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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Fathom

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The only instance of this measurement is found in Acts 27:28, where by successive soundings a depth of 20 and 15 fathoms is obtained. The word employed (ὀργυιά; cf. Herod, ii. 149. 4) denotes the length from finger tip to finger tip of the outstretched arms, measuring across the breast. In tables of length it appears = 4 cubits = 6 feet. The actual measurement thus depends on the length of the cubit or foot. According to recent authorities, the Roman-Attic ft. is given as equivalent to 971 English ft., which yields 70 in. (approximately) as the length of the fathom. This is slightly under our present-day measure of 6 feet. For the fathom of Julian of Ascalon (74. 49 in.) see Encyclopaedia Biblica , article ‘Weights and Measures.’

W. Cruickshank.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Fathom'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/f/fathom.html. 1906-1918.

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