Just Weights and Measures

Our last couple of posts have illustrated some texts from Deuteronomy. Yet another text we want to consider is found in Deuteronomy 25:13-15:

13 You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15 A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

The Israel Museum has a set of scales on display that would be illustrative of this text.

Set of ancient scales. Israel Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Set of ancient scales. Israel Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

There are also some examples of standard weights.

Standard weights in biblical times. Israel Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Standard weights in biblical times. Israel Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

At left is the beqa, at center is the pym (pim), and at right is the nezif. Of special interest to Old Testament studies is the “pim,” the Hebrew word occurring only in 1 Sam. 13:21: “and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads” (NKJV). This is speaking of the days of King Saul when the Philistines had a monopoly on the blacksmith industry. Others translations render, “They charged two-thirds of a shekel to sharpen plowshares and cutting instruments, and a third of a shekel to sharpen picks and axes, and to set ox goads” (NET).

The NET BIBLE has this textual note:

This word, which appears only here in the OT, probably refers to a stone weight. Stones marked pim have been found in excavations of Palestinian sites. The average weight of such stones is 0.268 ounces, which is equivalent to about two-thirds of a shekel. This probably refers to the price charged by the Philistines for the services listed. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 238; DNWSI 2:910; and G. I. Davies, Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions, 259.

As illustrated above, the pim, the standard would be on one side of the scales. The customer would put an equal weight of silver on the other side (this was before coinage).

Consider some related passages (NKJV).

Leviticus 19:36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Proverbs 11:1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.

Proverbs 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the LORD’s; All the weights in the bag are His work.

Proverbs 20:10 Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 20:23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, And dishonest scales are not good.

Ezekiel 45:10 You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah, and an honest bath.

Micah 6:11 Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, And with the bag of deceitful weights?

We made a previous posts regarding scales to illustrate Daniel 5 here.

Click on images for larger view.

 

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