Three of the most common weights used in the Bible were the half shekel (or bekah), the shekel, and talent, the largest standard. Around 600 to 550 BC, the kingdom of Lydia (western Turkey) minted the first known coins in the Mediterranean; they were made of an alloy of gold and silver, shaped like a disc and stamped with images. The use of coins, which proved convenient to compensate for military and civic services, spread rapidly across the Aegean and then throughout the Persian Empire after the annexation of Lydia in 546 BC. The images on the coins also illustrate the conflict between the Jews and Rome, and show that they could be used to support subjugation or resistance.
After the first Jewish revolt, the Romans minted Judea capta (“captured Judea”) coins depicting Jewish captives next to a palm tree, representing Judea. However, during the first and second Jewish revolts, Jewish rebels minted their own coins calling for the freedom of Zion and, in the case of the Second Jewish Revolt, represented the temple that the Romans destroyed. When it comes to coins, who minted them and what political messages were they trying to communicate? The first clear evidence of coins being used in exchange for goods and services dates from the 6th century BC. The temple incident described in the canonical Gospels is one of the most certain details of Jesus' life, but scholars debate what that action meant.
Trade around the temple of Jerusalem in Jesus' time increased during Jewish holidays that required pilgrimages and contributions. Helen Bond talks about Jesus' action against temple moneychangers: “When we arrived at the lodge, we opened our bags and there was everyone's money on top of their bag, our money in full. So we brought it.” The Bible mentions several coins that have proven to be very popular with coin collectors. It also warns that pursuing money can cause problems in faith and other areas of life.
A false scale is an abomination to the Lord, but a precise weight is his delight. The use of money in biblical times was not only limited to coins; other weights were also used as currency. It is rarely mentioned in Scripture but it is clear that it was an important part of life during this period. The coins minted by different empires had different political messages associated with them; some were used to support subjugation while others were used to call for freedom.
The Bible also warns us about pursuing money too much as it can lead to problems in faith and other areas of life. Money is not evil but it can be a root of all kinds of ills if we are not careful with how we use it. We should remember that although money can provide us with temporary pleasure, it cannot compare to what we can find through repentance and faith in Christ.