money of the Bible

Of uncoined money, the first notice in Scripture we have is in the history of Abraham, which mentions silver and gold and “pieces of silver” (Genesis 13:2; 20:16; 24:35).

Next, this word is used in connection with the purchase of the cave of Machpelah (23:16), and again in connection with Jacob's purchase of a field at Shalem (Genesis 33:18-19) for “an hundred pieces of money” = a hundred Hebrew kesitahs, i.e., probably pieces of money, as is supposed, bearing the figure of a lamb.

The history of Joseph affords evidence of the constant use of money, silver of a fixed weight. This appears also in all the subsequent history of the Jewish people, in all their internal as well as foreign transactions. There were in common use in trade silver pieces of a definite weight, shekels, half-shekels, and quarter-shekels. But these were not properly coins, which are pieces of metal authoritatively issued, and bearing a stamp.

Of the use of coined money, we have no early notice among the Hebrews. The first mentioned is of Persian coinage, the daric (Ezra 2:69; Neh. 7:70) and the 'adarkon (Ezra 8:27). The daric was a gold piece current in Israel in the time of Cyrus.

As long as the Jews, after the Exile, lived under Persian rule, they used Persian coins. These gave place to Greek coins when Israel came under the dominion of the Greeks (B.C. 331), the coins consisting of gold, silver, and copper pieces. The usual gold pieces were staters, and the silver coins tetradrachms and drachmas.

In the year B.C. 140, Antiochus VII gave permission to Simon the Maccabee to coin Jewish money. Shekels were then coined bearing the figure of the almond rod and the pot of manna which were stored in the Ark of the Covenant.

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Article Version: July 26, 2019