Click here re Zechariah's curse over these abusive systems, portrayed as a woman (wickedness) flown by two other women into Shinar — land of the two rivers.
Click here for a historic account of Croesus, King of Lydia, brother of Cyrus's maternal grandmother Aryenis through her daughter Mandane. Croesus is credited with issuing the first coins. He is reputed to have become a counsellor of Cyrus, taken by him into Babylon (in Shinar) where Croesus's brother-in-law Astyages was then reigning.
Click here for further background.
Now some years later at the time of this prophecy by Zechariah, Cyrus's daughter Atossa, a lady reputed to be of great noble influence, marries Darius, a member of Cyrus's court. He becomes king and establishes a universal coinage. Gold daric coins each containing 8.4 grams of gold, replace the 16.8 gram shekel bars of Babylon, and are worth 20 siglos coins, each containing 5.6 grams (⅓ of a shekel) of silver, replacing their silver shekel bars.
It contrasted considerably with an earlier operation in China (1023-1450), inconvertible except into more of the same paper.
The wars in Europe and particularly the US's civil war in 1860 led to a growing reliance on paper money everywhere, based on a government's "stability", and was a major factor in the worldwide collapse in the value of silver. In 1870, due to a perceived oversupply in the marketplace, the price of silver bullion halved in relation to gold. In 1873 that US bimetallic standard was dropped, and the dollar note was simply valued at $US20.67 per troy ounce of gold. Everywhere people hoarded gold coins, bullion, certificates "for their retirement", or to trade with overseas.
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt demonetized gold coins domestically, ordering that all holdings of gold certificates, and bullion and coins in excess of 160 grams per individual had to be deposited with the US Federal Reserve at Fort Knox, accepting US dollar banknotes (like deposit slips) in their place. Only rare and unusual coin collections were exempt, along with special needs businesses e.g. dentists, artists, jewellers. Subsequently the US government devalued the US dollar internationally to 0.888 grams of gold, or $US35 per troy ounce. It resulted in the Federal Reserve becoming the world's largest central bank or "bankers' bank" as it now held greater stocks of gold than any other country. During World War 2, Fort Knox's vaults stored in excess of 20,000 tons.
Then as gold stocks at Fort Knox diminished after the war, in 1971 the US Government stepped in to prevent it from "emptying", taking the dollar off the gold standard, thus causing it to freely float on currency markets. In 1974 the 160 grams limit on gold holdings by private individuals in the US was revoked. Today, Fort Knox holds just 4,500 tons.
Money is sometimes called riches — chrema (like cream, what's on top physically) and unrighteous mammon — mammonas (earthly material wealth/capital reserves). See Luke 16: "You cannot serve God and mammon." And in Revelation 18, associated again with Babylon (at that time) the great city of Rome. "For your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery (drug). And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth." Yes, this goes right back to Cain, slayer of Abel, builder of the first human city i.e. "guarded place", which he dedicated to his son Enoch.
"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14 For more thoughts click here re Peter and the church.
About the talent (one man load) — In Israel, a talent of silver provided about a lifetime's worth of common labour:
The talent in Hebrew measurement is about 60kgs (3,000 shekels (weights) at 20 grains/grams per shekel — see Exodus 38:25-26 — 600,000 men x ½ shekel each = 100 talents). Noting too that due to inflation a grain today is 1/15th of a gram, but back then (in Hebrew measurement) the two words were closely related. Now in Jesus's parable about the householder and the labourers, they agreed on pay at one denarius for a day's work in a vineyard, in today's economy perhaps $100, and a denarius coin back then contained about 4 grams of silver. So, at $25.00 per gram, the value of a whole talent in today's money could be seen as say, 60,000 grams * $25.00 = $1½ million, a fair sum.
In Matthew 18:24 — the lord forgave one person 10,000 talents — or just over $15 billion.
In Matthew 25:14 — A man going to a far country (i.e. once again, the Lord), gave one servant 5 talents ($7½ million), one servant 2 talents ($3 million), one servant 1 talent ($1½ million), basing it on their capacity to handle that load.
About the mina (scale) that weighed one kilogram-kg in Babylon, one litra in Greece, one libra-lb in Rome — and in Israel, a mina of silver provided about 40 weeks worth of common labour:
In Luke 19:13 — And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten mina, and said to them, "Occupy i.e. trade till I come". Now in Israel 60 mina (of approx 1 kg weight) made up one talent. While at the time of the Exodus a mina of silver weighed 50 shekels (with 20 grains/grams per shekel), at the time of Ezekiel a mina (or maneh) equalled 60 shekels — Babylon's influence now meant a lower shekel weight measurement. Each shekel was 20 grains but 16.8 grams in weight (see
In some Arab places, and Persia (or Iran), this 4 gram silver drachma (or dram) became known as the dirham. Later in Iran it became the riyal, a "royal" or "real" silver coin that was based on the Portuguese and Spanish trading term — the reale issued in 1350.
In other places, a Roman coin of similar weight known as the silver denarius became known as the dinar. It was initially worth ten copper assarion (or "aces").
Click here for some background on how this silver denarius or (d) became the silver penny in England around the year 790, with 12 denarii originally the value of a gold solidus coin or (s), now called a shilling amount, and 240 pennies being equal to a pound of silver — lb or £ from the Latin word Libra i.e. £sd. This pound which we now call the Tower pound — from the Tower of London where the scales were kept — weighed 350 grams and though each penny contained just 1½ grams of silver, it was still an improvement on the sceattas they replaced which had 1.3 grams (or less) of silver.
About the denarius (Silver Roman coin) — a day's worth of common labour:
Matthew 22:19 Jesus said, "Show me the assessment (according to law)". And they brought him a denarius.
Matthew 20:2 He agreed with each labourer, one denarius a day (a day's unskilled wages, say, $100).
Matthew 18:28 After he had been forgiven those 10,000 talents ($15 billion), that man saw a servant who owed him 100 denarii (i.e. about $10,000).
Luke 7:41 There are two debtors, one forgiven 500 denarii ($50,000), the other 50 ($5,000). Who cherishes the creditor more?
Luke 10:35 The next day, the Samaritan took out 2 denarii and gave them to the host ($200).
Revelation 6:6 "One dry *measure of wheat for a denarius $100, three dry measures of barley for a denarius $100, don't damage the oil or the wine" — hmm, sounds like a trading floor. * one choenix — slightly over 1 litre — a day's rations
About the drachm (Silver Greek coin — value approximately equivalent to a denarius): Note though, that as the level of silver in the Roman denarius was debased to about 80% purity, only the tetradrachm (Tyrian shekel) and didrachm coins minted at Tyre (at least 94% purity) were acceptable in temple offerings. And as the level of commission was frequently excessive, allowing many money-changers to become rich, no wonder Jesus brought out the whip.
Luke 15:8 "If a woman having ten drachma ($1000), loses one ($100), will she not light the house, sweep and search, and when she finds it, call all her friends and neighbours so they can rejoice with her".
Matthew 17:24 Peter was asked "Doesn't your master pay the two drachma ($200)?" This equalled half a shekel and was due to the temple annually for its upkeep, see
About the assarion/assarius (Copper coin. Sometimes abbreviated as the word “as” from which we get the English word “ace”. Initially valued at one-tenth of a denarius, by the time of Christ it was valued at one-sixteenth or even less when coined in the provinces):
Matthew 10:29 says 2 sparrows are sold for an assarion i.e. about $5.
Luke 12:6 says 5 sparrows are sold for 2 assarion. And your Father is aware of everyone that falls to the ground. Therefore, don't be frightened. You are of more value than many sparrows.
About the farthing and the mite (Copper coins. Value one-quarter and one-eighth assarion respectively):
Luke 12:56 To the Pharisees: "You hypocrites. Can't you discern the signs of the times? Why don't you decide what is right?" In Matthew 5:24: "Get reconciled with your brother, if he has something against you." - "When your adversary — on some issue of "rights" — is taking you to the chief authority, while you're still on the road together, do what you have to do to get out of the situation, get yourselves agreed, lest you are dragged down to the judge, who gives you up to the "debt collection" officer, who throws you down into the "cage" (i.e. the prison). I tell you, you will not get out of there till you have paid the last mite. (in Matthew 5:26 — farthing) i.e. your last dollar.
To sum up:
Luke 16:9-10 (Jerusalem version) And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
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