Bible Weights, Measures, Monetary Values


#1

I’m looking for a chart that I can copy and print of the approximate values in the Bible. Weights, measures and monetary values.

How much is a kor? Is it a volume, a weight, or a monetary value. Talent, shekel etc. When it comes to distances, I want to know how far and how much time.

Is there a copyable chart online that I can paste into my word-processor? I want to print it and put it in my bible for reference.

Please include a link if you know.

Thanks.

Enjoy the cake with some French Roast coffee.


#2

When you look things up in different places and find different answers to your questions, it can get very frustrating. Some time ago I set out to settle the question for myself, trying to match up the figures quoted in different dictionaries, Bibles, etc. Since you mention specifically the cor, here’s what I found in the case of liquid measure. The table doesn’t show up properly in the format they use here for these comment threads. The three figures in each line are supposed to appear under the column headings, amphorae, librae, litres.

Liquid measure

In the Torah, the amount of flour to be offered as a sacrifice is defined as an issaron (עשרון), meaning a tenth (Numbers 15.4). The term is invariably understood to mean a tenth of an ephah. Earlier, Moses had decreed that the daily ration of manna in the desert was to be an omer (עומר), literally a sheaf, i.e. a unit of capacity corresponding to as much grain as an average sheaf of wheat would yield (Exodus 16.16). A few verses later it is explained that an omer was a tenth of an ephah. Issaron and omer are therefore held to be two names for one and the same unit of capacity, which forms part of a decimal series: 10 issaron or omer = 1 ephah, 10 ephah = 1 cor. (The ephah also has an alternative name, the bath.) This decimal series is held to be of very early origin, possibly Egyptian, in contrast with the duodecimal scales characteristic of Greek and Roman weights and measures.

In the hellenistic period the Judean units of liquid measure became fully integrated with the Greek and Roman systems. All or most of the Judean units had become closely aligned with the corresponding Roman units. The seah, for example, one-third of an ephah, was equal to the Roman urna, one-half of an amphora. The amphora, also known as the quadrantal, was defined in two ways, as a cubic foot and also as the volume of 80 pounds of wine or water.* Assuming a specific gravity of 1, the equation works out at a little over 25.9 litres. The metric equivalent of the amphora is usually stated as approximately 26.2 litres. Whatever the exact present-day equivalent, in antiquity the amphora was held to be two-thirds of the Greek metretes, which was the same as the ephah. Several of these larger units of capacity, in fact, give a neat match with the notional weight of water expressed in Roman pounds:

Liquid measure, selected units Amphorae Librae Litres

1 issaron or omer (J) 0.15 12 3.94
1 seah (J) or urna ® 0.5 40 13.1
1 amphora ® 1 80 26.2
1 ephah (J) or metretes (G) 1.5 120 39.4
1 cor (J) 15 1 200 394
1 culeus ® 20 1 600 525

G: Greek, J: Judean, R: Roman

*This is a further instance of Roman tolerance of what would nowadays be considered unacceptable inaccuracy: “The Romans were aware that there is a difference in the specific gravity of wine and of water, and in the different sorts of each, but, for the sake of simplicity, they regarded them as of the same specific gravity; when, however, they wished a very exact determination, they used rain water” (Smith, DG&RA, p. 979a, footnote).


#3

BarthomolewB

biblehub.com/weights-and-measures/

Thank you for your dedicated effort. I decided on this chart and figured out how to paste it into MS Word. I have already printed it for my bible with all the other papers I nest in there.

a


#4

Thank you for that Bible Hub page, I didn’t know about that. I’ve also saved a copy for my own use.

There are one or two inconsistencies, though. The two cubits, for example: we know that six long cubits were equal to seven short cubits, but the Bible Hub numbers don’t work out exactly right.

Regards
Bart


#5

Bart,
Glad you found the link helpful. Did you think about informing the editors at BibleHub regarding this discrepancy?

While reading the Old Testament, I usually became frustrated because the weights and measures grated on my attempt to understand the text. For example, how far is a stadia? One mile? Ten miles? They knew. The inexperienced reader, me, doesn’t know.

Why isn’t this information in the footnotes? Why didn’t the bible editors put a table in that edition? Why didn’t they think about questions the common man would ask?

One talent is 75 pounds approximately. I don’t care about exact. I care about meaning. Therefore, I can multiply 75 pounds of gold by 16 ounces and get 1,200 ounces. At this exact time (12:49 pm California time) one ounce of gold is worth $1,323. One talent is worth is worth $1,587,600. I used to think, “Why is this master angry about a few hundred dollars?” Wow, Jesus was talking about an enormous sum(s) of money. Therefore, the investment of my life in this world is of huge value. Fear and indifference will bring condemnation on me.

This simple calculation brought huge meaning to me. Knowledge is power.

Your thoughts please.

a

Did you have some coffee with a piece of cake?
If not, do so. you’ll feel better.


#6

Im pretty sure this is OT time, and Im not sure how widely this was used, but the ‘Jewish EL’, was supposedly the length from the tip of the fingers to the elbow of the king at the time, roughly about 15-18", ( so Im assuming this measurement changed from time to time, from king to king??)


#7

Atassina

Many Bibles do provide this information, either in the footnotes or in tables at the back, sometimes both. The TEV (Today’s English Version) translation, a.k.a. The Good News Bible, goes further. It simply converts all the measurements in the text. For instance, here is Ezekiel 40:7, first in the Jerusalem Bible:

Each guardroom one rod by one rod; and the walls between the guardrooms five cubits thick; and the threshold of the gate inwards from the porch of the gate: one rod.

And in the Good News Bible:

*Beyond it there was a passageway, which had three guardrooms on each side. Each of the rooms was square, 10 feet on each side, and the walls between them were 8 feet thick. Beyond the guardrooms there was a passageway 10 feet long that led to an entrance room that faced the Temple. *

In the meantime, I’ve found other discrepancies in the Bible Hub conversion tables. For instance, it gives “furlong” (in Revelation) as “1/8 mile, 660 feet, 201.2 meters.” But in Bibles that use the word “furlong,” it’s there as the translation of the Greek word “stadion.” The stadion was indeed one-eighth of a mile, but that was the Roman mile, which was about 8 percent shorter than our present-day mile of 1760 yards. That means that in the table, the conversion figures for the furlong and the stadion should be the same as each other, something close to 607 feet or 185 meters.

Regards
Bart


#8

Bart,
I’m grateful for your persistence and your research. IAll Bibles should provide this information at least in the footnotes. I went most of my life thinking a talent had something do do with a small amount of money and an ability (like teaching).

Distances and size have meaning. Why isn’t this information published in all Bibles?

thanks

a


#9

It’s a great dilemma for translators. Keep the archaic units as-is? Convert to modern units? Express them with a paraphrase? Not everyone is reading the footnotes so you want the text itself to be as understandable as possible. But weights and measurements are one of the stickier problems out there.


#10

I was unaware of this translating dilemma. I am just some guy with a computer, a connection to the internet and a desire to learn.

I’ve seen the sidebars and footnotes in Protestant Bible translations. They appear to be more helpful. Perhaps future Catholic editions could take a nod from this type of formatting.

a


#11

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.