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After my classes were over for the day, I decided to go on a walk into the Old City. I needed a brain break. Entering Jaffa Gate, the limestone radiated the summer heat on my face as I headed toward David Street. Once I started down the small street, I was surrounded by shopkeepers selling their goods and juicers yelling, “Fresh juice! Only ten shekels!” It was a wonderful summer day.

Jerusalem Roman pavementI turned and walked down the cardo and passed by a family bakery that has been in the Old City for generations. Half way up the street, I walked over original Roman paving stones. It was an amazing feeling – I was walking through history!

In the Christian Quarter, I visited Zak. It had been a busy day for him, and he was taking a break. He was glad to see me! I told Zak about how I was studying the Persian Period in my archaeology class. Ancient Israel was sent into exile during the Persian Period by the Babylonians. Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezra all write about it. I had no idea that Zak had artifacts from the Babylonian exile in his shop!

Seeing my excitement, Zak chuckled and reached into his showcase. He took out a tiny, pea sized silver coin and gently placed it into my hands. I prayed that I wouldn’t sneeze!

Although it was small, I could just make out the Hebrew characters on it: “Y-H-D.” Then, I realized I knew where this coin was from! It was one of the first coins in Ancient Israel and it first appeared during the Babylonian exile, when the Babylonians renamed Israel “the Province of Jehud (Judah)”. I was looking at an artifact I’d only heard about in class!

My face lit up – I could barely contain my excitement! I was closer to the story of Daniel in that moment than I ever had been before! I suddenly knew more about Daniel’s background in the Babylonian court than my friends. I HELD a piece of history; a background detail of the Bible. My heart fluttered: this Yehud coin was pea-sized proof that Ancient Israel was really present in the Land thousands of years ago.

I still carry the memory of this moment with me.

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