Conversions

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.

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