Overview

Measures, Weights, and Values


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A table reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press from the Revised English Bible.

No precise modern equivalents can be given for the units of measurement, weight, and value used in the ancient world, which themselves varied at different times, in different places, and in different contexts of use. The approximate equivalents given below may be helpful as an indication of the order of magnitude implied by a particular term.

length

UnitApprox. equivalent in metresAs read at

Hand's breadth 0.075 Ezek. 40: 5

Span 0.225 1 Sam. 17: 4 (REB marg.)

Cubit (short) = 6 hand's breadths 0.45 Judg. 3: 16 (REB marg.)

Cubit (long) = 7 hand's breadths 0.525 2 Chr. 3: 3

Weights and Values

UnitApprox. equivalent in grammesAs read at

Gerah 0.6 Ezek. 45: 12

Shekel (sacred) = 20 gerahs 12 Lev. 27: 25

Mina = 50 shekels 600 1 Kgs. 10: 17

Mina = 60 shekels 720 Ezek. 45: 12

Talent = 3,000 shekels 36,000 Exod. 38: 25

Mention is made (Gen. 23: 16) of a shekel of ‘the standard recognized by merchants’; its relationship to the sacred standard is uncertain.

The ‘pound’ of the New Testament (John 12: 3) may be referred to the Roman standard of about 317 grammes.

Related to gold or silver, the weights tabulated above are frequently used as measures of value. In the Old Testament ‘beka’ (lit. half) is used to signify a half-shekel (Exod. 38: 26). The ‘talent’ of the New Testament (Matt. 18: 24) evidently signifies a large but not precise monetary value.

Coins

The ‘daric’ (1 Chron. 29: 7) was a gold coin weighing just over 8 grammes, said to have been equivalent to a month's pay for a soldier in the Persian army. What is referred to as a ‘drachma’ (Neh. 7: 70) may have been a silver coin of about 4.4 grammes.

The ‘denarius’ of the New Testament (Mark 14: 5) is said to have been the equivalent of a day's wage for a labourer.

Measures of Capacity: Dry Measures

UnitApprox. equivalent in litresAs read at

Kab 2.5 2 Kgs. 6: 25

Omer 4.5 Exod. 16: 32

Seah 15 1 Sam. 25: 18 (REB marg.)

Ephah = 10 omers 45 Exod. 16: 36

Kor = 10 ephahs 450 1 Kgs. 4: 22

Homer = 10 ephahs 450 Ezek. 45: 11

Liquid Measures

UnitApprox. equivalent in litresAs read at

Log 1 Lev. 14: 10

Hin = 12 log 12 Num. 15: 7

Bath = 6 hin 72 Ezek. 45: 14

Kor = 10 bath 720 Ezek. 45: 14

From A Dictionary of the Bible in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Biblical Studies.



Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.