by Geoffrey Grinder, Now The End Begins:
An extremely rare, minuscule biblical stone weight inscribed in ancient Hebrew script with the word ‘bekah’ was discovered in rubble taken from excavations at the foundations of the Western Wall.
As amazing as this latest discovery truly is, and it is, there have been a spate of finds likes these over the past few years. So much so that we had to create a new category for the homepage entitled ‘Biblical Archaeology‘, and I highly suggest you check it out.
“A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.” Exodus 38:26 (KJV)
The discovery of the Bekah stone, a Biblical measure of weight used in the First Temple, is about as incredible a link to the Old Testament as you could hope to find in 2018. I know we walk by faith and ‘not by sight’ in the Church Age, but I love when the Lord gives us these little ‘handfuls of purpose’ that we can see with our eyes. If you love the Bible, this is the Super Bowl of discoveries, that’s how rare it is.
Straight from the Bible: Tiny First Temple bekah stone weight unearthed in Jerusalem
FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL: Only a handful of similar stone beka weights have been unearthed in Jerusalem, said archaeologist Eli Shukron, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He told The Times of Israel that none had previously been found with this exact inscription.
The ‘bekah’ is a First Temple-period weight measure used by pilgrims paying their half-shekel tax before ascending to the Temple Mount, was recently discovered by a volunteer in the City of David’s wet sifting project in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park.
The word ‘bekah’ appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to 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, Verse 26: “A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.”
The bekah stone was discovered in dirt taken from 2013 excavations under Robinson’s Arch. According to Shukron, the earth came from a drainage canal under the foundation of the Western Wall.
This bekah is the only example to date of the inscription being written in “mirror writing,” said Shukron, and the letters are engraved from left to right instead of right to left. For example, the letter “bet” incised into the small stone is facing the opposite direction.
“This is the only one not written ‘properly,’” Shukron said, which leads him to conclude that the artisan who formed the weight also created seals, which are written in mirror script.
“Apparently, the seal craftsman got confused when he engraved the inscription on the weight and mistakenly used mirror script as he was used to doing. From this mistake we can learn about the general rule: the artists who engraved weights during the First Temple period were the same artists who specialized in creating seals,” said Shukron in a press release.
Unlike several hundred years later, during this era, 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.
SHUKRON SAID IN A PRESS RELEASE, “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 BEKAH WEIGHT. THE BEKAH WAS EQUIVALENT TO THE HALF-SHEKEL, WHICH EVERY PERSON FROM THE AGE OF 20 YEARS AND UP WAS REQUIRED TO BRING TO THE TEMPLE.” ACCORDING TO THE RELEASE, THE BIBLICAL SHEKEL WEIGHED 11.33 GRAMS.
The first coins bearing Hebrew script were inscribed with the word “beka” and date from the 5th century BC, according to a 1993 Biblical Archaeology Review article. The beka coin was minted by permission of the Persians, wrote article author Oded Borowski.