WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Archaeological evidence, the Bible itself, and other ancient writings provide the basis for assigning approximate values to the various weights and measures used by the Hebrews.
Linear Measures. The linear measures employed by the Hebrews were evidently derived from the human body. Since the ratio in length or width of one part of the body to another can be determined, it is possible to ascertain the relationship of one linear measurement to another; and based on archaeological evidence pointing to a cubit of about 44.5 cm (17.5 in.), approximate modern values can be given to the linear measurements mentioned in the Bible. (See CUBIT.) The chart that follows presents the relationship of the Hebrew linear measures to one another as well as their approximate modern equivalents.
Linear Measures 


Modern Equivalent 

1 fingerbreadth 
= 1⁄4 handbreadth 
1.85 cm (0.72 in.) 
1 handbreadth 
= 4 fingerbreadths 
7.4 cm (2.9 in.) 
1 span 
= 3 handbreadths 
22.2 cm (8.75 in.) 
1 cubit 
= 2 spans 
44.5 cm (17.5 in.) 
1 long cubit* 
= 7 handbreadths 
51.8 cm (20.4 in.) 
1 short cubit 
38 cm (15 in.) 

1 reed 
= 6 cubits 
2.67 m (8.75 ft) 
1 long reed 
= 6 long cubits 
3.11 m (10.2 ft) 
* Possibly the same as the “former” cubit of 2Ch 3:3. 
There is some uncertainty about the measure designated by the Hebrew term goʹmedh, appearing solely at Judges 3:16 with reference to the length of Ehud’s sword. In numerous translations this word is rendered “cubit.” (KJ, Le, JB, NW, Ro, RS) Some scholars believe that goʹmedh denotes a short cubit roughly corresponding to the distance from the elbow to the knuckles of the clenched hand. This would be about 38 cm (15 in.).—NE.
Other linear measurements mentioned in the Scriptures are the fathom (1.8 m; 6 ft); the staʹdi·on, or furlong (185 m; 606.75 ft); and the mile, probably the Roman mile (1,479.5 m; 4,854 ft). The word “journey” is often used in connection with a general distance covered. (Ge 31:23; Ex 3:18; Nu 10:33; 33:8) A day’s journey was perhaps 32 km (20 mi) or more, while a Sabbath day’s journey appears to have been about 1 km (0.6 mi).—Mt 24:20; Ac 1:12; see FATHOM; FURLONG; JOURNEY; MILE.
Measures of Capacity. Based on jar fragments bearing the designation “bath” in ancient Hebrew characters, the capacity of the bath measure is reckoned at approximately 22 L (5.81 gal). In the charts that follow, dry and liquid measures are figured in relation to the bath measure. The relationship of one measure to another, when not stated in the Bible, is drawn from other ancient writings.—See BATH; CAB; COR; HIN; HOMER; LOG; OMER; SEAH.
Dry Measures 


Modern Equivalent 

1 cab 
= 4 logs 
1.22 L (2.2 dry pt) 
1 omer 
= 1 4⁄5 cabs 
2.2 L (2 dry qt) 
1 seah 
= 3 1⁄3 omers 
7.33 L (6.66 dry qt) 
1 ephah 
= 3 seahs 
22 L (20 dry qt) 
1 homer 
= 10 ephahs 
220 L (200 dry qt) 
Liquid Measures 


Modern Equivalent 

1 log 
= 1⁄4 cab 
0.31 L (0.66 pt) 
1 cab 
= 4 logs 
1.22 L (2.58 pt) 
1 hin 
= 3 cabs 
3.67 L (7.75 pt) 
1 bath 
= 6 hins 
22 L (5.81 gal) 
1 cor 
= 10 baths 
220 L (58.1 gal) 
Other dry and liquid measures. The Hebrew word ʽis·sa·rohnʹ, meaning “tenth,” often denotes a tenth of an ephah. (Ex 29:40; Le 14:10; 23:13, 17; Nu 15:4) According to Targum Jonathan, the “six measures of barley” (literally, six of barley) mentioned at Ruth 3:15 are six seah measures. On the authority of the Mishnah and the Vulgate, the Hebrew term leʹthekh is understood to designate a half homer. (Ho 3:2; AS, KJ, Da, JP, Le, NW; Bava Mezia 6:5 ftn and appendix II, D, translated by H. Danby) The Greek terms me·tre·tesʹ (appearing in the plural at John 2:6 and rendered “liquid measures”) and baʹtos (found in the plural at Lu 16:6) are equated by some with the Hebrew bath measure. The Greek khoiʹnix (quart) is commonly thought to be slightly more than a liter or a little less than a U.S. dry quart.—Re 6:5, 6.
Weights. Archaeological evidence suggests that a shekel weighed approximately 11.4 g (0.403 oz avdp; 0.367 oz t). Using this as a basis, the chart that follows sets forth the relationship of the Hebrew weights and their approximate modern equivalent.
Weights 


Modern Equivalent 

1 gerah 
= 1⁄20 shekel 
0.57 g (0.01835 oz t) 
1 bekah (half shekel) 
= 10 gerahs 
5.7 g (0.1835 oz t) 
1 shekel 
= 2 bekahs 
11.4 g (0.367 oz t) 
1 mina (maneh) 
= 50 shekels 
570 g (18.35 oz t) 
1 talent 
= 60 minas 
34.2 kg (75.5 lb avdp; 91.75 lb t; 1101 oz t) 
The Greek word liʹtra is generally equated with the Roman pound (327 g; 11.5 oz avdp). The mina of the Christian Greek Scriptures is reckoned at 100 drachmas. (See DRACHMA.) This would mean that the Greek mina weighed 340 g (10.9 oz t) and the Greek talent, 20.4 kg (44.8 lb avdp; 54.5 lb t; 654 oz t).—See MINA; MONEY; SHEKEL; TALENT.
Area. The Hebrews designated the size of a plot of land either by the amount of seed needed to sow it (Le 27:16; 1Ki 18:32) or by what a span of bulls could plow in a day.—1Sa 14:14, ftn.