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A small stone weight which was once used to measure the half-shekel temple tax during the First Temple period has been unearthed in Jerusalem. The weight was found at the City of David's wet-sifting project in the Emek Tzurim National Park amidst the rubble taken from the 2013 excavations under Robinson's Arch. Exodus 38:26 mentions the "beka" in regard to the weight of silver brought by the Israelites for the maintenance of the temple: "A beka a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men." Archaeologist Eli Shukron explained, "When the half-shekel tax was brought to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple." This particular stone weight is extremely rare, as it is the only one yet discovered that has the word "beka" inscribed in ancient Hebrew script in reverse. Scholars hypothesize that it was inscribed by someone who was used to making seals, which are also inscribed in reverse. The fact that the "beka" was discovered in dirt taken from next to the foundations of the Temple Mount confirms what is known biblically and historically about payments at the Jewish Temple.

Off-site Links:
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/straight-from-the-bible-tiny-first-temple-stone-weight-unearthed-in-jerusalem/
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Half-shekel-from-First-Temple-era-unearthed-near-City-of-David-572423
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/MAGAZINE-second-first-temple-weight-this-one-with-mirror-writing-found-in-jerusalem-sifting-1.6676037

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ABRT 28 | 8/1/2019