Old Testament Coinage

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Old Testament Coinage is cited in the Bible, and it is helpful to know what the coins were, their weight, and their value.

Before the invention of coinage, precious metals were used as part of a barter system. Money became popular during the seventh century B.C., but it never completely replaced the old system. From early times, gold, silver, and copper had been popular exchange items. Gradually, a system of standardization developed. The metals were weighed out and quality checked. Some of the names of metal weights became the names of coins, which at first were roughly circular and impressed with a seal. Their weight seldom exceeded that of the silver or gold shekel. [1]
After heating and melting the metal, the coiner would then hammer the metal into a small flat planchet of metal. It was then heated again to almost red hot so that it could receive an impression from the bronze dies which would create the design on the coin. A heavy mallet was used by the coiner to strike the images from the dies onto the metal disc. This crude method of striking coins guaranteed that no two were alike (ChristCoins.com).

Under the Law of Moses, Israelites avoided making graven images of God's creations, especially people and animals. Therefore, those kinds of images were absent from their coinage.

Silver Coins

1 gerah
20 gerahs = 1 shekel
3,000 shekels = one talent

Gold Coins

1 gerah
20 gerahs = 1 shekel
3,000 shekels = 1 talent

A talent of gold was just over 1/2 the size of a talent of silver, but a talent of gold had the same weight as a talent of silver. [2]

The Widow's Mite

Widows Mite

The Widow's Mite was hand cast and minted under the authority of the Kings of Judea between 130 and 37 B.C. The mite was the smallest bronze coin in use at the time. Although most of the coins were struck 100 B.C., they were still being used in temples throughout Jerusalem as offerings during the lifetime of Christ. They were thin and crudely struck and most of them are severely off center. There is an anchor on one side and a star or image of a wheel on the reverse. [1]


  1. Old Testament Student Manual:Genesis–2 Samuel, LDS Institute of Religion.
  2. Ibid.