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Reference: Shekel


The shekel was properly and only a weight. It was used especially in weighing uncoined gold and silver: "The land is worth 400 shekels of silver...Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver-in the audience of the sons of Heth," Ge 23:15-16. In such cases the word shekel is often omitted in the Hebrew, as in Ge 20:16; 37:28, where our translators have supplied the word "pieces," but improperly, because coined money was not then known. See MONEY. Between the sacred shekel, Ex 30:13, and the shekel after the "king's weight," 2Sa 14:26, there would seem to have been a difference; but this and many think the phrase "shekel of the sanctuary" simply means a full and just shekel, according to the temple standards. The first coin, which bore the name of shekel was struck after the exile in the time of the Maccabees, and bore the inscription, Shekel of Israel. Bockh, whose authority in matters pertaining to ancient weights and measures is very high, fixes it proximately at 274 Paris grains. It is the coin mentioned in the New Testament, Mt 26:15, etc., where our translators have rendered it by "pieces of silver."

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weight, the common standard both of weight and value among the Hebrews. It is estimated at 220 English grains, or a little more than half an ounce avoirdupois. The "shekel of the sanctuary" (Ex 30:13; Nu 3:47, Illustration: Sanctuary Half-Shekel) was equal to twenty gerahs (Eze 45:12). There were shekels of gold (1Ch 21:25), of silver (1Sa 9:8), of brass (1Sa 17:5), and of iron (1Sa 17:7). When it became a coined piece of money, the shekel of gold was equivalent to about 2 pound of our money. Six gold shekels, according to the later Jewish system, were equal in value to fifty silver ones.

The temple contribution, with which the public sacrifices were bought (Ex 30:13; 2Ch 24:6), consisted of one common shekel, or a sanctuary half-shekel, equal to two Attic drachmas. The coin, a stater (q.v.), which Peter found in the fish's mouth paid this contribution for both him and Christ (Mt 17:24,27). A zuza, or quarter of a shekel, was given by Saul to Samuel (1Sa 9:8, Illustration: Zuza).

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(See MONEY.) It is found inscribed only with the Samaritan character, the original form of the Hebrew. The lulab is a frequent symbol, namely, branches of the three trees in Le 23:40, the palm, the myrtle, and the willow, carried at the feast of tabernacles. Also the citron fruit, and a palm tree between two baskets of fruit.

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See Money


SHEKEL, ???, signifies weight, money, shekel, siclus, a Hebrew weight and money, Ex 30:23-24; 2Sa 14:26. Shekel is used to denote the weight of any thing; as iron, hair, spices, &c. Dr. Arbuthnot makes the weight of the shekel equal to 9 dwt. 2 4/7 gr. English troy weight; and the value equal to 2s. 3 3/8 d. sterling money: but the golden shekel was worth 1l. 16s. 6d. English money. Some are of the opinion that the Jews had two kinds of shekels, namely, the common one already noticed, and the shekel of the sanctuary, which last they make double the former. But most authors make them the same, and think that the word sanctuary is added to express a just and exact weight, according to the standards kept in the temple or tabernacle. Moses, Nu 18:16, and Eze 45:12. say, that the shekel was worth twenty gerahs.

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