In the Fourth or Mark Master's Degree, it is said that the value of a Mark is "a Jewish half- shekel of silver, or twenty-five cents in the curreney of this country." The shekel of silver was a weight of great antiquity among the Jews, its value being about a half-dollar. In the time of Solomon, as well as long before and long after, until the Babylonish exile, the Hebrews had no regularly stamped money, but generally used in traffic a currency which consisted of uncoiled shekels, which they weighed out to one another. The earliest specimens of the coined shekel which we know are of the coinage of Simon Maceabeus, issued about the year 144 B.C. Of these, we generally find on the obverse the sacred pot of manna, with the inscription, Shekel Israel, in the old Samaritan character; on the reverse, the rod of Aaron, having three buds, with the inscription, Jerushalem Kadoshah, or Jerusalem the Holy, in a similar character.
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