A Roman silver coin that weighed about 3.85 g (0.124 oz t) and hence would have a modern value of 74 cents. It bore a likeness of the head of Caesar and was “the head tax coin” exacted by the Romans from the Jews. (Mt 22:19-21) In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, agricultural laborers commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour workday. (Mt 20:2) Hence, Revelation 6:6 depicts an extreme condition in stating that a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley would cost a denarius (a full day’s wage).
If the costly nard that Mary, Lazarus’ sister, used in greasing Jesus Christ had been sold for 300 denarii (nearly a year’s wages), likely this would have meant that a sizable amount of money would have gone into the money box kept by Judas Iscariot. Little wonder that dishonest Judas Iscariot raised strong objections, since he would be unable to embezzle even a fraction of this large sum.—Joh 12:3-6; 13:29; Mr 14:3-11.
The neighborly Samaritan of Jesus’ illustration spent two denarii (two days’ wages) to help an unknown stranger, and he declared himself willing to care for additional expenses in his behalf. (Lu 10:33-35) By contrast, in one of Jesus’ illustrations emphasizing the need of being forgiving, a slave whose debt of 60,000,000 denarii had been canceled was unwilling to pardon the 100-denarius debt of a fellow slave.—Mt 18:24-33.
[Picture on page 614]
Two sides of a Roman denarius