In my ongoing effort to do anything but actually read my Bible, I notice in Leviticus 27 that the established temple price of an homer of barley is 50 shekels of silver. And it really frustrates me when they do this: translate every word in the bible except the weights and measures. Unless the number 50 is symbolic, I need to know some modern terminology to have any idea what they’re talking about.
So I did some research. An homer is 59 gallons, 6.34 bushels for grain, or 1.87 barrels. A shekel is .4 ounces. So the going rate for 6.34 bushels of barley at the time of Moses was 20 oz. silver. An ounce of silver today is worth $19.04. So roughly $400 for an homer of barley.
And for the record, $400 for 6.34 bushels of barley is a little high in today’s prices. The wholesale price of barley is currently $174.82 for a metric ton. That is to say $3.81 a bushel. So an homer of barley today costs $24.13 – slightly less than $400.
This is to say that, in Moses’ time, either silver was much more plentiful than is now, or we have a lot more barley to go around than the Egyptians ever dreamed of.