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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5615 weights and measures, weights
5615 weights and measures, weights

5615 weights and measures, weights

Ancient weights were usually made of stone or metal, often inscribed with their weight and standard, the shekel being the basic weight of all Semitic nations. Weights of gold and silver served as currency, since coinage was not invented until the seventh century B.C. Weights are given in ascending order, with their approximate imperial and metric equivalents.

Gerah (1/20 shekel): about 1/50 ounce (about 0.6 gram)

Lev 27:25 See also Ex 30:13; Nu 3:47; Nu 18:16; Eze 45:12

Beka (10 gerahs): about 1/5 ounce (about 5.8 grams)

2Ch 9:15-16 pp 1Ki 10:16-17 See also Ge 24:22; Ex 38:25-26

Pim (2/3 shekel): about 1/4 ounce (about 7.7 grams)

1Sa 13:21 The Hebrew word translated “two thirds of a shekel” is “pim”, its only mention in Scripture.

Shekel (2 bekas): about 2/5 ounce (about 11.5 grams)

The shekel in relation to other weights Eze 45:12

The shekel as a weight of metal objects 1Sa 17:5 See also 1Sa 17:7; 2Sa 21:16

The shekel as a weight of food Eze 4:10

The shekel as a weight of gold or silver objects 2Ch 3:9 See also Ge 24:22; Nu 7:13-14; Jdg 8:26

The shekel as a weight of gold or silver Ge 23:14-16 The phrase “the weight current among the merchants” reflects the local variation in standards. See also Ge 37:28; Dt 22:28-29; Jos 7:20-21; Jdg 17:1-4; 2Sa 18:11-12; 1Ki 10:29 pp 2Ch 1:17; 2Ki 5:4-5; Ne 5:15; Jer 32:9; Da 5:25-27 “Tekel” can mean “weighed” or “shekel”.

The royal shekel 2Sa 14:26 The royal shekel, also known in Babylonia, was slightly heavier (at about 13 grams) than the standard shekel and reflects David’s attempts to bring some standardisation to this weight.

The sanctuary shekel Nu 18:15-16 The sanctuary shekel was more precisely regulated than the common shekel, weighing exactly 20 gerahs. The common shekel may have weighed slightly less as a result of greater handling and wider circulation. See also Ex 30:13-15,22-25; Ex 38:24-26; Lev 5:15; Lev 27:1-7; Nu 3:46-50

Mina (50 shekels): about 1 1/4 pounds (about 0.6 kilogram)

Eze 45:12 Although the mina is valued here at 60 shekels, there is some evidence that in the pre-exilic period it was valued at 50 shekels. See also 1Ki 10:17; Ezr 2:69; Ne 7:71-72; Da 5:25-26 “Mene” can mean both “numbered” and “mina”; Lk 19:11-27 By NT times the mina had become coinage rather than simply a weight of silver, and was worth about three months’wages.

Talent (3,000 shekels, 60 minas): about 75 pounds (about 34 kilograms)

1Ch 29:7 See also Ex 25:39; 2Sa 12:30 pp 1Ch 20:2; 1Ki 10:14 pp 2Ch 9:13; 1Ki 16:24; 2Ki 18:14; Ezr 8:26; Est 3:9; Mt 18:24-25 By NT times the talent had become coinage, and ten thousand talents would have been the equivalent of millions of pounds sterling; Mt 25:14-30

Other minor weights

Kesitah Ge 33:19 The price in the original Hebrew is “one hundred kesitahs”, a unit of unknown weight and value.

Litra The word translated “pint” in Jn 12:3 and “pound” in 19:39 is “litra”, a loanword from the Latin “libra”, meaning “pound” and weighing 12 ounces (327 grams): Jn 12:3; Jn 19:39

Peres Da 5:28 “Peres” means “division” and denotes a half-shekel.

See also


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