“All your valuations are to be according to the sanctuary shekel [two-fifths of an ounce], twenty gerahs to the shekel.”-Leviticus 27:25
Verse 25 is an interesting footnote that just kind of sticks out like a sore thumb when reading through Leviticus chapter 27.
We’re told that the standard for paying the redemption money will be the Sanctuary Shekel.
There is a double meaning to this verse.
First, the content of the shekel coin is to be pure silver.
Second, the specific weight of the coin is to be exactly 20 GERAHS.
During this era, there was no such thing as a central treasury that was responsible for minting all the coins and printing all the money the people would use.
In those days, anybody, including your average Joe, could mint their own coins and determine the weight and content of the coins they minted.
The first coins were actually just ugly blobs of silver.
While the metal was still steaming hot and soft, a signet ring would be impressed upon it.
The impression of the signet ring would serve to identify the coin’s owner.
In time, things developed to the point where most kings and rulers made their own coins to be used in their kingdoms.
Hence, the biggest difference between the coins then and coins now is that the metal content of the coins we use today has nothing to do with the coin’s true value.
In ancient times, coins were simply pre-determined amounts of silver and gold.
For instance 5-shekel coin weighed in at 5 shekels’ worth of silver and a 10-shekel coin weighed in at 10 shekels’ worth of silver and so on.
So what we’re being told here in Leviticus 27 is that one shekel is to be 20 gerahs of silver.
A gerah “גרה” is a measurement of weight equal to about 11.36 grams or one-twentieth of a shekel.
In those days, since everybody was minting their own coins, they could determine on their own the weight content of the silver.
Hence, when an Israelite went to the Tabernacle to pay the redemption price of a vow, all of the silver nuggets (coins) he brought had to be weighed by the priest who would then calculate how much the person had to pay based on the Torah standard of 20 gerahs.
When we fast forward many years later to the 1st Temple period during the reign of King Solomon, the priests began minting their own coins.
And by the late 2nd Temple period in Yeshua’s day, the entire priest and Temple institution had become totally corrupt.
In Yeshua’s day, if somebody wanted to redeem themselves of a vow or pay for a sacrificial animal, they had to use the coins minted by the temple.
Jews would travel from every region of the Roman Empire with their perfectly valid coins minted in their hometowns and were forced to exchange them for temple-minted coins.
The reason Yeshua went ballistic on the money changers was because the money changer merchants would buy the coins from the Jewish pilgrims at a low price and exchange them for Temple coins at a price much higher than the value.
And not only that, a commission was also charged with the proceeds going to the Temple.
Hence, we can see that even the High Priest was involved in this nasty business.
Just so he could make some profit for himself as well.
Human nature has changed much since then, has it?
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Yeshua entered the Temple grounds
and drove out those who were doing business there,
both the merchants and their customers.
He upset the desks of the money-changers and
knocked over the benches of those who were selling pigeons.
He said to them, “It has been written,
‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’
But you are making it into a den of robbers!”