What Is a Shekel?

10 agorot coin, 1985, obverse, menorah (seven-branched candelabrum)
10 agorot coin (shekel). Getty Images / De Agostini / A. Dagli Orti

The shekel is an ancient biblical unit of measurement. It was the most common standard used among the Hebrew people for both weight and value. The term meant simply "weight." In New Testament times, a shekel was a silver coin weighing, well, one shekel (about .4 ounces or 11 grams).

Pictured here is a gold shekel coin dating back to 310-290 BC. Three thousand of these shekels equaled one talent, the heaviest and largest unit of measurement for weight and value in Scripture.

So, if a shekel was worth its weight in gold, what was a talent worth, and how much did it weigh? Learn the meaning, current-day equivalent, weight and value of several weights and measures found in the Bible.

Example of the Shekel in the Bible

Ezekiel 45:12 The shekel shall be twenty gerah; twenty shekels plus twenty-five shekels plus fifteen shekels shall be your mina. (ESV)