By Israel21c Staff - November 27, 2018
An extremely rare artifact from the First Temple era, 3,000 years ago, was unearthed recently during the sifting of archaeological soil taking place in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park: a tiny stone weight engraved with ancient Hebrew letters spelling “beka.”
The beka weight was used to weigh the half-shekel tax brought by adult Jews for the maintenance of the Temple and for the purpose of taking a census, as mentioned in Exodus 38:26: “One beka per head; [that is,] half a shekel, according to the holy shekel, for each one who goes through the counting.”
Archaeologist Eli Shukron, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority under the auspices of the City of David Foundation, explained that when the half-shekel tax was brought during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. A biblical shekel weighed 11.33 grams.
“In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the beka weight. The beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple.”
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