Somebody bite on the **Daniel 5:25 NWT-Cross Reference Why Half Shekel? Not half mene?**

by itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat 11 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    I wanna talk about this more....please

  • Leolaia

    Well I guess I'll bite. The Society follows Otto Eisenfelt's suggestion that peres refers to a half shekel; the reasoning is that it means simply "half" and the value depends on context, "a mina, a shekel, and a half," the half being half of a shekel. This makes some sense too as the values are in decreasing order, which is what one would expect a merchant to pronounce on an item. But there is no evidence afaik that peres could have such a value. Actual references to this weight always give a value of a half mina. So most scholars do not regard peres as simply "half" but a specific weight with the value half mina. The interpretation of the values however is impacted by discrepencies in the text (between the LXX and the MT) and between the inscription and the interpretation: mene is doubled in one, and not the other, and peres is doubled (as the plural parsin) in one and not the other. One common reading is that Nebuchadnezzar is the mina and compared to him Belshazzar is the worthless shekel. If peres refers to a shekel as Eisenfelt thought, then that shekel is split and divided between the Medes and Persians (accounting for the plural). The story of Darius the Mede in the adjoining chapter however presents him as a God-fearing sort of person compared to the impious Belshazzar, so the mina interpretation has him of greater worth as a half mina (but not as great as Nebuchadnezzar). This would be in accord with ch. 2 which presents the second kingdom (the Medes) as "inferior" to that of Nebuchadnezzar ("you" in the dream interpretation). Or is it that Nebuchadnezzar is two minas (i.e. mene mene), Belshazzar a shekel, and a full mina is split between the Medes and the Persians? The text admits several possible readings.

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    Thanks for starting it off. What has my focus is the Babylonian currency.

    The three words were common ones in the Chaldaic language, but they also were words used to describe units of Babylonian money. The base unit of their ancient monetary system was the gerah. Twenty of these gerahs formed one shekel [or, tekel]. One thousand gerahs made a Minah [or, Mena]. While there was no coin known as a Peres or Upharsin [the plural of Peres], the word meaning division was used as we use the word half in much the same manner as we refer to a half dollar. It referred to a half Minah(* see below), being equal to 500 gerahs. Treating these words as monetary units, then, we find:

    Mena 1000 gerahs
    Mena 1000 gerahs
    Tekel 20 gerahs
    Upharsin 500 gerahs
    Total 2520 gerahs

    times of the Gentiles happens to be 2,520 ?

    Dan. 5:25-28

    Insight Vol. II, page 1178

  • Leolaia

    What is your source?

    The gerah was not the base of the Babylonian monetary system; it is not even a unit in it. The base was the shiqlu (Sumerian GÍN) as the shekel is in the Hebrew/Aramaic system, and there are fractions thereof (the smallest fraction is not necessarily the base of the system), but gerah is a Hebrew unit, not a Babylonian one, worth a 20th of a shekel (Exodus 30:13, Ezekiel 45:12). The Babylonian unit girû is a cognate word to Hebrew girah, but it has a different value: it is 24th of a shiqlu. Nor is the girû the smallest fraction in the Babylonian system; the hallûru is 40th of a shiqlu and uttetu (Sumerian SHE) is 140th or 180th of a shiqlu.

    The same is the case with the mina. In the Babylonian system, the manû (Sumerian MA.NA) equals 60 shiqlu, i.e. 1440 girû. Even if we substitute the Hebrew gerah, the total is still 1200, not 1000. There is some evidence again that the Canaanite/Israelite system (such as at Ugarit) differed from the Babylonian one and had 50 shekels to 1 mina (yielding a total of 1000 girahs). But Ezekiel 45:12 shows that Jews in the Babylonian captivity recognized that the mina equalled 60 shekels or 1200 gerahs.

    Third, you make parsin equal 500 gerahs, purportedly half a mina. But parsin is plural; it is peres that is half a mina. So this raises the possibility that parsin is the same as a mina, but split into half minas for two recipients (the Medes and the Persians).

    Fourth, the number 2,520 is not found in Daniel but rather is derived from it, and there is nothing in Daniel about "times of the Gentiles" being equated with 2,520 years, or the value of these weights being equivalent to a span of years.

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    Hebrew Weights. Common Babylonian verbage at the time of Daniel? You tell me?

    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.
    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)

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    My terminology was off by saying babylonian money, more like (Aramaic/Hebrew) but what about the rest of the items? Although known in babylonian circles or terminology at the time.

    the early reference was

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    "But Ezekiel 45:12 shows that Jews in the Babylonian captivity recognized that the mina equalled 60 shekels or 1200 gerahs."

    At a later time

    p. 197 BABYLONIAN TALMUD (Sancino)

    Should one who sells at cost be called a merchant? Therefore said R. Hisda: Samuel

    took as a basis for his decision the following verse [Ezek. xlv. 12]: "And the shekel shall be

    twenty gerahs: (in pieces of) twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be

    your maneh." Was, then, a maneh sixty shekels, which makes two hundred and forty zuz?

    Therefore from this verse may be inferred three things: (a) That the maneh of the sanctuary was

    in value twice as much as the common shekel; (b) that it is allowed to increase a sixth, but not

    more; and (c) that the sixth may be added even from outside (e.g., to add ten to fifty, so that the

    sixth may be reckoned after being added, as the maneh of Ezekiel is sixty shekels, while a

    maneh in general contains twenty-five shekels). Note value altered in Ezekiels time to up the 50 shekels to 60 shekels.

  • Leolaia

    Well, as I said, in actual "Babylonian currency" there were 24 gerahs to a shekel and 60 shekels to a mina. This differs from your description of the Hebrew system which has 20 gerahs to a shekel and 50 shekels to a mina. So one point of mine is that the Babylonians did not compute weights according to the system you gave. The other point is that what is given in that table is a simplification of a more complex picture of early Jewish weights. Instead of 50 shekels to a mina, Ezekiel explictly computes 60 shekels to a mina. But there is more than just Ezekiel because actual stone weights have been archaeologically recovered, and so we know that the Jews used a variety of systems, and we know this too from the OT because there were different kinds of shekels, the "royal" shekel (as in 2 Samuel 14:26) and "holy" shekel of a different weight which is referred to by Ezekiel and P. There are also pre-exilic gerah weights that value the gerah at 1/24 of a shekel (as larger gerah weights were in multiples of 2 to 11, and not up to 12, which would be a half shekel and that is covered by the beqa` weight), the same as it is in the Babylonian system. An ostracon from Kadesh Barnea similarly gives the value of beqa` as 12 gerahs and the nsf as 20 gerahs; the nsf is referred to elsewhere as having 20 gerahs and is thus probably the same as the "holy" shekel (if it indeed is not an idealization on the part of Ezekiel and P). The post-exilic reference to a tax being a "third of a shekel" in Nehemiah 10:33 may also attest a shekel weighing 24 gerahs, as 1/3 results in a fraction of a gerah if this shekel weighs only 20 gerahs. Notice how the system in Ezekiel and P is complementary with this: the "holy" shekel weighs 20 gerahs and 60 of them yield a mina, whereas in the other system (e.g. in 1 Samuel 17:6-7 and 2 Samuel 14:26, the shekel totals of 5,000 and 200 are divisible by 50 and not 60) a shekel weighs 24 gerahs and 50 of them yield a mina. Either way the weight of the mina is the same (20 x 60 = 1200, 24 x 50 = 1200).

    In short, the Babylonian system (such as used in the court of the king) was distinct from either Hebrew system (and there were more, such as later in the Hellenistic period), and the number of shekels in a mina and gerahs in a shekel were computed in more than one way by the Jews.

  • Witness 007
    Witness 007

    American dollar has lost it's value so they had some "new light."

  • itsibitsybrainbutbigenoughtosmellarat

    Who is Otto Eisenfelt? No search brings up his name?? Where is your reference for the society using him as the source for half shekel rendering?