Written on January 22, 2018 • Last edit: February 7, 2019
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The Israeli Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on 14 of May 1948 (5 Iyar 5708) on the eve of the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine with Israel becoming an independent sate. The State of Israel was voted in as a full member of the United Nations on 11 May 1949. Before Independence in 1948 the British authority issued a series of coins for the British Mandate for Palestine. Over the years Israel has changed currencies four times.

National symbol

The Emblem of the State of Israel (Hebrew: סמל מדינת ישראל) shows a menorah surrounded by an olive branch on each side, and the writing "ישראל" (Hebrew for Israel) below it. Most commonly light blue and white, the coat of arms does appear in different colour combinations depending on the use.


Palestine Pound

In 1920 the United Kingdom was granted a League of Nations mandate over Palestine. In 1927 they introduced the Palestine Pound. Unlike the British Pound, the Palestinian Pound was decimal, divided into 1000 mils. The Palestine pound was used in British Palestine until the end of the mandate in 1948.

Israel then adopted and used the Palestine Pound from 1948 to 23 June 1952 where it was replaced by the Israeli Pound/Lira. Israel also changed the name Mil to Prutah during 1949.

The Palestine Pound was also used in Transjordan from 1927 to 25 May 1946, Jordan from 25 May 1946 to 30 September 1950, the Jordanian-occupied West Bank from 1948 to 30 September 1950, the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip from 1948 to April 1951 and very briefly in Cyprus in 1955.

Israeli Lira (Pound)

In 1952, the Government of the State of Israel introduced the Israeli Pound/Lira. The pound/Lira was divided into 1000 Prutot (singular: Pruta or Prutah) until 1960. From 1960 onwards, it was divided into 100 Agorot (singular: Agora).

(Old) Israeli Shekel/Sheqel

In the 1960's, a debate began brewing over the fact that the currency of Israel did not have a distinctly Hebrew name. In 1980, the Bank of Israel finally realized this, and they introduced the Israeli Shekel/Sheqel at the rate of 10 Lirot = 1 Sheqel (שקל). The Shekel/Sheqel was also divided into 100 New Agorot (singular: New Agora). This currency didn't last long, and was replaced, in 1985, by the New Israeli Sheqel at the rate of 1000 for 1 due to inflation.

New Israeli Shekel/Sheqel

This is the currency that is currently used in Israel including the Palestinian Territories. The New Israeli Shekel/Sheqel was introduced in 1985 replacing the (Old) Israeli Shekel/Sheqel due to inflation. The New Shekel is divided into 100 Agorot.

Coinage History

Judea and the ancient Land of Israel

During the Kingdom of Judah (930-586BC) bronze currency rings of varying weights and small silver bits and ingots were issued to facilitate trade. The silver bits and ingot are known as Hacksilber and were in the denomination of the Gerah where 20 Gerahim (Gerah) = 1 Shekel.

Either just before or after the Persian conquest of the region in 539 BCE the first coins of the region were struck in Philistian towns such as Gaza. Soon after, the first Judean coins were struck in the city of Jerusalem in the denomination of the Gerah where 20 Gerahim (Gerah) = 1 Shekel and the Ma'ah-Obol where 24 Ma'im-Obols (Ma'ah-Obol) = 1 Shekel.

Again during the Macedonian Period (333 BCE-302 BCE) and the Ptolemaic Period (302 BC-260 BC) the Ma'ah-Obol was used as the denomination for all coins struck by the Judeans in Jerusalem.

Coins were also Issued during the Hasmonean Dynasty and Kingdom from around 140 BCE-37 BCE. The coins were struck in the denomination of the Prutah.

The Herodian Dynasty (37 BCE-95 CE) also struck coins in the denomination of the Prutah as well as other unidentified units.

The Roman Prefects and Procurators issued their own Prutah coinage.

During the First Jewish-Roman War (66-70) also know as the Great Revolt, the Jewish rebels issued bronze Prutah coins and silver Shekel and Half Shekel coins where 256 Prutot (Prutah) = 1 Shekel.

The last ancient Jewish and Judean coins were struck during the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135). Silver Shekel or Sela and Zuz coins were issued as well as other bronze coins. These coins were made by striking the designs over Roman coins. 4 Zuzzim (Zuz) = 1 Sela or Shekel. Following the Roman victory over the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the Roman province of Judaea was renamed Palestina and joined to the Roman province of Syria to create the province of Syria-Palestina.

From here on throughout the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods local city coins were struck and issued. By the time of the Ottoman period, coins were no longer being struck in the area except for a few local Jewish issued tokens during the late Ottoman period and during the British period.

British Mandate of Palestine

In total the British authorities issued ten types of coin. These were a 1, 2 Mils coins made from bronze, 5, 10 and 20 Mils made from copper-nickel and a 50 and 100 Mils made from .720 silver. During the Second World War the 5, 10 and 20 Mils made from copper-nickel were instead made from bronze.

State of Israel

From 1948 onwards, Israel issued coins in lieu of Palestine. Most Israeli coins continue to dwell heavily on the past, using many Judean coin designs. Most coins of Israel are in Art Deco style, even though most countries have abandoned Art Deco coins. They also use many designs important to the Jewish people and identity.

Reading Israeli and Palestinian Coins

The Hebrew Calendar

You may find a tool to help you with Hebrew calendar here within the Numisdoc section Dates & calendars.

Common Phrases on Palestinian Coins

فلسطين = Palestine
مِل = Mil (1/1000 Pound)
ملات = Mils

פלשתינה = Palestine
(א״י) = Land of Israel
מיל = Mil
מילים = Mils

PALESTINE = Palestine (Mandatory)
Mil = Mil (1/1000 Pound)
Mils = Mils (?/1000 Pound; more than one mil)

Common Phrases on Israeli Coins

ישראל = Israel
ישראלית = Israeli
לירה = Lira (Pound)
שקל = Sheqel/Shekel
לירות = Lirot (Pounds)
שקלים = Sheqalim/Shekels
פרוטה = Pruta (1/1000 Lira)
אגורה = Agora (1/100 Sheqel, 1/100 Lira)
פרותות = Prutot (?/1000 Lira)
אגורות = Agorot (?/100 Sheqel, ?/100 Lira)
חנוכה = Chanukah, Hanukah (A Jewish Holiday in December)