|Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia|
mezh'-ur, Several different words in the Hebrew and Greek are rendered by "measure" in English Versions of the Bible. In Job 11:9 and Jeremiah 13:25 it stands for madh, middah, and it is the usual rendering of the verb madhadh, "to measure," i.e. "stretch out," "extend," "spread." It is often used to render the words representing particular measures, such as ['ephah] (Deuteronomy 25:14, 15 Proverbs 20:10 Micah 6:10); or kor (1 Kings 4:22; 1 Kings 5:11 (1 Kings 5:2, 5:25 Hebrew text); 2 Chronicles 2:10 (Hebrew text 2:9) 27:5; Ezra 7:22); or seah (Genesis 18:6 1 Samuel 25:18 1 Kings 18:32 2 Kings 7:1, 16, 18); or batos, "bath" (Luke 16:6). For these terms see WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. It also renders middah, "measure of length" (Exodus 26:2); mesurah, a liquid measure (Leviticus 19:35 1 Chronicles 23:29 Ezekiel 4:11, 16); mishpaT, "judgment" (Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28); ca'ce'ah, a word of uncertain meaning, perhaps derived from seah (Isaiah 27:8); shalish, "threefold, large measure" (Psalm 80:5 (Hebrew text Psalm 80:6); Isaiah 40:12); tokhen, and mathkoneth, "weight" and that which is weighed, taken as measure (Ezekiel 45:11). In Isaiah 5:14 it stands for choq, "limit." In the New Testament, besides being the usual rendering of the verb metreo, and of the noun metron, it is used for choinix, a dry measure containing about a quart (Revelation 6:6).
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
wats me'-zhur: The system of weights and measures in use among the Hebrews was derived from Babylonia and Egypt, especially from the former. The influence of these countries upon Palestine has long been recognized, but archaeological investigations in recent years have shown that the civilization of Babylonia impressed itself upon Syria and Palestine more profoundly in early times than did that of Egypt. The evidence of this has been most clearly shown by the discovery of the Tell el-Amarna Letters, which reveal the fact that the official correspondence between the Egyptian kings and their vassals in these lands was carried on in the language of Babylonia long after its political influence had been supplanted by that of Egypt. It is natural, then, that we should look to Babylonia for the origin of such important elements of civilization as a system of weights and measures.
1. Linear Measures:
It was quite natural that men should have found a standard for linear measures in the parts of the human body, and we find the cubit, originally the length of the forearm, taken as the standard, and the span, the palm and the digit, or finger-breadth, associated with it in linear measurement. They do not seem to have employed the foot, though it is represented in the two-thirds of the cubit, which was used by the Babylonians in the manufacture of building-brick.
This system, though adequate enough for man in the earliest times, was not so for an advanced stage of civilization, such as the Babylonians reached before the days of Abraham, and we find that they had introduced a far more accurate and scientific system (see CUBIT). They seem to have employed, however, two cubits, of different lengths, one for commercial purposes and one for building. We have no undoubted examples of either, but judging by the dimensions of their square building-bricks, which are regarded as being two-thirds of a cubit on a side, we judge the latter to have been of about 19 or 20 inches. Now we learn from investigations in Egypt that a similar cubit was employed there, being of from 20.6 to 20.77 inches, and it can hardly be doubted that the Hebrews were familiar with this cubit, but that in more common use was certainly shorter. We have no certain means of determining the length of the ordinary cubit among the Hebrews, but there are two ways by which we may approximate its value. The Siloam Inscription states that the tunnel in which it was found was 1,200 cubits long. The actual length has been found to be about 1,707 feet, which would give a cubit of about 17.1 in. (see PEFS, 1902, 179). Of course the given length may be a round number, but it gives a close approximation.
Again, the Mishna states that the height of a man is 4 cubits, which we may thus regard as the average stature of a Jew in former times. By reference to Jewish tombs we find that they were of a length to give a cubit of something over 17 inches, supposing the stature to be as above, which approximates very closely to the cubit of the Siloam tunnel. The consensus of opinion at the present day inclines toward a cubit of 17.6 inches for commercial purposes and one of about 20 inches for building. This custom of having two standards is illustrated by the practice in Syria today, where the builder's measure, or dra', is about 2 inches longer than the commercial.
Of multiples of the cubit we have the measuring-reed of 6 long cubits, which consisted of a cubit and a hand-breadth each (Ezekiel 40:5), or about 10 feet. Another measure was the Sabbath day's journey, which was reckoned at 2,000 cubits, or about 1,000 yards. The measuring-line was used also, but whether it had a fixed length we do not know.
See SABBATH DAY'S JOURNEY; MEASURING LINE.
In the New Testament we have the fathom (orguia), about 6 feet, and the furlong (stadion), 600 Greek feet or 606 3/4 English feet, which is somewhat less than one-eighth of a mile. The mile (milion) was 5,000 Roman feet, or 4,854 English feet, somewhat less than the English mile.
2. Measures of Capacity:
Regarding the absolute value of the measures of capacity among the Hebrews there is rather more uncertainty than there is concerning those of length and weight, since no examples of the former have come down to us; but their relative value is known. Sir Charles Warren considers them to have been derived from the measures of length by cubing the cubit and its divisions, as also in the case of weight. We learn from Ezekiel 45:11 that the bath and ephah were equivalent, and he (Warren) estimates the capacity of these as that of 1/30 of the cubit cubed, or about 2,333.3 cubic inches, which would correspond to about 9 gallons English measure. Assuming this as the standard, we get the following tables for liquid and dry measure: Ce'ah and lethekh, in the above, occur in the Hebrew text, but only in the margin of the English. It will be noticed that the prevailing element in these tables is the duodecimal which corresponds to the sexagesimal of the Babylonian system, but it will be seen that in the case of weights there was a tendency on the part of the Hebrews to employ the decimal system, making the maneh 50 shekels instead of 60, and the talent 3,000 instead of 3,600, of the Babylonian, so here we see the same tendency in making the `omer the tenth of the 'ephah and the 'ephah the tenth of the chomer or kor.
Weights were probably based by the ancients upon grains of wheat or barley, but the Egyptians and Babylonians early adopted a more scientific method. Sir Charles Warren thinks that they took the cubes of the measures of length and ascertained how many grains of barley corresponded to the quantity of water these cubes would contain. Thus, he infers that the Egyptians fixed the weight of a cubic inch of rain water at 220 grains, and the Babylonians at 222 2/9. Taking the cubic palm at 25,928 cubic inches, the weight of that quantity of water would be 5,760 ancient grains. The talent he regards as the weight of 2/3 of a cubit cubed, which would be equal to 101, 6 cubic palms, but assumes that for convenience it was taken at 100, the weight being 576,000 grains, deriving from this the maneh (1/60 of the talent) of 9,600 grains, and a shekel (1/50 of the maneh) 192 grains. But we have evidence that the Hebrew shekel differed from this and that they used different shekels at different periods. The shekel derived from Babylonia had a double standard: the light of 160 grains, or 1/3600 of the talent; and the heavy of just double this, of 320 grains. The former seems to have been used before the captivity and the latter after. The Babylonian system was sexagesimal, i.e. 60 shekels went to the maneh and 60 manehs to the talent, but the Hebrews reckoned only 50 shekels to the maneh, as appears from Exodus 38:25, 26, where it is stated that the amount of silver collected from 603, 550 males was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, and, as each contributed a half-shekel, the whole amount must have been 301, 775. Deducting the 1,775 shekels mentioned besides the 100 talents, we have 300,000 or 3,000 to the talent, and, as there were 60 manehs in the talent, there were 50 shekels to each maneh. When the Hebrews adopted this system we do not know, but it was in vogue at a very early date.
The shekel was divided into gerahs, 20 to a shekel (Exodus 30:13). The gerah (gerah) is supposed to be some kind of seed, perhaps a bean or some such plant. The shekel of which it formed a part was probably the royal or commercial shekel of 160 grains, derived from Babylon. But the Hebrews certainly had another shekel, called the Phoenician from its being the standard of the Phoenician traders. This would be natural on account of the close connection of the two peoples ever since the days of David and Solomon, but we have certain evidence of it from the extant examples of the monetary shekels of the Jews, which are of this standard, or very nearly so, allowing some loss from abrasion. The Phoenician shekel was about 224 grains, varying somewhat in different localities, and the Jewish shekels now in existence vary from 212 to 220 grains. They were coined after the captivity (see COINS), but whether this standard was in use before we have no means of knowing.
Examples of ancient weights have been discovered in Palestine by archaeological research during recent years, among them one from Samaria, obtained by Dr. Chaplin, bearing the inscription, in Hebrew rebha` netseph. This is interpreted, by the help of the cognate Arabic, as meaning "quarter-half," i.e. of a shekel. The actual weight is 39.2 grains, which, allowing a slight loss, would correspond quite closely to a quarter-shekel of the light Babylonian standard of 160 grains, or the quarter of the half of the double standard. Another specimen discovered at Tell Zakariyeh weighs 154 grains, which would seem to belong to the same standard. The weights, of which illustrations are given in the table, are all in the collection of the Syrian Protestant College, at Beirut, and were obtained from Palestine and Phoenicia and are of the Phoenician standard, which was the common commercial standard of Palestine. The largest, of the spindle or barrel type, weighs 1,350 grains, or 87.46 grams, evidently intended for a 6-shekel weight, and the smaller ones of the same type are fractions of the Phoenician shekel. They were of the same standard, one a shekel and the other a two-shekel weight. They each have 12 faces, and the smaller has a lion stamped on each face save one, reminding us of the lion-weights discovered in Assyria and Babylonia. The spindle weights are of black stone, the others of bronze.
The above is the Phoenician standard. In the Babylonian the shekel would be 160 or 320 grains; the maneh 8,000 or 16,000, and the talent 480,000 or 960,000 grains, according as it was of the light or heavy standard.
Measures (50 Occurrences)
Matthew 13:33 He spoke another parable to them. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until it was all leavened." (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 13:21 It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened." (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. (KJV ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV)
Luke 16:7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. (KJV ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV)
John 2:6 Now there were standing there six stone water-vessels, according to the purification of the Jews, holding two or three measures each. (DBY YLT)
Acts 24:2 When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, "Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that excellent measures are coming to this nation, (WEB DBY)
Acts 27:17 After they had hoisted it up, they used cables to help reinforce the ship. Fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis sand bars, they lowered the sea anchor, and so were driven along. (See RSV)
2 Corinthians 13:10 For this cause I am writing these things while I am away, so that there may be need for me, when I am present, to make use of sharp measures, by the authority which the Lord has given me for building up and not for destruction. (BBE)
Revelation 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. (KJV ASV BBE WBS YLT)
Genesis 18:6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly make ready three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Leviticus 19:35 "'You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity. (WEB ASV BBE RSV)
Leviticus 19:36 Have true scales, true weights and measures for all things: I am the Lord your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt; (BBE)
Deuteronomy 25:14 You shall not have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 25:15 A perfect and just weight shalt thou have; a perfect and just measure shalt thou have; that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (See NIV)
Ruth 3:15 He said, "Bring the mantle that is on you, and hold it." She held it; and he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her; and he went into the city. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ruth 3:17 She said, "He gave me these six measures of barley; for he said,'Don't go empty to your mother-in-law.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 25:18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread, two bottles of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Kings 4:22 Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and sixty measures of meal, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
1 Kings 5:11 Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
1 Kings 7:9 All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside toward the great court. (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT)
1 Kings 7:11 And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones, and cedars. (KJV DBY WBS YLT)
1 Kings 18:32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of Yahweh. He made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
2 Kings 7:1 Elisha said, "Hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says Yahweh,'Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
2 Kings 7:16 The people went out, and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of Yahweh. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
2 Kings 7:18 It happened, as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, "Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria;" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Chronicles 23:29 The holy bread was in their care, and the crushed grain for the meal offering, of unleavened cakes or meal cooked over the fire or in water; they had control of all sorts of weights and measures; (BBE NAS RSV)
2 Chronicles 2:10 Behold, I will give to your servants, the cutters who cut timber, twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
2 Chronicles 27:5 He fought also with the king of the children of Ammon, and prevailed against them. The children of Ammon gave him the same year one hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon render to him, in the second year also, and in the third. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
Ezra 7:22 to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
Job 28:25 He establishes the force of the wind. Yes, he measures out the waters by measure. (WEB)
Job 38:5 Who determined its measures, if you know? Or who stretched the line on it? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Proverbs 16:11 True measures and scales are the Lord's: all the weights of the bag are his work. (BBE)
Proverbs 20:10 Differing weights and differing measures, both of them alike are an abomination to Yahweh. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 18:2 that sends ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of papyrus on the waters, saying, "Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, to a people awesome from their beginning onward, a nation that measures out and treads down, whose land the rivers divide!" (WEB)
Isaiah 18:7 In that time, a present will be brought to Yahweh of Armies from a people tall and smooth, even from a people awesome from their beginning onward, a nation that measures out and treads down, whose land the rivers divide, to the place of the name of Yahweh of Armies, Mount Zion. (WEB)
Isaiah 44:13 The woodworker is measuring out the wood with his line, marking it out with his pencil: after smoothing it with his plane, and making circles on it with his instrument, he gives it the form and glory of a man, so that it may be placed in the house. (See NIV)
Jeremiah 13:25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. (KJV WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:24 He led me toward the south; and behold, a gate toward the south: and he measured its posts and its arches according to these measures. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:28 Then he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he measured the south gate according to these measures; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:29 and its lodges, and its posts, and its arches, according to these measures: and there were windows in it and in its arches all around; it was fifty cubits long, and twenty-five cubits broad. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:32 He brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he measured the gate according to these measures; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:33 and its lodges, and its posts, and its arches, according to these measures: and there were windows therein and in its arches all around; it was fifty cubits long, and twenty-five cubits broad. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:35 He brought me to the north gate: and he measured it according to these measures; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 40:36 Its rooms, its uprights, and its covered way had the same measures, and its covered way had windows all round: it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. (BBE)
Ezekiel 43:13 These are the measures of the altar by cubits (the cubit is a cubit and a handbreadth): the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and its border around its edge a span; and this shall be the base of the altar. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 48:16 These shall be its measures: the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 48:30 And these are the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures. (KJV WBS YLT)
Ezekiel 48:33 And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. (KJV WBS YLT NIV)
Ezekiel 48:35 It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. (KJV WBS)
Haggai 2:16 Through all that time, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty, there were only twenty. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)