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Shekel

Meaning: weight

the common standard both of weight and value among the Hebrews / used only in the Old Testament, and frequently used in its original form (Gen. 23:15,16; Ex. 21:32; 30:13, 15; 38:24-29, etc.).

It is estimated at 220 English grains, or a little more than half an ounce avoirdupois. The “shekel of the sanctuary” (Ex. 30:13; Num. 3:47) was equal to twenty gerahs in Ezek. 45:12.

There were shekels of gold (1 Chr. 21:25), of silver (1 Sam. 9:8), of brass (17:5), and of iron (7).

When it became a coined piece of money, the shekel of gold was equivalent to about 2 pounds 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; 2 Chr. 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 (Matt. 17:24, 27). A zuza, or quarter of a shekel, was given by Saul to Samuel (1 Sam. 9:8).

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