Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Imitation shekel
15th century
Bronze, cast
Diam: 3.25 cm
The Feuchtwanger Collection, purchased and donated by Baruch and Ruth Rappaport, Geneva
Accession number: HF 0663 ; 755/083
A flaming altar similar to the one appearing on this "fake shekel," also adorns a Hanukkah lamp from Italy. These shekels, minted from the 15th century onward in different parts of Europe, were sold to pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, as if they were the authentic coins paid as bribery to Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Jesus. The design was based on Nachmanides’s erroneous interpretation of the urn which appeared on the ancient shekels as the "incense altar."

Shachar, Isaiah, Jewish Tradition in Art: The Feuchtwanger Collection of Judaica, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1981

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir