There are a multitude of references to values of exchange in the Bible - shekels, bekas, talents, etc. starting in the time of Moses (early 13th century BCE), when "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying ... Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, (males) from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord ... half a shekel after the shekel of the sactuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs)." There were no coins at this time, so standard weights were used. Earlier (c.2000 BCE), when Abraham's servant first saw Rebekah, the future wife of Isaac, he "took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold" (Genesis 24:22). And King David's (c. 1000 BCE) "spearhead weighed six hundred shekels of iron" (I Samuel 17:7).

#1 Hoard of silver ingots, late 8-7th centuries BCE

By 800 BCE, there was a rather sophisticated system of weights established, based on the shekel. Standard weights were polished domed stones, engraved with the weight - from fractions to multiples of a shekel. (#2)

#2 A selection of Judaean Stone Weights, L to R: 8 Gerah (3.96gm), Beqa (6.7gm), Pym (8.8gm), Shekel (10.7gm), and 8 Shekels (90gm).

© 2020-Mel Wacks