What does Weights And Measures mean in the Bible?

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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Weights And Measures
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES . Since the most important of all ancient Oriental systems of weights and measures, the Babylonian , seems to have been based on a unit of length (the measures of capacity and weight being scientifically derived there from), it is reasonable to deal with the measures of length before proceeding to measures of capacity and weight. At the same time it seems probable that the measures of length in use in Palestine were based on a more primitive, and (so far as we know) unscientific system, which is to be connected with Egypt. The Babylonian system associated with Gudea ( c [1] . b.c. 3000), on statues of whom a scale, indicating a cubit of 30 digits or 19⅝ inches, has been found engraved, was not adopted by the Hebrews.
I. Measures of Length
The Hebrew unit was a cubit 1 / 6 of a reed, Ezekiel 40:5 ), containing 2 spans or 6 palms or 24 finger’s breadths. The early system did not recognize the foot or the fathom. Measurements were taken both by the 6-cubit rod or reed and the line or ‘fillet’ ( Ezekiel 40:3 , Jeremiah 31:39 ; Jeremiah 52:21 , 1 Kings 7:15 ).
The ancient Hebrew literary authorities for the early Hebrew cubit are as follows. The ‘cubit of a man’ (Deuteronomy 3:11 ) was the unit by which the ‘bedstead’ of Og, king of Bashan, was measured (cf. Revelation 21:17 ). This implies that at the time to which the passage belongs (apparently not long before the time of Ezekiel) the Hebrews were familiar with more than one cubit, of which that in question was the ordinary working cubit. Solomon’s Temple was laid out on the basis of a cubit ‘after the first (or ancient) measure’ ( 2 Chronicles 3:3 ). Now Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 40:5 ; Ezekiel 43:13 ) prophesies the building of a Temple on a unit which he describes as a cubit and a band’s breadth, i.e. 7/5 of the ordinary cubit. As in his vision he is practically reproducing Solomon’s Temple, we may infer that Solomon’s cubit, i.e. the ancient cubit, was also 7 /5 of the ordinary cubit of Ezekiel’s time. We thus have an ordinary cubit of 6, and what we may call (by analogy with the Egyptian system) the royal cubit of 7 hand’s breadths. For this double system is curiously parallel to the Egyptian, in which there was a common cubit of 0.450 m. or 17.72 in., which was 6 /7 of the royal cubit of 0.525 m. or 20.67 in. (these data are derived from actual measuring rods). A similar distinction between a common and a royal norm existed in the Babylonian weight-system. Its object there was probably to give the government an advantage in the case of taxation; probably also in the case of measures of length the excess of the royal over the common measure had a similar object.
We have at present no means of ascertaining the exact dimensions of the Hebrew ordinary and royal cubits. The balance of evidence is certainly in favour of a fairly close approximation to the Egyptian system. The estimates vary from 16 to 25.2 inches. They are based on: (1) the Siloam inscription , which says: ‘The waters flowed from the outlet to the Pool 1200 cubits,’ or, according to another reading, ‘1000 cubits.’ The length of the canal is estimated at 537.6 m., which yields a cubit of 0.525 to 0.527 m. (20.67 to 20.75 in.) or 0.538 m. (21.18 in.) according to the reading adopted. Further uncertainty is occasioned by the possibility of the number 1200 or 1000 being only a round number. The evidence of the Siloam inscription is thus of a most unsatisfactory kind. (2) The measurements of tombs . Some of these appear to be constructed on the basis of the Egyptian cubit; others seem to yield cubits of 0.575 m. (about 22.6 in.) or 0.641 m. (about 25.2 in.). The last two cubits seem to be improbable. The measurements of another tomb (known as the Tomb of Joshua) seem to confirm the deduction of the cubit of about 0.525 m. (3) The measurement of grains of barley . This has been objected to for more than one reason. But the Rabbinical tradition allowed 144 barley-corns of medium size, laid side by side, to the cubit; and it is remarkable that a recent careful attempt made on these lioes resulted in a cubit of 17.77 in. (0.451 m.), which is the Egyptian common cubit. (4) Recently it has been pointed out that Josephus , when using Jewish measures of capacity, etc., which differ from the Greek or Roman, is usually careful to give an equation explaining the measures to his Greek or Roman readers, while in the case of the cubit he does not do so, but seems to regard the Hebrew and the Roman-Attic as practically the same. The Roman-Attic cubit (1 1 /2 ft.) is fixed at 0.444 m. or 17.57 in., so that we have here a close approximation to the Egyptian common cubit. Probably in Josephus’ time the Hebrew common cubit was, as ascertained by the methods mentioned above, 0.450 m.; and the difference between this and the Attic-Roman was regarded by him as negligible for ordinary purposes. (5) The Mishna . No data of any value for the exact determination of the cubit are to be obtained from this source. Four cubits is given as the length of a loculus in a rock-cut tomb; it has been pointed out that, allowing some 2 inches for the bier, and taking 5 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 8 in. as the average height of the Jewish body, this gives 4 cubits = 5 ft. 10 in., or 17 1 /2 in. to the cubit. On the cubit in Herod’s Temple, see A. R. S. Kennedy in art. Temple (p. 902 b ), and in artt. in ExpT [2] xx. [3], p. 24 ff.
The general inference from the above five sources of information is that the Jews had two cubits, a shorter and a longer, corresponding closely to the Egyptian common and royal cubit. The equivalents are expressed in the following table:
Royal System. Common System. Metres. Inches. Metres. Inches. Finger’s breadth 0.022 0.86 0.019 0.74 Palm = 4 fingers 0.088 3.44 0.075 2.95 Span = 3 palms 0.262 10.33 0.225 8.86 Cubit = 2 spans 0.525 20.67 0.450 17.72 Reed = 6 cubits 3.150 124.02 2.700 106.32 Parts and multiples of the unit . The ordinary parts of the cubit have already been mentioned. They occur as follows: the finger’s breadth or digit ( Jeremiah 52:21 , the daktyl of Josephus); the palm or hand’s breadth ( 1 Kings 7:26 , Ezekiel 40:5 ; Ezekiel 40:43 ; Ezekiel 43:13 etc.); the span ( Exodus 28:16 ; Exodus 39:9 etc.). A special measure is the gômed , which was the length of the sword of Ehud ( Judges 3:16 ), and is not mentioned elsewhere. It was explained by the commentators as a short cubit (hence EV [4] ‘cubit’), and it has been suggested that it was the cubit of 5 palms, which is mentioned by Rabbi Judah. The Greeks also had a short cubit, known as the pygôn , of 5 palms, the distance from the elbow to the first joint of the fingers. The reed (= 6 cubits) is the only definite OT multiple of the cubit ( Ezekiel 40:5 ). This is the akaina of the Greek writers. The pace of 2 Samuel 6:13 is probably not meant to be a definite measure. A ‘little way’ ( Genesis 35:16 ; Genesis 48:7 , 2 Kings 5:19 ) is also indefinite. Syr. and Arab [5] , translators compared it with the parasang, but it cannot merely for that reason be regarded as fixed. A day’s journey ( Numbers 11:31 , 1 Kings 19:4 , Jonah 3:4 , Luke 2:44 ) and its multiples ( Genesis 30:36 , Numbers 10:33 ) are of course also variable.
The Sabbath day’s journey ( Acts 1:12 ) was usually computed at 2000 cubits. This was the distance by which the ark preceded the host of the Israelites, and it was consequently presumed that this distance might be covered on the Sabbath, since the host must be allowed to attend worship at the ark. The distance was doubled by a legal fiction: on the eve of the Sabbath, food was placed at a spot 2000 cubits on, and this new place thus became the traveler’s place within the meaning of the prescription of Exodus 16:29 ; there were also other means of increasing the distance. The Mt. of Olives was distant a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem, and the same distance is given by Josephus as 5 stadia , thus confirming the 2000 cubits computation. But in the Talmud the Sabbath day’s journey is equated to the mil of 3000 cubits or 7 1 /2 furlongs; and the measure ‘threescore furlongs’ of Luke 24:13 , being an exact multiple of this distance, seems to indicate that this may have been one form (the earlier?) of the Sabbath day’s journey.
In later times, a Byzantine writer of uncertain date, Julian of Ascalon, furnishes information as to the measures in use in Palestine (Provincial measures, derived from the work of the architect Julian of Ascalon, from the laws or customs prevailing in Palestine,’ is the title of the table). From this we obtain (omitting doubtful points) the following table:
1. The finger’s breadth.
2. The palm = 4 finger’s breadths.
3. The cubit = 1 1 / 2 feet = 6 palms.
4. The pace = 2 cubits = 3 feet = 12 palms.
5. The fathom = 2 paces = 4 cubits = 6 feet.
6. The reed = 1 1 /2 fathoms = 6 cubits = 9 feet = 36 palms.
7. The plethron = 10 reeds = 15 fathoms = 30 paces = 60 cubits = 90 feet.
8. The stadium or furlong = 6 plethora = 60 reeds = 100 fathoms = 200 paces = 400 cubits = 600 feet.
9. ( a ) The million or mile, ‘according to Eratosthenes and Strabo’ = 8 1 /3 stadia = 833 1 /3 fathoms.
( b ) The million ‘according to the present use’ = 7 1 /2 stadia = 750 fathoms = 1500 paces = 3000 cubits.
10. The present million of 7 1 /2 stadia = 750 ‘geometric’ fathoms = 833 1 /3 ‘simple’ fathoms; for 9 geometric fathoms = 10 simple fathoms.
We may justifiably assume that the 3000 cubits of 9 ( b ) are the royal cubits of 0. 525 m. The geometric and simple measures according to Julian thus work out as follows:
Geometric. Simple. Metres. Inches. Metres. Inches. Finger’s breadth 0.022 0.86 0.020 0.79 Palm 0.088 3.44 0.080 3.11 Cubit 0.525 20.67 0.473 18.62 Fathom 2.100 82.68 1.890 74.49 Measures of area . For smaller measures of area there seem to have been no special names, the dimensions of the sides of a square being usually stated. For land measures, two methods of computation were in use. (1) The first, as in most countries, was to state area in terms of the amount that a yoke of oxen could plough in a day (cf. the Latin jugerum ). Thus in Isaiah 5:10 (possibly also in the corrupt 1 Samuel 14:14 ) we have ‘10 yoke’ ( tsemed ) of vineyard. Although definite authority is lacking, we may perhaps equate the Hebrew yoke of land to the Egyptian unit of land measure, which was 100 royal cubits square (0.2756 hectares or 0.6810 acre). The Greeks called this measure the aroura . (2) The second measure was the amount of seed required to sow an area . Thus ‘the sowing of a homer of barley’ was computed at the price of 50 shekels of silver ( Leviticus 27:16 ). The dimensions of the trench which Elijah dug about his altar ( 1 Kings 18:32 ) have also recently been explained on the same principle; the trench ( i.e. the area enclosed by it) is described as being ‘like a house of two seahs of seed’ (AV [6] and RV [7] wrongly ‘as great as would contain two measures of seed’). This measure ‘ house of two seahs ’ is the standard of measurement in the Mishna, and is defined as the area of the court of the Tabernacle, or 100×50 cubits (c. 1648 sq. yds. or 0.1379 hectares). Other measures of capacity were used in the same way, and the system was Babylonian in origin; there are also traces of the same system in the West, under the Roman Empire.
II. Measures of Capacity
The terms ‘ handful ’ ( Leviticus 2:2 ) and the like do not represent any part of a system of measures in Hebrew, any more than in English. The Hebrew ‘measure’ par excellence was the seah , Gr. saton . From the Greek version of Isaiah 5:10 and other sources we know that the ephah contained 3 such measures. Epiphanius describes the seâh or Hebrew modius as a modius of extra size, and as equal to 1 1 / 4 Roman modius = 20 sextarii. Josephus, however, equates it with 1 1 /2 Roman modius = 24 sextarii. An anonymous Greek fragment agrees with this, and so also does Jerome in his commentary on Matthew 13:33 . Epiphanius elsewhere, and other writers, equate it with 22 sextarii (the Bab. [8] ephah is computed at 66 sextarii). The seâh was used for both liquid and dry measure.
The ephah (the word is suspected of Egyp. origin) of 3 seâhs was used for dry measure only; the equivalent liquid measure was the bath (Gr. bados, batos, keramion, choinix ). They are equated in Ezekiel 45:11 , each containing 1 /10 of a homer. The ephah corresponds to the Gr. artabe (although in Isaiah 5:10 six artabai go to a homer) or metrçtes . Josephus equates it to 72 sextarii. The bath was divided into tenths ( Ezekiel 45:14 ), the name of which is unknown; the ephah likewise into tenths, which were called ‘ômer or ‘issaron (distinguish from homer = 10 ephahs). Again the ephah and bath were both divided into sixths ( Ezekiel 45:13 ); the 1 /6 bath was the hin , but the name of the 1 /6 ephah is unknown.
The homer ( Ezekiel 45:11 , Hosea 3:2 ) or cor ( Ezekiel 45:14 , Luke 16:7 ; Gr. koros ) contained 10 ephahs or baths, or 30 seâhs. (The term ‘côr’ is used more especially for liquids.) It corresponded to 10 Attic metrçtai (so Jos. [5] Ant. XV. ix. 2, though he says medimni by a slip). The word côr may be connected with the Bab. [8] gur or guru .
The reading lethek which occurs in Hosea 3:2 , and by Vulgate and EV [4] is rendered by ‘half a homer,’ is doubtful. Epiphanius says the lethek is a large ‘ômer ( gomer ) of 15 modii .
The hin (Gr. hein ) was a liquid measure = 1 /2 seâh. In Leviticus 19:36 the LXX [12] renders it chous . But Josephus and Jerome and the Talmud equate it to 2 Attic choes = 12 sextarii. The hin was divided into halves, thirds (= cab), quarters, sixths, and twelfths (= log). In later times there were a ‘sacred hin’ = ¾ of the ordinary hin, and a large hin = 2 sacred hins = 3 /2 ordinary hin. The Egyp. hen , of much smaller capacity (0. 455 1.) is to be distinguished.
The ‘omer (Gr gomor ) is confined to dry measure. It Isaiah 1:10 Isaiah 1:10 Isaiah 1:10 ephah and is therefore called assaron or ‘issaron (AV [6] ‘ tenth deal ’). Epiphanius equates it accordingly to 71 /5 sextarii, Eusebius less accurately to 7 sextarii. Eusebius also calls it the ‘little gomor’; but there was another ‘little gomor’ of 12 modii, so called in distinction from the ‘large gomor’ of 15 modii (the lethek of Epiphanius). Josephus wrongly equates the gomor to 7 Attic kotylai .
The cab ( 2 Kings 6:25 , Gr. kabos ) was both a liquid and a dry measure. From Josephus and the Talmud it appears that it was equal to 4 sextarii, or 1 /2 hin. In other places it is equated to 6 sextarii, 5 sextarii (‘great cab’ = 1 1 /4 cab), and 1 /4 modius (Epiphanius, who, according to the meaning he attaches to modius here, may mean 4, 5, 5 1 /2, or 6 sextarii l).
The log ( Leviticus 14:10 ; Leviticus 14:12 ) is a measure of oil; the Talmud equates it to 1 /12 hin or 1 /24 seâh, i.e. 1 /4 cab. Josephus renders the 1 /4 cab of 2 Kings 6:25 by the Greek xestes or Roman sextarius , and there is other evidence to the same effect.
A measure of doubtful capacity is the nebet of wine (Gr. version of Hosea 3:2 , instead of lethek of barley). It was 150 sextarii, by which may be meant ordinary sextarii or the larger Syrian sextarii which would make it = 3 baths. The word means ‘wine-skin.’
We thus obtain the following table (showing a mixed decimal and sexagesimal system) of dry and liquid measures. Where the name of the liquid differs from that of the dry measure, the former is added in italics. Where there is no corresponding liquid measure, the dry measure is asterisked.
The older portion of this system seems to have been the sexagesimal, the ‘ômer and 1 /10 bath and the lethek (if it ever occurred) being intrusions.
Homer or cor 1 * Lethek 2 1 Ephah, bath 10 5 1 Seâh 30 15 3 1 1 /6 ephah, hin 60 30 6 2 1 ‘Omer or ‘issaron, 1 /10 bath . 100 50 10 3 1 /3 1 2 /3 1 1 /2 hin 120 60 12 4 2 1 1 /5 1 Cab 180 90 18 6 3 1 4 /5 1 1 /2 1 1 /4 hin 240 120 24 8 4 2 3 /8 2 1 1 /3 1 1 /2 cab, 1 /8 hin 360 180 36 12 6 3 3 /5 3 2 1 1 /2 1 1 /4 cab, log 720 360 72 24 12 7 1 /5 6 4 3 2 1 * 1 /8 cab 1440 720 144 48 24 14 2 /5 12 8 6 4 2 1 When we come to investigate the actual contents of the various measures, we are, in the first instance, thrown back on the (apparently only approximate) equations with the Roman sextarius (Gr. xestes ) and its multiples already mentioned. The tog would then be the equivalent of the sextarius , the bath of the metrçtes , the cab (of 6 logs) of the Ptolemaic chous . If log and sextarius were exact equivalents, the ephah of 72 logs would = 39.39 litres, = nearly 8 2 /3 gallons. This is on the usual assumption that the sextarius was 0.545 1. or 0 96 Imperial pints. But the exact capacity of the sextarius is disputed, and a capacity as high as 0.562 l. or 0.99 imperial pint is given for the sextarius by an actually extant measure. This would give as the capacity of the ephah-bath 40.46 l. or 71.28 pints. But it is highly improbable that the equation of log to sextarius was more than approximate. It is more easy to confound closely resembling measures of capacity than of length, area, or weight.
Name of Measure. (1) Lôg = 0.505 1. (2) Ephah = 65 Pints. (3) Lôg = 0.99 Pint. Rough Approximation on Basis of (3). Litres. Gallons. Litres. Gallons. Litres. Gallons. Homer (cor) 363.7 80.053 369.2 81.25 405 89.28 11 bushels Lethek 181.85 40.026 184.6 40.62 202 44.64 5 1 /2 bushels Ephah-bath 36.37 8.005 36.92 8.125 40.5 8.928 9 gallons Seâh 12.120 2.668 12.3 2.708 13.5 2.976 1 1 /2 pecks Great hin 9.090 2.001 9.18 2.234 10.08 2.232 2 1 /4 gallons Hin 6.060 1.334 6.12 1.356 6.72 1.488 1 1 /2 gallons Sacred hin 4.545 1.000 4.59 1.117 5.04 1.116 9 pints ‘Omer 3.657 0.800 3.67 0.813 4.05 8.893 7 1 /5 pints 1 /2 hin 3.030 0.667 3.06 0.678 3.36 0.744 6 pints Cab 2.020 0.445 2.05 0.451 2.25 0.496 4 pints 1 /2hin 1.515 0.333 1.53 0.339 1.68 0.372 3 pints 1 /2 cab 1.010 0.222 1.02 0.226 1.12 0.248 2 pints Log 0.505 0.111 0.51 0.113 0.56 0.124 1 pint 1 /2 cab 0.252 0.055 0.26 0.056 0.28 0.062 1 /2 pint Other methods of ascertaining the capacity of the ephah are the following. We may assume that it was the same as the Babylonian unit of 0.505 l. (0.89 pint). This would give an ephah of 36.37 l., or nearly 8 gallons or 66.5 sextarii of the usually assumed weight, and more or less squares with Epiphanius’ equation of the seâh or 1 / 3 ephah with 22 sextarii. Or we may connect it with the Egyptian system, thus: both the ephah-hath and the Egyptian-Ptolemaic artabe are equated to the Attic metrçtes of 72 sextarii. Now, in the case of the artabe this is only an approximation, for it is known from native Egyptian sources (which give the capacity in terms of a volume of water of a certain weight) that the artabe was about 36.45 l., or a little more than 64 pints. Other calculations, as from a passage of Josephus, where the cor is equated to 41 Attic (Græco-Roman) modii ( i.e. 656 sextarii), give the same result. In this passage modii is an almost certain emendation of medimni , the confusion between the two being natural in a Greek MS. There are plenty of other vague approximations, ranging from 60 to 72 sextarii. Though the passage of Josephus is not quite certain in its text, we may accept it as having the appearance of precise determination, especially since it gives a result not materially differing from other sources of information.
In the above table, the values of the measures are given according to three estimates, viz. (1) log = Babylonian unit of 0.505 l.; (2) ephah = 65 pints; (3) log = sextarius of 0.99 pint.
Foreign measures of capacity mentioned in NT . Setting aside words which strictly denote a measure of capacity, but are used loosely to mean simply a vessel ( e.g . ‘cup’ in Mark 7:4 ), the following, among others, have been noted. Bushel ( Matthew 5:15 ) is the tr. [14] of modius , which represents seâh . Firkin is used ( John 2:6 ) to represent the Greek metrçtes , the rough equivalent of the bath . Measure in Revelation 6:6 represents the Gr. choinix of about 2 pints.
III. Measures of Weight
The system of weights used in Palestine was derive
Smith's Bible Dictionary - Weights And Measures
A. WEIGHTS. --The general principle of the present inquiry is to give the evidence of the monuments the preference on all doubtful points. All ancient Greek systems of weight were derived, either directly or indirectly, from an eastern source. The older systems of ancient Greece and Persia were the AEginetan, the Attic, the Babylonian and the Euboic.
The AEginetan talent is stated to have contained 60 minae, 6000 drachme.
The Attic talent is the standard weight introduced by Solon.
The Babylonian talent may be determined from existing weights found by. Mr. Layard at Nineveh. Pollux makes it equal to 7000 Attic drachms.
The Euboic talent though bearing a Greek name, is rightly held to have been originally an eastern system. The proportion of the Euboic talent to the Babylonian was probably as 60 to 72, or 5 to
Taking the Babylonian maneh at 7992 grs., we obtain 399,600 for the Euboic talent. The principal if not the only Persian gold coin is the daric, weighing about 129 grs.
The Hebrew talent or talents and divisions. A talent of silver is mentioned in Exodus, which contained 3000 shekels, distinguished as "the holy shekel," or "shekel of the sanctuary." The gold talent contained 100 manehs, 10,000 shekels. The silver talent contained 3000 shekels, 6000 bekas, 60,000 gerahs. The significations of the names of the Hebrew weights must be here stated. The chief unit was the SHEKEL (i.e. weight ), called also the holy shekel or shekel of the sanctuary ; subdivided into the beka (i.e. half ) or half-shekel , and the gerah (i.e. a grain or beka ). The chief multiple, or higher unit, was the kikkar (i.e. circle or globe , probably for an aggregate sum ), translated in our version, after the LXX., TALENT ; (i.e. part, portion or number ), a word used in Babylonian and in the Greek hena or mina . (1) The relations of these weights, as usually: employed for the standard of weighing silver , and their absolute values, determined from the extant silver coins, and confirmed from other sources, were as follows, in grains exactly and in avoirdupois weight approximately: (2) For gold a different shekel was used, probably of foreign introduction. Its value has been calculated at from 129 to 132 grains. The former value assimilates it to the Persian daric of the Babylonian standard. The talent of this system was just double that of the silver standard; if was divided into 100 manehs , and each maneh into 100 shekels, as follows: (3) There appears to have been a third standard for copper, namely, a shekel four times as heavy as the gold shekel (or 528 grains), 1500 of which made up the copper talent of 792,000 grains. It seems to have been subdivided, in the coinage, into halves (of 264 grains), quarters (of 132 grains) and sixths (of 88 grains). B. MEASURES .-- I. MEASURES OF LENGTH. --In the Hebrew, as in every other system, these measures are of two classes: length, in the ordinary sense, for objects whose size we wish to determine, and distance, or itinerary measures, and the two are connected by some definite relation, more or less simple, between their units. The measures of the former class have been universally derived, in the first instance, from the parts of the human body; but it is remarkable that, in the Hebrew system, the only part used for this purpose is the hand and fore-arm, to the exclusion of the foot, which was the chief unit of the western nations. Hence arises the difficulty of determining the ratio of the foot to the CUBIT , (The Hebrew word for the cubit (ammah ) appears to have been of Egyptian origin, as some of the measures of capacity (the hin and ephah ) certainly were.) which appears as the chief Oriental unit from the very building of Noah's ark. ( Genesis 6:15,16 ; 7:20 ) The Hebrew lesser measures were the finger's breadth , ( Jeremiah 52:21 ) only; the palm or handbreadth, (Exodus 25:25 ; 1 Kings 7:26 ; 2 Chronicles 4:5 ) used metaphorically in (Psalm 39:5 ) the span , i.e. the full stretch between the tips of the thumb and the little finger. ( Exodus 28:16 ; 1 Samuel 17:4 ; Ezekiel 43:13 ) and figuratively (Isaiah 40:12 ) The data for determining the actual length of the Mosaic cubit involve peculiar difficulties, and absolute certainty seems unattainable. The following, however, seem the most probable conclusions: First, that three cubits were used in the times of the Hebrew monarchy, namely : (1) The cubit of a man, (3:11) or the common cubit of Canaan (in contradistinction to the Mosaic cubit) of the Chaldean standard; (2) The old Mosaic or legal cubit , a handbreadth larger than the first, and agreeing with the smaller Egyptian cubit; (3) The new cubit , which was still larger, and agreed with the larger Egyptian cubit, of about 20.8 inches, used in the Nilometer. Second, that the ordinary cubit of the Bible did not come up to the full length of the cubit of other countries. The reed ( kaneh ), for measuring buildings (like the Roman decempeda ), was to 6 cubits. It occurs only in Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 40:5-8 ; 41:8 ; 42:16-29 ) The values given In the following table are to be accepted with reservation, for want of greater certainty:
Of measures of distance the smallest is the pace , and the largest the day's journey . (a) The pace , ( 2 Samuel 6:13 ) whether it be a single , like our pace, or double , like the Latin passus , is defined by nature within certain limits, its usual length being about 30 inches for the former and 5 feet for the latter. There is some reason to suppose that even before the Roman measurement of the roads of Palestine, the Jews had a mile of 1000 paces, alluded to in ( Matthew 5:41 ) It is said to have been single or double, according to the length of the pace; and hence the peculiar force of our Lord's saying: "Whosoever shall compel thee [1] to go a mile, go with him twain" --put the most liberal construction on the demand. (b) The day's journey was the most usual method of calculating distances in travelling, (Genesis 30:36 ; 31:23 ; Exodus 3:18 ; 5:3 ; Numbers 10:33 ; 11:31 ; 33:8 ; 1:2; 1 Kings 19:4 ; 2 Kings 3:9 ; Jonah 3:3 ) 1 Maccabees 5:24 ; 7:45 ; Tobit 6:1 , though but one instance of it occurs in the New Testament (Luke 2:44 ) The ordinary day's journey among the Jews was 30 miles; but when they travelled in companies, only ten miles. Neapolis formed the first stage out of Jerusalem according to the former and Beeroth according to the latter computation, (a) The Sabbath day's journey of 2000 cubits, (Acts 1:12 ) is peculiar to the New Testament, and arose from a rabbinical restriction. It was founded on a universal, application of the prohibition given by Moses for a special occasion: "Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." (Exodus 16:29 ) An exception was allowed for the purpose of worshipping at the tabernacle; and, as 2000 cubits was the prescribed space to be kept between the ark and the people as well as the extent of the suburbs of the Levitical cities on every side, (Numbers 35:5 ) this was taken for the length of a Sabbath-day's journey measured front the wall of the city in which the traveller lived. Computed from the value given above for the cubit, the Sabbath-day's journey would be just six tenths of a mile . (d) After the captivity the relations of the Jews to the Persians, Greeks and Romans caused the use, probably, of the parasang , and certainly of the stadium and the mile . Though the first is not mentioned in the Bible, if is well to exhibit the ratios of the three. The universal Greek standard, the stadium of 600 Greek feet, which was the length of the race-course at Olympia, occurs first in the Maccabees, and is common in the New Testament. Our version renders it furlong ; it being, in fact, the eighth part of the Roman mile, as the furlong is of ours. 2 Maccabees 11:5 ; 12:9,17,29 ; (Luke 24:13 ; John 6:19 ; 11:18 ; Revelation 14:20 ; 21:18 ) One measure remains to be mentioned. The fathom , used in sounding by the Alexandrian mariners in a voyage, is the Greek orguia , i.e. the full stretch of the two arms from tip to tip of the middle finger, which is about equal to the height, and in a man of full stature is six feet. For estimating area, and especially land there is no evidence that the Jews used any special system of square measures but they were content to express by the cubit the length and breadth of the surface to be measured ( Numbers 35:4,5 ; Ezekiel 40:27 ) or by the reed. (Ezekiel 41:8 ; 42:16-19 ; Revelation 21:16 ) II. MEASURES OF CAPACITY.--
The measures of capacity for liquids were: (a) The log , ( Leviticus 14:10 ) etc. The name originally signifying basin . (b) The hin , a name of Egyptian origin, frequently noticed in the Bible. ( Exodus 29:40 ; 30:24 ; Numbers 15:4,7,8 ; Ezekiel 4:11 ) etc. (c) The bath , the name meaning "measured," the largest of the liquid measures. ( 1 Kings 7:26,38 ; 2 Chronicles 2:10 ; Ezra 7:22 ; Isaiah 5:10 )
The dry measure contained the following denominations: (a) The cab , mentioned only in ( 2 Kings 6:25 ) the name meaning literally hollow or concave . (b) The omer , mentioned only in ( Exodus 16:16-36 ) The word implies a heap, and secondarily a sheaf. (c) The seah , or "measure," this being the etymological meaning of the term and appropriately applied to it, inasmuch as it was the ordinary measure for household purposes. ( Genesis 18:6 ; 1 Samuel 25:18 ; 2 Kings 7:1,16 ) The Greek equivalent occurs in (Matthew 13:33 ; Luke 13:21 ) (d) The ephah , a word of Egyptian origin and frequent recurrence in the Bible. ( Exodus 16:36 ; Leviticus 5:11 ; 6:20 ; Numbers 5:15 ; 28:5 ; Judges 6:19 ; Ruth 2:17 ; 1 Samuel 1:24 ; 17:17 ; Ezekiel 45:11,13 ; 46:5,7,11,14 ) (e) The lethec , or "half homer" literally meaning what is poured out; it occurs only in ( Hosea 3:2 ) (f) The homer , meaning heap. ( Leviticus 27:16 ; Numbers 11:32 ; Isaiah 5:10 ; Ezekiel 45:13 ) It is elsewhere termed cor , from the circular vessel in which it was measured. ( 1 Kings 4:22 ; 5:11 ; 2 Chronicles 2:10 ; 27:5 ; Ezra 7:22 ; Ezekiel 45:14 ) The Greek equivalent occurs in (Luke 16:7 ) The absolute values of the liquid and the dry measures are stated differently by Josephus and the rabbinists, and as we are unable to decide between them, we give a double estimate to the various denominations. In the new Testament we have notices of the following foreign measures: (a) The metretes , ( John 2:6 ) Authorized Version "firkin," for liquids. (b) The choenix , ( Revelation 6:6 ) Authorized Version "measure," for dry goods. (c) The xestec , applied, however, not to the peculiar measure so named by the Greeks, but to any small vessel, such as a cup. ( Mark 7:4,8 ) Authorized Version "pot." (d) The modius , similarly applied to describe any vessel of moderate dimensions, ( Matthew 5:15 ; Mark 4:21 ; Luke 11:33 ) Authorized Version "bushel," though properly meaning a Roman measure, amounting to about a peck. The value of the Attic metretes was 8.6696 gallons, and consequently the amount of liquid in six stone jars, containing on the average 2 1/2 metretae each, would exceed 110 gallons. ( John 2:6 ) Very possibly, however, the Greek term represents the Hebrew bath ; and if the bath be taken at the lowest estimate assigned to it, the amount would be reduced to about 60 gallons. The choenix was 1-48th of an Attic medimnus , and contained nearly a quart. It represented the amount of corn for a day's food; and hence a choenix for a penny (or denarius ), which usually purchased a bushel (Cic. Verr. iii 81), indicated a great scarcity. ( Revelation 6:6 )
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Weights And Measures
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.—The specific object for which the Gospels were composed did not call for anything like a full detailed use of metrical data. Within their limited compass there are only incidental allusions to a system, or rather systems, of weights and measures. These are naturally scanty and obscure. The most that can be done with them is to identify them as nearly as possible with equivalents in modern systems, and to ascertain their places in those that were current in the Palestine of NT times. At this last point a difficulty at once emerges, due partly to the absence of regard for accuracy and precision in such matters prevalent at the time and place, and partly to the mixture of standards derived from successive and widely differing populations coming in with successive waves of conquest and invasion. The situation was not unlike that of modern Syria, with its bewildering confusion of coinage and other standards of value, brought in and grafted on the native system by French, German, and English merchants.
It is generally agreed by expert metrologists that the basis and fountainhead of all systems of measurement is to be traced to Babylonia. But in passing into Western countries, the Babylonian system was naturally subjected to as many modifications as it entered regions, and gave rise to quite as many secondary or derivative systems. These, during the course of the interrelations of the peoples using them, mutually affected one another; and the result was a variety of values called by the same name, or by names derived from the same original. On account of this fact, etymological processes of reasoning are in this field of little value, if not altogether valueless and misleading. Moreover, throughout the whole history of metrology there is a tendency noticeable towards the shrinkage or reduction of primitive values, making it essential to distinguish with great care between the values current under the same name in different periods of history. In the attempt to reach the exact facts as far as the 1st cent. a.d. is concerned, it will be best to bear in mind that in Palestine during the OT period three main systems of metrology came into use more or less extensively, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, and the Phœnician, and that to these, just before the times of Jesus, the Roman conquest added a fourth as a disturbing element.
I. Weights.—The primitive unit of weight was the shekel. This developed into two forms, the heavy and the light (cf. Kennedy in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , art. ‘Weights and Measures’). The heavy shekel weighed 252.5 grs., and the light just one-half of that. Perhaps while the shekel was still being used in these forms, a third value was attached to it by the introduction of the Syrian shekel of 320 grs., and a fourth value later, viz. the Phœnician of 224.4 grs. In Roman times the denarius was introduced. This was equivalent to the Attic drachm. But Josephus (Ant. iii. viii. 2) represents the Hebrew shekel (σίκλος) as equal to a tetradrachm (4 drs.), and a drachm-denarius was fixed by Nero at 52.62 grs. At least approximately, therefore, for the 1st cent. a.d., three units in the scale of weights may be determined, as follows: the drachm-denarius = 52.5 grs., the light shekel = 105 grs., and the heavy shekel=210 grs. Of the higher units the mina is equated with 100 drs., and the talent with 60 minae, hence the scale:
 
Dr. Den.
Shek.
Tetr.
Min.
Talent.
 
 
Drachm-Denar.
1
 
 
 
 
52.5
+
grs.
Shek. (light).
2
1
 
 
 
105
+
grs.
Shek. (heavy) Tetradrachm
4
2
1
 
 
210
+
grs.
Mina.
100
50
25
1
 
5250
+
grs.
Talent.
6000
3000
1500
60
1
315000
+
grs.
In the Gospels the words δίδραχμον (light shekel, Matthew 17:24) and τάλαντον* [1] (talent, Matthew 18:24; Matthew 25:15-28) occur, but not as the names of weights; they are the designations of coins (see Money). The only term purely designating a weight is λίτρα (pound, John 12:3; John 19:39).* [2] This was identified with the mina of the above scale as its approximate equivalent. Its exact weight in the Roman scale of weights is given as 5050 grs., or 11 oz. avoirdupois.
II. Measures
1. Measures of Length.—The unit of linear measurement in earlier Biblical times was the cubit (אַמָּה). This was obtained by the adoption of the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger as the standard. There are evidences that such a standard was early averaged, conventionalized, and made the legal unit among the Israelites, being introduced like other standards of the kind from Baby. Ionia. The cubit did not, however, remain a fixed unit throughout. From Ezekiel 40:5 (cf. Ezekiel 43:13) we learn that two standards of measurement called cubits had come into use, and were employed in the prophet’s day, and that these differed by one hand’s breadth. The common cubit was six hand-breadths in length, the sacred cubit, seven. The question of the absolute length of either is, therefore, resolved into the value of the handbreadth. It would be useless to discuss in detail the various processes through which the solution of the problem has been attempted. The results of these processes show a divergence of over nine inches. Conder (Handbook of the Bible) finds the cubit to be 16 in. in length. Petrie (Ency. Brit.9 [3] xxiv. 484) finds it to be 25.2. Between these extremes are the following: A. R. S. Kennedy (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , art. ‘Weights and Measures’), 17.5 in.; Watson (PEFSt [4] , 1897, 203 ff.), 17.7; Beswick (ib. 1879, 182 ff.), 17.72; Warren (ib. 1899, 229 ff.), 17.75 in.; Smith’s DB [5] , based on Thenius, 19.5 in.; and Petrie (PEFSt [4] , 1892, 31), 22.6. If we set aside the extremes by Conder and Petrie and Smith’s DB [5] , the divergence in the remainder is reduced to a margin not larger than .25 inch. Accordingly, the consensus of the most recent investigation may be safely taken to fix the value of the cubit in inches at between 17.50 and 17.75. Therefore the symbol, 17.5 + may be accepted as the approximate value of the common cubit among the Israelites. Upon this basis the longer cubit of Ezekiel 40:5 was Ezekiel 20:6 in. This result coincides with the Egyptian metrological system, and it appears probable that, being introduced from Egypt as the equivalent of the royal Egyptian measure of the name, the cubit was gradually reduced until in Ezekiel’s day the shorter form of it had been definitely fixed. This, then, persisted up to NT times, and was identified with the Roman cubitus of a little less than 17.5 in. (cf. Smith, Dict. of Antiq. p. 1227).† [8]
The subdivisions of the cubit were the span, equalling half a cubit; the palm or hand-breadth, one-sixth of a cubit; and the digit or finger-breadth, one twenty-fourth of a cubit. The multiples in common use were the fathom, consisting of four cubits, and the reed, of six cubits. Hence the table:
 
Digit.
Palm.
Span.
Cubit.
Fathom.
Reed.
 
Digit (Finger-breadth)
1
 
 
 
 
 
-73
in
Palm (Hand-breadth)
4
1
 
 
 
 
3.
in
Span.
12
3
1
 
 
 
8.75
in
Cubit.
24
6
2
1
 
 
17.52
in
Fathom.
96
24
8
4
1
 
70.+
in
Reed.
144
36
12
6
1.5
1
105.5
in
In the Gospels the cubit is mentioned in Matthew 6:27, Luke 12:25, and John 21:8. In all these passages it appears as an approximation, and neither requires nor admits or precise determination. Lengths less than that of the cubit are not alluded to. Of greater lengths the following occur, being outside the usual scale as given above. The stadium, or furlong (Luke 24:13, John 6:19; John 11:18). The term is borrowed from the Greek scale, and appears there as the equivalent of 600 ft. (more precisely 600 ft. 9 in.), or 400 cubits. The mile (Matthew 5:41) was also borrowed, but is taken from the Roman scale, and was equal to 7.5 Greek stadia (furlongs), or 3000 cubits (1700 yds.). The day’s journey (Luke 2:44), which is a common Oriental way of reckoning distances of considerable length at the present day, seems to have been used in ancient times also. It is not, however, reducible to any definite equivalent, and was no doubt a very elastic term. See on this and on ‘Sabbath day’s journey,’ art. Journey.
2. Measures of Surface.—Of measures of area no mention is made in the Gospels or in the NT anywhere. Occasional allusions to the purchase of land (Matthew 13:44; Matthew 27:7, Luke 14:18; cf. Acts 1:18) are not of such a character as to include the measurement used in these and similar transactions.
3. Measures of Capacity.—These naturally fall into liquid and dry measures. Primitively the most common word for measure of volume in Bible lands was perhaps the seah (σάτον, μέτρον, cf. Matthew 13:33, which is also the usage of the LXX Septuagint ). This was the ‘measure’ par excellence. This, however, became differentiated at least as early as before the NT age into a unit of dry measure, and the hin, with twice the capacity of the seah, took its place in the corresponding liquid scale. Nevertheless, in ascertaining the values of both liquid and dry standards of measurement, the most convenient starting-point is the seah. This, on the one hand, is easily traceable in its equivalents in the Graeco-Roman metrology, and, on the other, as the unit on which the ephah-bath is based, furnishes a key to the Palestinian metrology of both dry and liquid varieties.
As to the equivalency of the seah in the classical Graeco-Roman system, the following data give testimony: Josephus (Ant. ix. iv. 5) says, ‘A seah is equal to one and one-half Italian modii.’ An anonymous writer, cited by Hultsch (Metr. Script. i. 81. 6), speaks to the same effect; so also Jerome (on Matthew 13:33), who, however, probably simply reproduces this representation. On the other hand, according to Epiphanius (Metr. Script, i. 82. 8), the seah was equal to one and one-quarter modii (20 sextarii); but that this is not a precise statement appears from the same writer’s equating the seah with 22 sextarii elsewhere (Metr. Script, i. 82. 9). Indirectly from the identification of the bath, the cor, and the hin by Josephus, with their corresponding Roman equivalents (cf. Ant. viii. ii. 9, xv. ix. 2, iii. viii. 3), the value of the seah is computed at 22 sextarii; and as this agrees with the equation of the Babylonian ephah-bath with 66 sextarii (Hultsch, Griech. and Rom. [9] Metr. ii. p. 412), it may be taken as correct.
This gives us the value of the seah in Roman sextarii. The reduction of the sextarii to present-day English standards may be made either upon the basis of the calculations of Hultsch (Metrol p. 453), which yield a sextarius of .96 pt. (cf. Smith, Diet. of Ant., followed by Harper’s Dict. of Class. Lit. and Ant., ed. H. T. Peck), and a seah of 21 + pts. (2 gals. 2 qts. and 1 + pts.); or this reduction may be made upon the basis of the use of the Farnese congius (= 6 sextarii) in the Dresden Museum, which yields a sextarius of .99 pts. The difference in results between these methods amounts to no more than .03 pt. in the Roman sextarius. Neither of the two methods positively excludes, the possibility of error, but the latter appears upon the whole more trustworthy. Thus in the reconstruction of a table we have the equation to start with: sextarius = .99 pt. The seah (22 sext. = 2 Galatians 2 qts. 1.78 pts.) is, then, approximately 23 + pts.
This yields for the dry measure the scale as follows:
 
Log.
Kab.
Omer.
Seah.
Ephah.
Cor.
 
Log.
1
 
 

Holman Bible Dictionary - Weights And Measures
Systems of measurement in the Bible. In the Ancient Near East, weights and measure varied. The prophets spoke against merchants who used deceitful weights (Micah 6:11 ).
Weights Considering first the Old Testament evidence, Hebrew weights were never an exact system. An abundance of archaeological evidence demonstrates that not even inscribed weights of the same inscription weighed the same. Weights were used in a balance to weigh out silver and gold, since there was no coinage until the Persian period after 500 B.C. This medium of exchange replaced bartering early in the biblical period.
The shekel is the basic unit of weight in the Hebrew as well as the Babylonian and Canaanite systems, though the exact weight varied from region to region and sometimes also according to the kind of goods for sale. The Mesopotamian system was sexagesimal, based on sixes and sixties. So, for example, the Babylonian system used a talent of sixty minas, a mina of sixty shekels, and a shekel of twenty-four gerahs .
The Hebrew system was decimal like the Egyptian, though the weights were not the same. Variations in the weights of the shekel may be attributed to several factors other than the dishonesty condemned in the law (Deuteronomy 25:13-16 ) and the prophets (Amos 8:5 ; Micah 6:11 ). There could have been variation between official and unofficial weights, including the setting of new standards by reform administrations such as that of good King Josiah. There might have been a depreciation of standards with passage of time, or a use of different standards to weight different goods (a heavy standard was used at Ugarit to weigh purple linen), or the influence of foreign systems. There seems to have been three kinds of shekel current in Israel: (1) a temple shekel of about ten grams (.351 ounces) which depreciated to about 9.8 grams (.345 ounces); (2) the common shekel of about 11.7 grams (.408 ounces) which depreciated to about 11.4 grams (.401 ounces); and (3) the heavy (“royal”?) shekel of about thirteen grams (.457 ounces).
The smallest portion of the shekel was the gerah, which was 1/20 of a shekel (Exodus 30:13 ; Ezekiel 45:12 ). The gerah has been estimated to weigh .571 grams. There were larger portions of the shekel, the most familiar of which was the beka or half shekel ( Exodus 38:26 ), known also from Egypt. Inscribed examples recovered by archaeologists average over six grams and may have been half of the heavy shekel mentioned above. The pim , if it Isaiah 2/3 of a shekel as most scholars suppose, is also related to the heavy shekel and weighs about eight grams. It may have been a Philistine weight, since it is mentioned as the price the Philistines charged Israelite farmers to sharpen their agricultural tools when the Philistines enjoyed an iron monopoly over Israel ( 1 Samuel 13:19-21 ).
Multiples of the shekel were the mina and the talent . According to the account of the sanctuary tax (Exodus 38:25-26 ), three thousand shekels were in a talent, probably sixty minas of fifty shekels each. This talent may have been the same as the Assyrian weight, since both 2 Kings 18:14 and Sennacherib's inscriptions mention the tribute of King Hezekiah as thirty talents of silver and of gold. This was 28.38 to 30.27 kilograms (about seventy pounds). The mina was probably fifty shekels (as the Canaanite system), though Ezekiel 45:12 calls for a mina of sixty shekels, and the early Greek translation reads, “fifty.” The mina has been estimated at 550 to 600 grams (1.213 to 1.323 lbs.). One table of Old Testament weights, estimated on a shekel of 11.424 grams is as follows:
1 talent (3000 shekels)
34.272Kilograms
75.6 lbs.
1 mina (50 shekels)
571.2 grams
1.26 lbs.
1 shekel
11.424 grams
.403 oz.
1 pim (2/3 shekel?)
7.616 grams
.258 oz.
1 beka (1/2 shekel)
5.712 grams
.201 oz.
1 gerah (1/20 shekel)
.571 grams
.02 oz.
We should remember however, that this is misleading, for Old Testament weights were never so precise as this. The Lord's ideal was just weights and measures ( Leviticus 19:36 ; Proverbs 16:11 ; Ezekiel 45:10 ); but dishonest manipulations were all too common (Proverbs 11:1 ; Proverbs 20:23 ; Hosea 12:7 ), and archaeologists have discovered weights that have been altered by chiseling the bottom. Interesting things weighed in the Old Testament were Goliath's armor (1 Samuel 17:5-7 ) and Absolom's annual haircut (2 Samuel 14:26 ). In the New Testament, the talent and mina were large sums of money (Matthew 25:15-28 ; compare Luke 19:13-25 ), and the pound of precious ointment (John 12:3 ) is probably the Roman standard of twelve ounces.
Measures Measures of capacity, like the weights, were used from earliest times in the market place. These were also only approximate and varied from time to time and place to place. Sometimes different names were used to designate the same unit. Some names were used to describe both liquid and dry measures as the modern liter. The basic unit of dry measure was the ephah which means basket. The homer , “ass's load,” was a dry measure, the same size as the cor , both a dry and a liquid measure. Each contained ten ephahs or baths, an equivalent liquid measure (Ezekiel 45:10-14 ). The ephah is estimated at 1.52 to 2.42 pecks, about 3/8 to 2/3 of a bushel.
The bath is estimated from two fragments of vessels so labeled from tell Beit Mirsim and Lachish to have contained 21 to 23 liters or about gallons, which would correspond roughly to an ephah of 3/8 to 2/3 of a bushel. Lethech , which may mean half a homer (or cor) would be five ephahs. Seah was a dry measure which may be a third of a ephah. Hin , an Egyptian liquid measure, which means “jar” was approximately a sixth of a bath. The omer , used only in the manna story (Exodus 16:13-36 ) was a daily ration and is calculated as a tenth of an ephah (also called issaron, “tenth”). A little less than half an omer is the kab (only 2 Kings 6:25 NRSV), which was four times the smallest unit, log (only Leviticus 14:10-20 NRSV) which is variously estimated, according to its Greek or Latin translation as a half pint or 23 pint.
Although Old Testament measures of capacity varied as much as the difference between the American and English gallon, the following table at least represents the assumptions of the above discussion:
Dry Measures
kab
1.16 quarts
omer, issaron 1/10 ephah
2.09 quarts
seah, 1/3 ehpah
2/3 peck
ephah
1/2 bushel
lethech, homer
2.58 bushels
homer, cor
5.16 bushels
Liquid Measures
log
0.67 pint
hin
1 gallon
bath
1/2 gallons
cor, homer
55 gallons
In the New Testament, measures of capacity are Greek or Roman measures. The sextarius or “pot” (Mark 7:4 ) was about a pint. The measure of John 2:6 ( metretas ) is perhaps ten gallons. The bushel (modios ) of Matthew 5:15 and parallels is a vessel large enough to cover a light, perhaps about a fourth of an American bushel. As remarked before, the amount of ointment Mary used to anoint Jesus ( John 12:3 ) was a Roman pound of twelve ounces (a measure of both weight and capacity), and Nicodemus brought a hundred such pounds of mixed spices to anoint Jesus' body (John 19:39 ).
In measures of length, all over the Ancient Near East, the standard was the cubit , the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Israel knew two different lengths for the cubit just as did Egypt. The common cubit, mentioned in connection with the description of the bed of Og, king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:11 ), was about seventeen and a half inches. This may be deduced from the 1,200 cubit length mentioned in the Siloam, inscription for King Hezekiah's tunnel which has been measured to yield a cubit of this length. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:5 ) mentions a long cubit consisting of a common cubit plus a handbreadth which would yield a “royal” cubit of about twenty and a half inches, similar to the Egyptian short and long cubits.
Even figuring with the common cubit, Goliath's height was truly gigantic at six cubits and a span (1 Samuel 17:4 ), about nine and a half feet tall . If Solomon's Temple is figured with the common cubit, it was about ninety-feet long, thirty-feet wide, and forty-five-feet high (1 Kings 6:2 ). The span is half a cubit (Ezekiel 43:13 ,Ezekiel 43:13,43:17 ), or the distance between the extended thumb and little finger. If it is half the long cubit, the span would be about ten and one-fifth inches; if half, the common cubit was about eight and three-fourths inches.
The handbreadth or palm is a sixth of a cubit, consisting of the breadth of the hand at the base of the four fingers. This measure is a little less than three inches. The smallest Israelite measure of length was the finger, a fourth of a handbreadth ( Jeremiah 52:21 ) and was about three-fourths inch. Larger than a cubit was the reed, probably consisting of six common cubits. Archaeologists have noticed several monumental buildings whose size can be calculated in round numbers of such cubits or reeds. Summarizing on the basis of the common cubit, linear measurements of the Old Testament were:
Common Cubit
1 reed
6 cubits
8 ft. 9 in.
1 cubit
6 handbreadths
17.5 in.
1 handbreadth
4 fingers
2.9 in.
1 finger
.73 in.
Ezekiel's Cubit
1 reed
6 cubits
10 ft. 24 in.
1 cubit
7 handbreadths
20.4 in.
There were indefinite measures of great length, such as a day's journey or three day's journey or seven day's journey, the calculation of which would depend on the mode of transportation and the kind of terrain. Shorter indefinite distances were the bowshot (Genesis 21:16 ) and the furrow's length (1 Samuel 14:14 NRSV).
In the New Testament measures of length were Greek or Roman units. The cubit was probably the same as the common cubit, since the Romans reckoned it as one and a half times the Roman foot. The fathom ( Acts 27:28 ) was about six feet of water in depth. The stadion or furlong was a Roman measure of 400 cubits or one eighth Roman mile. The Roman mile ( Matthew 5:41 ) was 1,620 yards. Josephus calculated this as six stadia or 1,237.8 yards.
Measures of area were indefinite in the Old Testament. An “acre” was roughly what a yoke of oxen could plow in one day. Land could be measured by the amount of grain required to sow it. In New Testament times a Roman measure of land was the Latin jugerum , related to what a yoke of oxen could plow, figured at 28,000 square feet or five-eighths of an acre. Another was the furrow, 120 Roman feet in length.
In conclusion weights and measures in biblical times are seldom precise enough to enable one to calculate exact metric equivalents, but the Lord set forth an ideal for just balances, weights, and measures. Different standards in surrounding Near Eastern countries affected biblical standards. Sometimes there were two standards operating at the same time, such as short and long, light and heavy, common and royal. There is enough evidence to figure approximate metrological values for the biblical weights and measures.
M. Pierce Matheney
Morrish Bible Dictionary - Weights And Measures
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 ; Ezekiel 40:3-81 ) 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 ' 1618254819_71 .
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.

Sentence search

Firkin - See Weights And Measures
Palm - See Weights And Measures
Pim - See Weights And Measures
Pint - See Weights And Measures
Talent - See Weights And Measures
Bushel - See Weights And Measures
Modios - See Weights And Measures
Length, Measure of - See Weights And Measures
Linear Measures - See Weights And Measures
Homer - See Weights And Measures
Span - See Weights And Measures
Hin - See Weights And Measures
Cor - See Weights And Measures
Omer - See Weights And Measures
Bekah - See Weights And Measures
Farthing - See Weights And Measures
Fathom - See Weights And Measures
Cab - See Weights And Measures
Shekel - See Weights And Measures
Pieces of Gold or of Silver - See Weights And Measures
Pound - See Weights And Measures
Bath - See Weights And Measures
Stater - See Weights And Measures
Handbreadth - See Weights And Measures...
Talent - See Weights And Measures
Tenth-Deal - See Weights And Measures
Gerah - See Weights And Measures
Log - See Weights And Measures
Maneh - See Weights And Measures
Mile - See Weights And Measures
Dram - See Weights And Measures
Denarius - See Weights And Measures
Reed - See Weights And Measures
Span - See Weights And Measures
Hin - See Weights And Measures
Homer - See Weights And Measures
Measures - See Weights And Measures
Omer - See Weights And Measures
Pound - See Coins ; Weights And Measures
Bushel - See Weights And Measures
Cab - See Weights And Measures
Cor - See Weights And Measures
Cubit - See Weights And Measures
Fathom - See Weights And Measures
Firkin - See Weights And Measures
Furlong - See Weights And Measures
Log - See Weights And Measures
Mile - See Weights And Measures
Mile - —See Weights And Measures
Acre - See Weights And Measures
Handbreadth - See Weights And Measures
Furlong - —See Weights And Measures
Pace - See Weights And Measures
Seah - See Weights And Measures, II
Talent - See Money, Weights And Measures
Maneh - See Weights And Measures, III
Lethech, Lethek - See Weights And Measures
Cubit - —See Age, and Weights And Measures
Sabbath Day's Journey - See Weights And Measures, I
Bath - A liquid measure; see Weights And Measures
Scales - See Balances ; Weights And Measures
Beka - See Weights And Measures
Pound - See Money, § 7 ; Weights And Measures, § III
Weights - See "Table of Weights And Measures" at the end of the volume
Cor - See Weights And Measures
Fathom - See Weights And Measures
Maneh - See Weights And Measures
Assizer - ) An officer who has the care or inspection of Weights And Measures, etc
Metrology - ) The science of, or a system of, Weights And Measures; also, a treatise on the subject
Gerah, - See Money, 3 ; Weights And Measures, iii
Beka - See Weights And Measures
Shekel - See Coins ; Weights And Measures
Hin - See Weights And Measures
Inch - See Weights And Measures
Cubit - See Weights And Measures
Gallon - See Weights And Measures
Gerah - See Shekel ; Weights And Measures
Choinix - See Weights And Measures
Kab - See Weights And Measures
Taxer - ) One of two officers chosen yearly to regulate the assize of bread, and to see the true gauge of Weights And Measures is observed
Questman - of abuses of Weights And Measures
Firkin - See Weights And Measures
Span - See Cubit ; Weights And Measures
Measuring Reed - See Weights And Measures
Sealer - ) One who seals; especially, an officer whose duty it is to seal writs or instruments, to stamp Weights And Measures, or the like
Issaron - See Weights And Measures ; Ephah
Deal - See Weights And Measures, II
Homer - See Weights And Measures
Penny, - See Weights And Measures
Bath - See Weights And Measures
Ephah - See Weights And Measures
Ephah - (See Weights And Measures
Kor - See Weights And Measures
Metre - 37 English inches, the standard of linear measure in the metric system of Weights And Measures
Talent - Even with the recovery of a supposed actual specimen (see article ‘Weights and Measures’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iv
Assay - In law, an examination of Weights And Measures by the standard
Fathom - ) see Encyclopaedia Biblica , article ‘Weights and Measures
Money - See Weights And Measures
Day's Journey - ; seven days, Genesis 31:23 ) was not, like the ‘sabbath day’s journey’ (see Weights And Measures), a definite measure of length, but, like our ‘stone’s throw,’ ‘bow-shot,’ etc
Weights - Ezekiel 45:12 , speaking of the ordinary Weights And Measures used in traffic among the Jews, says that the shekel weighed twenty gerahs: it was therefore equal to the weight of the sanctuary
Try - To prove by a test as, to try Weights And Measures by a standard to try one's opinions by the divine oracles
Acre - " What the Jewish acre exactly contained we have no means of ascertaining: it is not included in the usual lists of Weights And Measures as a definite measure of land
Shekel - Bockh, whose authority in matters pertaining to ancient Weights And Measures is very high, fixes it proximately at 274Paris grains
Assize - Specifically: (1) A statute regulating the weight, measure, and proportions of ingredients and the price of articles sold in the market; as, the assize of bread and other provisions; (2) A statute fixing the standard of Weights And Measures
Abomination - ), falsification of Weights And Measures ( Proverbs 11:1 ), and ‘evil devices’ generally ( Proverbs 15:26 RV Firkin - ‘Weights and Measures’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, iv
Darius - A system of Weights And Measures were standardized throughout the kingdom to help stimulate the economy and make transactions easier
Bushel - ‘Weights and Measures’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iv
Seal - ) To mark with a stamp, as an evidence of standard exactness, legal size, or merchantable quality; as, to seal Weights And Measures; to seal silverware
Seal - ) To mark with a stamp, as an evidence of standard exactness, legal size, or merchantable quality; as, to seal Weights And Measures; to seal silverware
Measures - The following is condensed from Schaff's Dictionary: The Jewish law contains two precepts respecting Weights And Measures. The standards of the Weights And Measures preserved in the temple were destroyed with the sacred edifice, and afterward the measures and weights of the people among whom the Jews dwelt were adopted; which, of course, adds to the perplexities of the subject
Weights And Measures - The Lord's ideal was just Weights And Measures ( Leviticus 19:36 ; Proverbs 16:11 ; Ezekiel 45:10 ); but dishonest manipulations were all too common (Proverbs 11:1 ; Proverbs 20:23 ; Hosea 12:7 ), and archaeologists have discovered weights that have been altered by chiseling the bottom. ...
In conclusion Weights And Measures in biblical times are seldom precise enough to enable one to calculate exact metric equivalents, but the Lord set forth an ideal for just balances, weights, and measures. There is enough evidence to figure approximate metrological values for the biblical Weights And Measures
Weights - It is not possible today to give exact equivalents of the Weights And Measures referred to in the Bible. It seems that no official system operated throughout Palestine, and Weights And Measures may have varied from place to place and from era to era
Weights And Measures - WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. Within their limited compass there are only incidental allusions to a system, or rather systems, of Weights And Measures. ‘Weights and Measures’). ‘Weights and Measures’), 17
Money - See table of Jewish Weights And Measures
Commerce - Products, places of business, business practices (weights and measures, business law), and the means of transport all figure into the commercial picture of the biblical era. ...
Weights And Measures Inscribed stone, clay, or metal weights were used throughout the Near East and have been found in large quantities by archaeologists. See Agriculture ; Banking ; Economic Life ; Marketplace; Transportation and Travel ; Weights And Measures
Measure - Weights And Measures should be uniform
Pound - Money and Weights And Measures
Judges - ...
The custody, in the sanctuary, of the standard Weights And Measures made an appeal to the priesthood in disputes a necessity; and in final appeals the high priest, as chief legal authority, decided difficult cases before the time of the kings (Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 17:12)
Tools - See Weights And Measures
Economic Life - ...
Weights And Measures also fitted into the sale of commodities in the town marketplace. Hieratic symbols on these markers demonstrate a reliance on the Egyptian system of Weights And Measures
Weights And Measures - Weights And Measures . Since the most important of all ancient Oriental systems of Weights And Measures, the Babylonian , seems to have been based on a unit of length (the measures of capacity and weight being scientifically derived there from), it is reasonable to deal with the measures of length before proceeding to measures of capacity and weight
Money - Now, all the weight-systems of Western Asia, and even of Europe, had their origin in Babylonia (for details see Weights And Measures). The best attested is that which the present writer, in his article ‘Weights and Measures’ in Hastings’ DB Crimes And Punishments - ]'>[1] 19:14), and the use of false Weights And Measures (D Arts - the sickle, Revelation 14:14) and for threshing, the muzzle (1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Timothy 5:18, only in quotation), the bridle (James 3:3), and harness in general, millstones (Revelation 18:21-22), Weights And Measures (Revelation 6:8)-all these more or less called for the skill of the artisan proper
Temple - ‘Weights and Measures’ in Hastings’ DB Temple (2) - ‘Weights and Measures
Rome - The testing of Weights And Measures was carried on in this temple