Zechariah 5:1-11 is Zechariah's vision of the curse over these abusive systems, and a vision portrayed as a woman (wickedness) flown by two other women into Shinar — land of the two rivers.
Click here for a historic account of Croesus, King of Lydia, brother of Cyrus's maternal grandmother Aryenis through her daughter Mandane. Croesus is credited with issuing the first coins. He is reputed to have become a counsellor of Cyrus, taken by him into Babylon (in Shinar) where Croesus's brother-in-law Astyages was then reigning.
Click here for further background, commencing with the reign of Cyrus in 453 BC.
Now some years later at the time of this prophecy by Zechariah, Cyrus's daughter Atossa, a lady reputed to be of great noble influence, marries Darius, a member of Cyrus's court. He becomes king and establishes a universal coinage. Gold daric coins each containing 8 grams of gold, replace the 16.8 gram shekel bars of Babylon, and are worth 20 silver siglos coins, each containing 5.6 grams (⅓ of a shekel, seven-tenths of a daric), replacing their silver shekel bars. A value ratio, gold to silver, of 14 to one.
In Rome, the silver den-arius initially equalled 10 assarion (where an assarion was equal to one 12 ounce pound of bronze).
It contrasted considerably with an earlier operation in China (1023-1450), inconvertible except into more of the same paper.
The wars in Europe and particularly the US's civil war in 1860 led to a growing reliance on paper money, and was a major factor in the worldwide collapse in the value of silver. Between 1873 and 1900, due to a perceived oversupply in the marketplace, the price of silver bullion halved in the US. During that period the US bimetallic standard was dropped, and the dollar coin was minted at 1.505 grams of fine gold or $20.67 per troy ounce. It was fixed at 4s.2d sterling (in England) or 5 francs (in France). Everywhere people hoarded gold coins, bullion, certificates "for their retirement", or to trade with overseas.
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt demonetized gold coins domestically, ordering that all holdings of gold certificates, and bullion and coins in excess of 160 grams per individual had to be deposited with the US Federal Reserve at Fort Knox, accepting US dollar banknotes (like deposit slips) in their place. Only rare and unusual coin collections were exempt, along with special needs businesses e.g. dentists, artists, jewellers. Subsequently the US government devalued the US dollar internationally to 0.888 grams of gold, or $US35 per troy ounce. It resulted in the Federal Reserve becoming the world's largest central bank or "bankers' bank" as it now held greater stocks of gold than any other country. During World War 2, Fort Knox's vaults stored in excess of 20,000 tons.
Then as gold stocks at Fort Knox diminished after the war, in 1971 the US Government stepped in to prevent it from "emptying", taking the dollar off the gold standard, thus causing it to freely float on currency markets. In 1974 the 160 grams limit on gold holdings by private individuals in the US was revoked. Today, Fort Knox holds just 4,500 tons.
Money is sometimes called riches — chrema (like cream, what's on top physically) and unrighteous mammon — mammonas (earthly material wealth/capital reserves). See Luke 16:13 "You cannot serve God and mammon." And in Revelation 18:23, associated again with Babylon (at that time) the great city of Rome. "For your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery (drug). And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth." Yes, this goes right back to
Hebrews 13:14 "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."
Click here for more thoughts re Peter and the church.
About the talent (one man load) — with a life being measured by the level of its lift (gift), i.e. its leverage:
In New Testament times the Hebrew talent weighed just under 60 kilograms, corresponding to Moses's law: 3,000 shekels at 20 gerahs (obols, scratchings, grammas—grams) per shekel, see
In Jesus's parable about the householder and the labourers, they agreed on pay at one denarius for a day's work in a vineyard, in today's economy perhaps $100, and a denarius coin back then contained about 4 grams of silver. So, at $25.00 per gram, the value of a Hebrew talent in today's money could be seen as just under 60,000 grams * $25.00 = $1½ million, a fair sum.
In Matthew 18:24 — the lord forgave one person 10,000 talents — or just under $15 billion.
In Matthew 25:14 — A man going to a far country (i.e. once again, the Lord), gave one servant 5 talents (just under $7½ million), one servant 2 talents ($3 million), one servant 1 talent ($1½ million), basing it on their capacity to handle that load.
About the minas or mĕnēs ("counting") found in words like moons, mines, mints, minds, metres, measures, mental (as anything) .
In Luke 19:13 — And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten mina, and said to them, "Occupy i.e. trade till I come".
In 465BC Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin: On that night Darius the Mede, the new king was 62 years in age — 60 units (measuring, measured) + 1 unit (weighed) + two half units (parted to the Medes and Parsis) = 62.
In Israel, the holy mina (or maneh) of about one kilogram equalled 60 shekels with 20 obols now weighing about 16.8 grams (see Ezekiel 45:12). See too Solomon's earlier, lighter, three hundred x 10 gram "weights" that he had used with his 3 kg gold shields (
Over in Athens, Solon devalued their Greek drachma coin from 70 drachma per mina with a drachma weighing perhaps about 8 grams to 100 drachma per mina till it contained about 4.32 grams using a lighter Greek litra, or a Roman libra that weighed about 432 grams. Thus at the time of Christ in the temple, one Hebrew shekel (or stater) of 16.8 grams was equal to four drachma, and one Hebrew mina was equal to 240 drachma (or $24,000).
After the fall of Rome (in 486 AD) the Roman denarius, using this reduced weight of 4.2 grams, became the gold "dinar" throughout Europe and northern Africa, the Middle East, and Persia (Iran). It is a currency name that persists in many of these places today. The drachma (or dram) became known as the silver "dirham". After 1798 in Iran it became known as the "rial", a name that was based on a Portuguese and Spanish trading coin — their "reale" first issued in 1350.
Click here for a timeline on monetary inflation, some background on how the denarius or (d) became the silver penny in England around the year 790, with 12 silver denarii originally the value of a gold solidus coin or (s), later called a shilling amount, and 240 pennies being equal to a pound of silver — lb or £ from the Latin word Libra i.e. £sd. This pound which we now call the Tower pound — from the
Groat and Groschen — About 1280, a fourpenny bit was issued in England using 5.1 grams of fine silver. Called a groat, it corresponded to the "groschen" a thick silver coin issued in Prague in Bohemia – today's Czech Republic, also in Tirol in Northern Italy, and elsewhere. By 1559, the level of silver in England's groat had dropped to 2.1 grams. It continued to be issued until 1856. Meanwhile, the Groschen in Bohemia was discontinued in 1547 after their release of the Joachimsthaler, the basis of the Dollar.
Back to Jesus's time.
About the denarius (as a Silver Roman coin) — a day's worth of common labour:
Matthew 22:19 Jesus said, "Show me the assessment (according to law)". And they brought him a denarius.
Matthew 20:2 He agreed with each labourer, one denarius a day (a day's unskilled wages, say, $100).
Matthew 18:28 After he had been forgiven those 10,000 talents ($15 billion), that man saw a servant who owed him 100 denarii (i.e. about $10,000).
Luke 7:41 There are two debtors, one forgiven 500 denarii ($50,000), the other 50 ($5,000). Who cherishes the creditor more?
Luke 10:35 The next day, the Samaritan took out 2 denarii and gave them to the host ($200).
Mark 6:37, John 6:7 Feeding the 5000. "You give them to eat." "Shall we buy 200 denarii of food?" — "it will not be sufficient" ($20,000).
Revelation 6:6 "One dry *measure of wheat for a denarius $100, three dry measures of barley for a denarius $100, don't damage the oil or the wine" — hmm, sounds like a trading floor. * one choenix — slightly over 1 litre — a day's rations
Mark 14:5, John 12:5 At Simon's house in Bethany, "This ointment might have been sold for more than 300 denarii" ($30,000)
yes, that's expensive perfume
About the drachm (Silver Greek coin — value approximately equivalent to a denarius): Note though, that as the level of silver in the Roman denarius was debased to about 80% purity, only the tetradrachm (Tyrian shekel) and didrachm coins minted at Tyre (at least 94% purity) were acceptable in temple offerings. History records that after the mint at Tyre closed in 19 BC, the Jews received permission from the Romans to mint identical coins, with their mint thought to have been close to, or even at the Temple itself. And as the level of commission was frequently excessive, allowing many money-changers to become rich, no wonder Jesus brought out the whip.
Luke 15:8 "If a woman having ten drachma ($1000), loses one ($100), will she not light the house, sweep and search, and when she finds it, call all her friends and neighbours so they can rejoice with her".
Matthew 17:24 Peter was asked "Doesn't your master pay the two drachma ($200)?" This equalled half a shekel and was due to the temple annually for its upkeep, see
About the assarion (Copper coin abbreviation "as" from which we get the word "ace"). Initially a heavy brass ingot valued at one-tenth of a denarius, by the time of Christ it was a copper coin that weighed less than half an ounce, circa 10 grams:
Matthew 10:29 says 2 sparrows are sold for an assarion i.e. about $5.
Luke 12:6 says 5 sparrows are sold for 2 assarion. And your Father is aware of everyone that falls to the ground. Therefore, don't be frightened. You are of more value than many sparrows.
About the farthing and the mite (Copper coins). Value one-quarter and one-eighth assarion respectively:
Luke 12:56 To the Pharisees: "You hypocrites. Can't you discern the signs of the times? Why don't you decide what is right?" In Matthew 5:24 "Get reconciled with your brother, if he has something against you." "When your adversary — on some issue of "rights" — is taking you to the chief authority, while you're still on the road together, do what you have to do to get out of the situation, get yourselves agreed, lest you are dragged down to the judge, who gives you up to the "debt collection" officer, who throws you down into the "cage" (i.e. the prison). I tell you, you will not get out of there till you have paid the last mite. (in Matthew 5:26 — farthing) i.e. your last dollar.
Mark 12:42, Luke 21:2 The widow threw in 2 mites or 1 farthing i.e. about a dollar. More than any of the wealthy — she threw into the treasure-house all of her life.
To sum up:
Luke 16:9-10 (Jerusalem version) And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
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