and titles.
For the exposition, see on Mr 12:13-34.See Poole on "Matthew 22:22".
whose is this image and superscription? or inscription? for the penny that was, brought him had an image upon it, the form of a man's head struck on it, and round about it an inscription, or writing, showing who it was the image of, and whose money it was, and when it was coined: this is enough to show, that this penny was not a Jewish, but a Roman one; for the Jews, though they put inscriptions, yet no images on their coin; and much less would they put Caesar's thereon, as was on this: it is asked (r),
"What is the coin of Jerusalem? The answer is, David and Solomon on one side, and Jerusalem the holy city off the other side, i.e. as the gloss observes, David and Solomon were "written" on one side, and on the other side were written Jerusalem the holy city.''
"and what was the coin of Abraham our father? an old man and an old woman, (Abraham and Sarah,) on one side, and a young man and a young woman, (Isaac and Rebekah,) on the other side.''
The gloss on it is,
"not that there was on it the form of an old man and an old woman on one side, and of a young man and a young woman on the other, for it is forbidden to make the form of a man; but so it was written on one side, an old man and an old woman, and on the other side, a young man and a young woman.''And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 22:20. ἡ εἰκὼν: the coin produced bore an image; perhaps not necessarily, though Roman, as the Roman rulers were very considerate of Jewish prejudices in this as in other matters (Holtzmann, H. C.), but at passover time there would be plenty of coins bearing Caesar’s image and inscription to be had even in the pockets of would-be zealots.20. superscription] Rather, inscription or effigy.Matthew 22:20. Εἰκὼν, image, likeness ἐπιγραφή, letters inscribed.Verse 20. - Image and superscription. The figure and inscription on the denarius. Jesus takes the coin, and points to it as he speaks. It must have borne a likeness of the emperor, and,therefore, as Edersheim remarks, must have been either a foreign one (Roman) or possibly one of the Tetrareh Philip, who on some of his coins introduced the image of Tiberius. The coins struck by the Romans in or for Palestine had, in accommodation to Jewish prejudices, no representation of any personage upon them. The Roman denarius at this date had on the obverse side the head of Tiberius, crowned with laurel leaves, and bore the legend, "TI CAESAR DIVI AVG FAVGVSTVS," and on the reverse, a seated female figure, with the inscription, "PONTIF MAXIM."
Images on coins were not approved by the Jews. Out of respect to this prejudice none of the earlier Herods had his own image impressed on them. Herod Agrippa I., who murdered James and imprisoned Peter, introduced the practice. The coin shown to Christ must either have been struck in Rome, or else was one of the Tetrarch Philip, who was the first to introduce the image of Caesar on strictly Jewish coins.
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