Measures, weights, coins, time

Chapters: Weights | Coins | Cavernous sizes | Linear sizes | Time data | Monthes | Major annual celebrations and feasts


From the beginning only gold and silver were weighted, others were measured. There were no coins only nuggets, sticks or pieces of metal in various shapes.
The basis of weight was one shekel called as shekel of the sanctuary because it was kept in tabernacle as a standard (Exod.30.13; Exod.38.24-26).
In gold a shekel weighted 16 grams, later about 11 grams. By time it was counted only 50 shekel to a pound.
In silver the weight was little less, shekel little over 14 grams, a pound had 700 grams and a talent 42 kg.
At Amos.8.5 was shekel used in mean of weight (shekel great=to increase the weight of standard weight).

In Bible there are mentioned following weights:

UnitValueConversion, links
Gerah (nugget, heller, farthing)0,8 gram Lev.27.25, Num.3.47, Num.18.16 and Ezek.45.12
Shekel16 grams (14 or 11 grams)= 20 gerahs, Exod.30.13
Pound (mine) 960 grams
(700 grams)
= 60 (50) shekels, 1 Kgs.10.17
Talent (centner)58 kg (42 kg)= 60 pounds
Else the talent is equal to a pound, not to a centner:
Pound (mane) 0,5 kg= 60 shekels (else 50 shekels)
Talent (kikkar)30 kg= 60 pounds = 3600 shekels (else 3000 shekels)
There was also so called:
Light shekel8 grams
Light pound0,5 kg
Heavy pound1 kg



From the beginning the payment unit was a shekel (16 grams) of silver.
The real money started to be used as far as in 6th century B.C. (so they were used after Israelites's return from captivity in Babylon).
From the beginning a weighted metal was used as mentioned in previous section and the weights were payment units in fact.
A unit was a shekel, a mine, a pound, a talent, a centner. The value it is hard to determine - we only can estimate it according the value of gold and silver.
Also smaller pieces were used and also bronze was set as exchangable metal.
In the time of rule of Darius Hystapse the Persian (581-485 B.C.) were stamped first coins drams (dareicoins) with picture of the king kneeling with a bow in one and an arrow in other hand. They are mentioned in Ezra.8.27 and 1 Chr.29.7.
These coins weighing about 8 grams were common means of payment on East until the era of Alexander the Big. Beside that a dram is also mentioned in Ezra.2.69 and Neh.7.71-73, where is probably meant different coin (darkemonim).
After division of Alexander's empire Jews were under dominion of Ptolemeys a Seleqs and used Egyptian and Phoenician coins tetradrams, didrams and drams which were equal to shekel, halfshekel and quartershekel.
Simon Macabeus got the right to stamp his own coins - he stamped silver shekels, halfshekels and a bronze sixts of shekel. Later also Herodians stamped their coins, finally with picture of the emperor.

In the New Testament are mentioned following coins:

UnitValueConversion, links

Silver coins

Shekel (silver, tetradram, fourdram, stater)16 grams
of silver
= 4 pences, Matt.26.15
Halfshekel (didram, twodram)8 grams
of silver
= 2 pences
Pence (dram, "daily coin")4 grams
of silver
= 16 farthings, daily worker's salary
Matt.18.28, Mark.6.37, Luke.15.8, Matt.17.27

Bronze coins

Farthing (assarion) = 4 condrantes, Matt.5.26, Matt.10.29, Luke.12.6
Condrantes (quadrans, forth part of farthing) = 2 mites (leptons), Mark.12.42, Luke.21.2


Mineapprox. 0,5 kg
of silver
= 100 pences, Luke.19.13
Talentapprox. 30 kg
of silver
= 60 mines or 6000 pences, thus 1500 shekels, Matt.18.24


Cavernous sizes

UnitValueConversion, links
Logapprox. 0,3 l
(else 0,5 l)
= 6 egg-crust contents
Lev.14.10, Lev.14.12, Lev.14.15, Lev.14.21, Lev.14.24
Cab1,2 l (else 2 l)= 4 logs, 2 Kgs.6.25
Omer (gomer, issaron)2,2 l (else 3,6 l) Exod.16.16, Exod.16.18, Exod.16.22, Exod.16.32-33,
Hin (pint)3,6 l (else 6 l) = 3 cabs = 12 logs, Exod.29.40, Lev.19.36
Measure (seach, bath, firkin)7,2 l = 2 hin, Gen.18.6, Deut.25.14, Deut.25.15, 1 Sam.25.18, 1 Kgs.4.22, 1 Kgs.5.11, 1 Kgs.18.32, 2 Kgs.7.1, 2 Kgs.7.16, 2 Kgs.7.18, Prov.20.10, Mic.6.10, John.2.6, Matt.13.33, Luke.13.21, Rev.6.6), Luke.16.6, Luke.16.7, 1 Kgs.7.38, 2 Chr.2.10, 2 Chr.4.5, Isa.5.10
Ephah (ephi)21,6 l
(else 36 l)
= 10 omers = 3 measures, Judg.6.19, Exod.16.16, Exod.16.18, Exod.16.22, Exod.16.32-33, Exod.16.36
Homer (bath, cor)216 l
(else 360 l)
= 10 ephahs, Lev.27.16, Num.11.32, Ezra.7.22
Epha was the size for loose materials, bat, hin and log for liquid ones.
Else it is mentioned:
Omer= 3 pints
Bath= 9 pints
Homer= 2 measures
Ephah= bat
Seach (sea)12 l
Letec180 l


Linear sizes

UnitConversion, links
General cubitapprox. 40 cmDeut.3.11
King's cubitapprox. 55 cmis bigger for a hand, Ezek.40.5
Romish cubitapprox. 64 cm= 1,5 feet
Cubit= 2 spans = 6 hands (fists, width of 4 fingers) = 24 inches
Reed3,3 m= 6 cubits
Stadiumapprox. 192 m= 300 cubits
Romish mile= 1000 steps = 1,5 stadium
Walk of one Saturday969 m= 2000 cubits


Time data


A (calendar) day began with the sunset and lasted until next-day sunset. A day (without night) was divided to twelve hours and started counting hours from the sunrise (nine hour at Matt.27.46 responds to our 3 p.m.). Romans started day from midnight and that way also apostle John speaks.


In the Old Testament there is a mention about a hour in Dan.3.6 and about a sundial in 2 Kgs.20.9.

3 watches

A night was divided to a first watch until midnight (Lam.2.19), a middle watch until to 3 a.m. (Judg.7.19) and a morning watch (Exod.14.24).

4 watches

In the New Testament there were 4 watches (Mark.13.35) first in between 6-9 p.m. (even), second (Luke.12.38) between 9-12 p.m. (midnight), third 0-3 a.m. (cockcrowing) and fourth (Matt.14.25) 3-6 a.m. (morning).

Daily watches

Same as a night was divided to quarters called watches were 12 hours of a day divided (John.11.9) to quarters and every quarter was called as a hour according the hour in which the quarter began.
Thus was first part called as first hour because it started in first hour. A second part started after third hour and because of that this part was called as a third hour, third part was called as a sixth hour and forth part as a ninth hour.


A week had seven days. Days in a week had no names but they were denoted by numbers. First day after Saturday is our Sunday (1 Cor.16.2).



Monthes were counted according Moon orbit and had 29 or 30 days. Year had 12 monthes and because year was counted according the Sun, every year always a few dayes remained. To set right the residue - every third year was for one month longer and this month was called Ve Adar.

Monthes in Bible are noted by numbers or names in following order:

1Abib (Nisan) Abib had it's name according a corn because in that warmer regions there was corn seedy and harvest started. Because of it the name is explained as a month of new corn. In Caldeian language it was called as Nisan.
7Tisri (Etanim)September-October
9Kislev November-December. Winter started in ninth (Jer.36.22) month and lasted until about eleventh month.
(13)Ve AdarEach 3rd year only. After month Adar


Major annual celebrations and feasts Exod.23.14

Feast of passover14th day of month Abib (Nisan) For memory of outgoing from Egypt. Feast of passover was called because of eating millet (unfermented) breads; it was also called as Eastern, Lev.23.5, Deut.16.1
Feast of harvestseven weeks after Eastern Lev.23.15, Deut.16.9
Feast of tents or gathering15th day of the seventh month In autumn, when fruits, grapevine and all harvest was gathered. Feast of tents has it's name because people were staying seven days during the feast in tents for memory of living in tents in desert, Lev.23.34
Feast of Blowing of trumpets1st day of the seventh month That time calendar year started (on the contrary to ecclesiastic one) and they bought, selled and rented servants and celebrated a jubile, Lev.23.24
Jubileevery fitieth year celebrated after seven times seven years every fiftyth year when everyone returned to his property and family because that year it was always proclaimed a freedom to all the people in country, Lev.25.10.


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