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There is no certainty about present-day equivalents of many of the measurements given in the Bible. These measurements probably varied considerably even in Bible times. (Concerning measurements of weight and the cheating that was common where there were few official standards, see WEIGHTS.)


Measures of capacity for grain and for liquids sometimes had different names. The largest measure of capacity was the homer, or cor, equal to about 370 litres (Leviticus 27:16; 1 Kings 4:22). The homer, or cor, was divided into ten smaller measures. In the case of grain this measure was called an ephah (Judges 6:19; Ezekiel 45:11) and in the case of liquids a bath (Ezra 7:22; Ezekiel 45:11). The grain measure, the ephah, was divided into ten omers (Exodus 16:36). The liquid measure, the bath, was divided into six hins (Leviticus 23:13). A hin was divided into twelve logs (Leviticus 14:10).

People in ancient times, as in the present day, often measured length by calculating according to the span of their fingers, the length of their arms, the distance they could walk in a set time, and so on. The basic measurement of length, the cubit, was the approximate distance from the elbow to the tip of the finger. More exactly, the cubit was about forty-four centimetres or eighteen inches (Exodus 25:23; Deuteronomy 3:11; Revelation 21:17; see CUBIT). Half a cubit was a span, the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger on an outstretched hand (Exodus 28:16; 1 Samuel 17:4). A handbreadth, or four fingers, was the distance across the hand at the base of the four fingers. It was equal to about a third of a span (Exodus 25:25; Jeremiah 52:21).

Longer distances may have been calculated in cubits (Numbers 35:4), but more often they were estimated approximately; for example, the distance a fired arrow might travel (Genesis 21:16), the length of a ploughed furrow (1 Samuel 14:14), or the distance a person could walk in a day (Numbers 11:31; Genesis 30:36). A Sabbath day’s journey was the distance that the Jewish leaders laid down as the maximum a person was allowed to travel on the Sabbath day. It was about one kilometre (Exodus 16:29; Acts 1:12).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Measurement'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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Tuesday, November 20th, 2018
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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