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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Weights And Measures

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In the O.T. money was weighed. The first recorded transaction in scripture is that of Abraham buying the field of Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver, which Abraham 'weighed' to Ephron. Genesis 23:15,16 . The shekel here was a weight. Judas Maccabaeus, about B.C. 141, was the first to coin Jewish money, though there existed doubtless from of old pieces of silver of known value, which passed from hand to hand without being always weighed. Herod the Great coined money with his name on it; and Herod Agrippa had some coins; but after that the coins in Palestine were Roman. The following tables must be taken approximately only: the authorities differ.

WEIGHTS.

The principal weights in use were as follows with their approximate equivalents:

AVOIRDUPOIS.

Pounds ozs. drams.

Gerah (1/20 of a shekel)……………………………. - - 0.439

Bekah (½ of a shekel) ……………………………… - - 4.390

Shekel……………………………………………… - - 8.780

Maneh or pound (60 shekels).……………………… 2 0 14.800

Talent, kikkah (50 maneh).…………………………. 102 14 4.000

Talent of Lead (Zechariah 5:7 ), 'weighty piece,' margin.

Talent (Revelation 16:21 ): if Attic = about 55 lbs.

Pound, λίτρα (John 12:3 ; John 19:39 ) about 12 oz. avoirdupois.

It must be noted that there are two shekels mentioned in the Old Testament: one according to 'the king's weight,' probably the standard shekel used for all ordinary business, as in Exodus 38:29 ; Joshua 7:21 ; 2 Samuel 14:26 ; Amos 8:5 ; and another called the 'shekel of the sanctuary,' of which it is said in Exodus 30:13 ; Leviticus 27:25 ; Numbers 3:47 ; Numbers 18:16 , 'the shekel is 20 gerahs,' implying perhaps that the common shekel was different. Michaelis says that the proportion was as 5 to 3, the business shekel being the smaller.

This seems confirmed by the word maneh in the following passages. By comparing 1 Kings 10:17 with 2 Chronicles 9:16 it will be seen that a maneh equals 100 shekels (probably, for the word 'shekels' has been added by the translators); whereas in Ezekiel 45:12 the maneh equals 60 shekels, because the latter would be shekels of the sanctuary. The passage in Ezekiel is obscure, but the sense appears to be that three weights (20,25, and 15 shekels) should be their maneh, which makes, as in the above table, a maneh = 60 shekels. Some modern tables give the maneh as equal to 50 shekels, from the supposition that this is what is meant in Ezekiel 45:12 in the LXX. The maneh is translated 'pound' in 1 Kings 10:17 ; Ezra 2:69 ; Nehemiah 7:71,72 .

The word bekah occurs in Exodus 38:26 ; it signifies 'half,' and is 'half shekel' in Exodus 30:13 .

MONEY.

If the weights in the foregoing list be approximately correct, and silver be taken at ??? per ounce, and gold at £ ??? per ounce Troy, the money value will be about

£

Gerah (1/20 of a shekel)………………. ??? Exodus 30:13 .

Bekah, beqa (½ of a shekel)………….. ??? Genesis 24:22 .

Shekel………………………………… ??? Genesis 23:15 .

Dram (daric, a Persian gold coin) about ??? 1 Chronicles 29:7 .

Maneh or pound, 60 shekels………….. ??? Ezekiel 45:12 .

Talent of Silver……………………….. ??? Ezra 7:22 .

Talent of Gold………………………… ??? Exodus 25:39 .

NOTE the above is a / "chart"/ but it should be OK to insert whatever values you decide under ??? without upsetting the layout

With respect to 'Piece of money' (Genesis 33:19 ; Job 42:11 ) and 'Piece of silver' (Joshua 24:32 ) qesitah, Gesenius compares Genesis 33:19 with Genesis 23:16 and supposes the weight to equal 4 shekels.

£

Mite, λεπτόν…………………………………… ??? Mark 12:42 .

Farthing, κοδράντης …………………………… ??? Matthew 5:26 .

Farthing, ἀσσάριον………………………….….. ??? Matthew 10:29 .

Penny, δηνάριον…………………………….….. ??? Matthew 20:2 .

Piece of silver, δραχμή………………………..… ??? Luke 15:8,9 .

Tribute money, δίδραχμον…………………..….. ??? Matthew 17:24 .

Piece of money, στατήρ……………………..….. ??? Matthew 17:27 .

Pound, μνᾶ ...………………………………..…. ??? Luke 19:13-25 .

Talent (Roman) τάλαντον…………………..…... ??? Matthew 18:24 .

Piece of silver, ἀργύριον ……………………..…. ??? in Matthew 26:15 .

Money, ἀργύριον …………………………….. indefinite Matthew 25:18 .

The Greek word ἀργύριον is the common word for 'silver,' and 'money,' as l'argent in French. 'Piece of silver' in the A.V. is always ἀργύριον except in Luke 15:8,9 , where it is δραχμή.

The above gives no idea of the purchasing value of these sums, which often varied. A penny (δηνάριον) was the usual daily wages of a working man: its purchasing value then must have been considerably more than it is now.

LIQUID MEASURE.

Caph………………………………………..…. 0.552 pints

Log (1.3 caphs)………………………………... 0.718 ' Leviticus 14:10-24 .

Cab (4 logs)…………………………………… 2.872 ' 2 Kings 6:25 .

Hin (12 logs)………………………………….. 1.077 gallons Exodus 29:40 .

Bath, Ephah (72 logs)………………………..… 6.462 ' 1 Kings 7:26 .

Cor, Homer (720 logs)……………………….. 64.620 ' Ezekiel 45:14 .

Pot, ξέστης……………..…………………… 0.96 pints Mark 7:4,8 .

Measure, βάτος ……..…………………….... 7.5 gallons Luke 16:6 .

Firkin, μετρητής…………………………….. 8.625 ' John 2:6 .

Measure, κόρος……………………………… 64.133 ' Luke 16:7 .

DRY MEASURE.

Log ………………………………………….. 0.718 pints

Cab (4 logs) …………………………………. 2.872 ' 2 Kings 6:25 .

Omer (1.8 cabs) …………………………….. 5.169 ' Exodus 16:16,36 .

Tenth deal (tenth of an Ephah) ……………….. 5.169 ' Exodus 29:40 .

Measure, seah (6 cabs) ……………………… 2.154 gallons 1 Samuel 25:18 .

Ephah (18 cabs) …………………………….. 6.462 " Leviticus 5:11 .

Half Homer, lethek (90 cabs) ……………….. 4.040 bushels Hosea 3:2 .

Homer, chomer (180 cabs) …………………. 8.081 ' Leviticus 27:16 .

Measure, χοῖνιξ …………………………….. 2.000 pints Revelation 6:6 .

Bushel, μόδιος ……………………………… 2.000 gallons Matthew 5:15 .

Measure, σάτον …………………………….. 2.875 ' Matthew 13:33 .

LONG MEASURE.

Finger or Digit, etsba ………………………. .7584 inches Jeremiah 52:21 .

Handbreadth or Palm (4 digits), tephach 3.0337 ' 1 Kings 7:26 .

Span, zereth (3 palms) …………………….. 9.1012 ' Exodus 28:16 .

Cubit, ammah, πῆχυς (2 spans) …………… 18.2025 ' Genesis 6:15 .

Fathom, ὀργυιά (4Cubits) ………………… 6.0675 feet Acts 27:28 .

Reed, qaneh, (6 cubits) ……………………. 9.1012 ' Ezekiel 40:3-8 .

Furlong, στάδιον (400 cubits) …………….. 606.750 ' Luke 24:13 .

Sabbath-day's journey (2000 cubits) ……... 3033.75 ' Acts 1:12 .

Mile, μίλιον (3,200 cubits) ………………. 4854.0 ' Matthew 5:41 .

Acre. As much land as a yoke of oxen would plough in a day. 1 Samuel 14:14 .

The above measures are calculated from the cubit being the same as the Hebrew ammah and the Greek πῆχυς, which latter is found in Matthew 6:27 ; Luke 12:25 ; John 21:8 ; Revelation 21:17 . This may be called the short cubit (perhaps not the shortest: See CUBIT). In Ezekiel 41:8 is the expression, 'a full reed of six great cubits.' The 'great cubit ' is supposed to be a cubit and a handbreadth. This would make Ezekiel's reed to be about 10.618 feet. By adding a sixth to any of the above measurements they will correspond to the great cubit. There can be no doubt, however, that the 'furlong' and the 'mile' were Greek measures.

Though all these reckonings are only approximate, they help to throw light upon many passages of scripture. Thus Isaiah 5:10 shows that there is a curse resting upon the fields of a covetous man. In Revelation 6:6 the quantities prove that the time then spoken of will be one of great scarcity, etc.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Weights And Measures '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/w/weights-and-measures.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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