Archaeologists Discover Evidence of Fraud in Biblical Israel

September 9, 2021 | Aryeh Savir
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The Torah states on four occasions that the shekel, a standard weight or coin of silver, is equivalent to twenty gerah, the latter being a smaller measurement. Elsewhere, in the book Deuteronomy, it states, “Thou shalt not have in thy bag diverse weights, a great and a small,” that could be used for deceiving customers. A recent discovery brings together these two edicts, as Aryeh Savir writes:

Israeli archaeologists digging in the City of David in Jerusalem’s Old City came upon an extremely rare finding from the days of the First Temple—a biblical weight called a gerah that was probably used by a cheater [who lived around] 589 BCE.

The weight is made of reddish limestone, smoothed and well-polished, and on its upper part appear two deeply engraved straight, parallel and thick lines, indicating a weight of two gerah, or 0.944 grams. However, when weighed, the researchers were surprised to find that it weighed 3.61 grams—more than three times its expected weight.

Only one other gerah weight was discovered in Israel.

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