The book of Deuteronomy commands that “thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have,” and, moreover, states that anyone who uses dishonest weights to cheat his customers is guilty of an “abomination.” Thanks to a recent discovery, we know more about what such weights looked like. But in this case, as Amanda Borschel-Dan explains, its flaws are likely due to incompetence rather than wickedness:
A uniquely inscribed, 2,700-year-old limestone two-shekel weight recently discovered in earth excavated near the Western Wall in Jerusalem is a “very rare” example—of poor craftsmanship. The weight’s inscription, said the excavation’s co-director Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon, indicates the craftsman was “not familiar with the international symbol” for such stones, and so instead incised “something close enough.”
During the First Temple period, the coin-sized, 23-gram [0.8oz] round stone was part of a precise set of internationally recognized weights and measures imported from Egypt that were used in the Land of Israel for both Temple worship and the marketplace.
The Egyptian weight system was based on units of eight, as opposed to the more known decimal system that appears often in the Bible. . . . During the Iron Age, the Egyptian weight system was used in international commerce, and its implementation in the Land of Israel is an indication that the fledgling monarchy saw itself as an international player.
While hundreds of two-shekel weighing stones have been uncovered in excavations in and near ancient Jerusalem, this example is “very rare,” Monnickendam-Givon [said]. It . . . points to a “very local manufacture,” he said: the craftsman was apparently ignorant of the proper Egyptian symbol generally used to mark these stones.