A Rare First Temple-Era Weight Discovered Near the Temple Mount

Nov. 26 2018

A volunteer sifting ancient debris from the vicinity of the Temple Mount uncovered a small stone with the word beka—a measurement of weight equal to a half-shekel—inscribed on it in Hebrew. In First Temple times, such stones were used in scales to weigh precious metals. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The beka [was] used by pilgrims paying their half-shekel tax before ascending to the Temple Mount. . . . The word beka appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to the matriarch Rebecca in the book of Genesis, and later in the book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census, as recorded in Exodus 38:26. . . .

The beka stone was discovered in dirt taken from 2013 excavations under Robinson’s Arch. According to Eli Shukron, [the director of the excavation], the earth came from a drainage canal under the foundation of the Western Wall.

During this era, unlike several hundred years later, there was no half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was unearthed.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, First Temple, History & Ideas

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy