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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Talent

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representing the Greek τάλαντον, Lat. talentum, is the rendering of the Heb. and Chald. kikkar, כַּכָּר, a circle, the coin being no doubt of that form. It was the largest weight among the Hebrews, being used for metals, whether gold (1 Kings 9:14; 1 Kings 10:10, etc.), silver (2 Kings 5:22), lead (Zechariah 5:7), bronze (Exodus 38:29), or iron (1 Chronicles 29:7). A hill sufficient for the site of a city was sold for two talents of silver (1 Kings 16:24); and for 1000 talents of silver the friendship of the Assyrian king was purchased (2 Kings 15:19); another Assyrian king laid the kingdom of Judah under a tribute of 300 talents of silver and 30 of gold (2 Kings 18:14); a similar tribute imposed by an Egyptian king consisted of 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold (23, 33); the crown of an Ammonitish king weighed one talent of gold (2 Samuel 12:30). The sacred utensils of the Tabernacle and the Temple amounted to many talents of silver and gold (Exodus 25:39; Exodus 38:24-25; Exodus 38:27; 1 Kings 9:14, etc.). But there must be some error in the numbers at 1 Chronicles 29 (see Kitto, Pict. Bible, note ad loc.). (See NUMBER). In the post-exilian period, likewise, talents were a mode of estimation (1 Maccabees 11:28; 1 Maccabees 13:16; 1 Maccabees 13:19; 1 Maccabees 15:31; 2 Maccabees 3, 4, 8, etc.). In the New Test. the talent only occurs in a parable (Matthew 25:15 sq.), and as an estimate of a stone's weight (Revelation 16:21). From Exodus 38:25-26, it appears that one talent was equivalent to 3000 shekels of the sanctuary (Schmidt, Biblathem. p. 183; Bockh, Metrol. Unters. p. 55). (See SHEKEL). As the mina (q.v.) consisted of 50 sacred shekels, it follows that the talent was equal to 60 mine, just as the Attic talent had 60 minae. SEE METROLOGY.

TALENT figuratively signifies any gift or opportunity God gives to men for the promotion of his glory. "Everything almost," says Mr. Scott, "that we are, or possess, or meet with, may be considered as a talent; for a good or a bad use may be made of every natural endowment, or providential appointment, or they may remain unoccupied through inactivity and selfishness. Time, health, vigor of body, and the power of exertion and enduring fatigue the natural and acquired abilities of the mind, skill in any lawful art or science, and the capacity for close mental application-the gift of speech, and that of speaking with fluency and propriety, and in a convincing, attractive, or persuasive manner wealth, influence, or authority a man's situation in the Church, the community, or relative life-and the various occurrences which make way for him to attempt anything of a beneficial tendency; these, and many others that can scarcely be enumerated, are talents which the consistent Christian will improve to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind. Nay, this improvement procures an increase of talents, and gives a man Ian accession of influence and an accumulating power of doing good; because it tends to establish his reputation for prudence, piety, integrity, sincerity, and disinterested benevolence: it gradually forms him to an habitual readiness to engage in beneficent designs, and to conduct them in a gentle, unobtrusive, and unassuming manner, it disposes others to regard him with increasing confidence and affection, and to approach him with satisfaction; and it procures for him the countenance of many persons whose assistance he can employ in accomplishing his own salutary purposes."

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Talent'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/talent.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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