|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Occurs in Leviticus 19:36 and Isaiah 46:6, as the rendering of the Hebrew kanch', which properly means "a reed" or "a cane," then a rod or beam of a balance. This same word is translated "measuring reed" in Ezek. 40:3,5; 42:16-18. There is another Hebrew word, mozena'yim, i.e., "two poisers", also so rendered (Dan. 5:27). The balances as represented on the most ancient Egyptian monuments resemble those now in use. A "pair of balances" is a symbol of justice and fair dealing (Job 31:6; Psalm 62:9; Proverbs 11:1). The expression denotes great want and scarcity in Revelation 6:5.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) An apparatus for weighing.
2. (n.) Act of weighing mentally; comparison; estimate.
3. (n.) Equipoise between the weights in opposite scales.
4. (n.) The state of being in equipoise; equilibrium; even adjustment; steadiness.
5. (n.) An equality between the sums total of the two sides of an account; as, to bring one's accounts to a balance; -- also, the excess on either side; as, the balance of an account.
6. (n.) A balance wheel, as of a watch, or clock. See Balance wheel (in the Vocabulary).
7. (n.) The constellation Libra.
8. (n.) The seventh sign in the Zodiac, called Libra, which the sun enters at the equinox in September.
9. (n.) A movement in dancing. See Balance, v. i., S.
10. (n.) To bring to an equipoise, as the scales of a balance by adjusting the weights; to weigh in a balance.
11. (n.) To support on a narrow base, so as to keep from falling; as, to balance a plate on the end of a cane; to balance one's self on a tight rope.
12. (n.) To equal in number, weight, force, or proportion; to counterpoise, counterbalance, counteract, or neutralize.
13. (n.) To compare in relative force, importance, value, etc.; to estimate.
14. (n.) To settle and adjust, as an account; to make two accounts equal by paying the difference between them.
15. (n.) To make the sums of the debits and credits of an account equal; -- said of an item; as, this payment, or credit, balances the account.
16. (n.) To arrange accounts in such a way that the sum total of the debits is equal to the sum total of the credits; as, to balance a set of books.
17. (n.) To move toward, and then back from, reciprocally; as, to balance partners.
18. (n.) To contract, as a sail, into a narrower compass; as, to balance the boom mainsail.
19. (v. i.) To have equal weight on each side; to be in equipoise; as, the scales balance.
20. (v. i.) To fluctuate between motives which appear of equal force; to waver; to hesitate.
21. (v. i.) To move toward a person or couple, and then back.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
bal'-ans The English word "balance" is from the Latin bilanx = "having two scales" (bi = "two" and lanx = "plate," or "scale"). It is used to render three Hebrew words:
(1) mo'znayim (Leviticus 19:36 Job 6:2 Psalm 62:9 Proverbs 11:1 Isaiah 40:12, 15 Jeremiah 32:10, etc.);
(2) qaneh (Isaiah 46:6), and
(3) pelec (Proverbs 16:11).
It is found in the sing., e.g. "a just balance" (Proverbs 16:11); "a pair of balances" (Revelation 6:5, etc.), as well as in the plur., e.g. "just balances" (Leviticus 19:36), "weighed in the balances" (Daniel 5:27, etc.).
1. Balances among the Ancient Hebrews; the Parts, etc.:
(1) The "balances" of the ancient Hebrews differed little, if at all, from those used by the Egyptians (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt (1878), II, 246). They consisted, probably, of a horizontal bar, either pivoted on a perpendicular rod (see Erman, Aegypten, I, 615 for similar Egyptian balances), or suspended from a cord and held in the hand, the more primitive form. At the ends of the bar were pans, or hooks, from which the things to be weighed were suspended, sometimes in bags.
A good description of the more developed and final form is this: A beam with its fulcrum in the middle and its arms precisely equal. From the ends of the arms were suspended two scales, the one to receive the object to be weighed, the other the counterpoise, or weight.
(2) The weights were of stone at first and are so named in Deuteronomy 25:13 King James Version, margin. A pair of scales (the King James Version "a pair of balances") is used in Revelation 6:5 by a figure of speech for the balance as a whole; only once is the beam so used, in Isaiah 46:6, literally, "weigh silver in the beam." Abraham, we are told (Genesis 23:16), "weighed the silver."
2. Probably of Babylonian Origin:
The basis and fountain-head of all systems of weights and measurements is to be traced, it is now thought, to Babylonia; but the primitive instruments and systems were subject to many modifications as they entered other regions and passed into the derivative systems. The Roman "balance" is the same as our steelyard (vulgarly called "stillyards"). Compare the Chinese, Danish, etc.
3. The System of Weighing Liable to Fraud:
Though the "balances" in ancient times were rudely constructed, the weighing could be done quite accurately, as may be seen in the use of equally primitive balances in the East today. But the system was liable to fraud. A "false balance" might be literally one so constructed that the arms were of unequal length, when the longer arm would be intended, of course, for the article to be weighed. The system was liable, however, to various other subtle abuses then as now; hence the importance in God's sight of "true weights" and a "just balance" is enforced again and again (see Leviticus 19:36 Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:23 Amos 8:5 Micah 6:11, etc.).
4. "Wicked Balances" Condemned:
"A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh" (Proverbs 11:1; compare Proverbs 20:23), and "a just balance and scales are Yahweh's" (Proverbs 16:11). Hosea 12:7 condemns "the balances of deceit" in the hand of the wicked; Amos 8:5 (the King James Version) cries out upon "falsifying the balances by deceit," and Micah 6:11 denounces "wicked balances." Indeed, the righteousness of a just balance and true weights, and the iniquity of false ones are everywhere emphasized by the lawmakers, prophets and moral teachers of Israel, and the preacher or teacher who would expose and denounce such things in God's name today need be at no loss for texts and precedents.
See WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
Wilkinson, Ancient Egypt; Erman, Egypt; Lepsius, Denkmaler; and articles on "Balance." etc., in Smith, DB, EB, Jewish Encyclopedia, HDB, etc.
George B. Eager
Balance (12 Occurrences)
Revelation 6:5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come and see!" And behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a balance in his hand. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Leviticus 25:27 then let him reckon the years since its sale, and restore the surplus to the man to whom he sold it; and he shall return to his property. (See NAS NIV)
Job 28:16 It is not set in the balance with gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, and the sapphire. (DBY)
Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not be compared to it, neither shall it be set in the balance with pure gold. (DBY)
Job 31:6 (let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know my integrity); (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Psalms 62:9 Surely men of low degree are just a breath, and men of high degree are a lie. In the balances they will go up. They are together lighter than a breath. (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh, but accurate weights are his delight. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Proverbs 16:11 Honest balances and scales are Yahweh's; all the weights in the bag are his work. (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 20:23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. (KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the sky with his span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 40:15 Behold, the nations are like a drop in a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on a balance. Behold, he lifts up the islands like a very little thing. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS YLT)
Isaiah 46:6 Some pour out gold from the bag, and weigh silver in the balance. They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god. They fall down-yes, they worship. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)