In Luke 15, verses 8-10, the Bible tells a story about a woman who loses a silver coin or drachma:

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? Then when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (NET)

Some Biblical scholars presume that this is part of a Jewish headdress known as a semedi. I was wondering if there is actual evidence that this was common in 1st century Palestine?

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Volume 39 Page 255

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    – Frank Luke
    Oct 13 '17 at 13:54
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    This garment is known as a karkush or gargush among Yemenite Jewish women. Worn from puberty until menopause. The coins were sometimes used as an emergency fund in times of scarcity. See (Hebrew) teman.org.il/content/%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%A9, and image at museumsinisrael.gov.il/he/items/Pages/…
    – user17080
    Oct 14 '17 at 16:31

I did some searching and the practice of putting coins around a headdress appears to originate in Arabic culture and was not present in the Levant prior to the Arab conquests, so while this is a charming interpretation of the lost coin, I don't think it is a contemporary one.

Here is an excerpt from Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader:

In the Arab Periods (beginning in 640 C.E.), jewelry developed more toward styles familiar in bedouin tradition. It became the domain of women’s personal property, given to brides upon marriage, worn as a kind of bank account (not hoarded), and as amuletic protection from misfortune as well as to bring prosperity. Silver and iron were the metals prized most, and stones of reddish colors (carnelian and agate) and amber were associated with life, health, affection, and attractiveness. Chains with pendants, especially of discs and coins, were worn with textiles on the head and facial areas. Necklaces had crescents, stars, triangles, fish, lizards, toads, “cucumber amulets” (cylinder containers), pear-shaped pendants, and an array of smaller chains and coins. Religious phrases of praise, blessing, and protection, especially against the “evil eye” of envy, psychic and social negativity, were inscribed. Bangle bracelets were ornately decorated and widened to the clip and cuff styles, and rings were complimentary to them. The decorations were appropriate to the embroidery work on head and dress textiles. Silversmithing for this magnificent jewelry came virtually to an end in the 1960s (C.E.); it had been replaced by the mass-produced gold jewelry that developed in the 1940s and became popular in the second half of the 20th century.

Platt, E. E. (2012). Jewelry in the Levant. In S. Richard (Ed.), Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader (p. 203). Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.


I'd agree that this is a very good question, I'd not heard of the potential of the coin in question being one presumably dropped from a woman's headress. The practice I've noticed in photographs of women from cultures at least adjacent to Palestine and surely both headdresses and coins have been around a long time. Perhaps in juxtaposition to Angels mentioned the retrieval of such a coin for restoring her glory compels her giving testimony to her neighbors.

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