Whose Image Is on the Coin?

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“…Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21 NIV)

My Dad was preaching on this passage and dug up an interesting perspective from one of the old books he likes to draw on. The commentator noted that in the ancient world a conqueror would make the conquered use money with their new ruler’s face (a living ruler was preferred to a dead one.) This was a symbol and constant reminder of the ruler’s domination of his subjects.

How important is this symbolic domination to the US empire in its push for global use of the US dollar? I’m not sure, though I’m beginning to think that our contemporary empire is not so different from empires of the past.

In an age of a fiat imperial money there is of course one more crucial advantage beyond the symbolic to having the subject peoples accept the emperor’s coin: You can get valuable goods from your subjects in exchange for cheap pieces of paper.

9:26 am on July 16, 2011