Both sides of this silver coin, minted about 21 C.E., show Arabian King Aretas IV. Coins like this one had an inscription (partly shown on the image to the left) that reads in full: “Aretas king of Nabataea, lover of his people.” The capital of the Nabataean kingdom was Petra, located in modern-day Jordan to the south of the Dead Sea. (See App. B10, B13.) Aretas ruled from about 9 B.C.E. to about 40 C.E. He is mentioned once in the Bible, in connection with Paul’s early preaching activity in Damascus about 34-36 C.E. At that time, Damascus was in some way under the control of Aretas IV. The governor whom Paul mentions at 2Co 11:32 apparently served as King Aretas’ representative there. (See study note on 2Co 11:32.) During his reign, Aretas minted an enormous quantity of silver and bronze coins, many of which have been found far from ancient Nabataea. Such coins bearing his name indicate that a king by the name of Aretas was a historical person who lived at the same time as the apostle Paul.
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