Wednesday, September 28th, 2011


On July 26, 2011–just two days after the announcement of the golden bell discovery–archaeologists announced the discovery of a 3’ tall Philistine altar in the ancient city of Gath (the city of Goliath).  It has two horns, which is similar to the Israelite altars described in the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 27:1–2; 1 Kings 1:50).  Israel’s altars differed in that they had four horns.  The altar has been dated to the 9th century BC.

Significance:

  1. This is further confirmation of the fact that the authors of Scripture were intimately familiar with the cultures they wrote about, and thus must have lived relatively close in both geographical and temporal proximity to them.

Mk 12:41-44  And Jesus having sat down over-against the treasury, was beholding how the multitude do put brass into the treasury, and many rich were putting in much, 42 and having come, a poor widow did put in two mites (lepta), which are a farthing [kodrantes]. 43 And having called near his disciples, he saith to them, “Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath put in more than all those putting into the treasury; 44 for all, out of their abundance, put in, but she, out of her want, all that she had put in — all her living.” (NLT)

Previously I blogged on a Constantine I coin that was given to me. Now, I’ve been given a mite (also known as a lepton).  A mite was the smallest coin with the smallest monetary worth. It was worth half a quadrans. A quadrans was worth 1/64 of a denarius, which was a day’s wage, so a mite was worth 1/128 of a denarius.  In other words, this is what the average person would make for six minutes worth of work (assuming a 12 hour work day). How much was a mite worth, then? By today’s standards, it would be worth ~$0.56 (assuming a $6 per hour rate for 12 hours). Two mites, then, was little more than a dollar by today’s standards.  It is strange, then, that so many translations render Mk 12:41 as “penny,” “cent,” “less than a penny,” or something similar. The 2011 NIV and CEV are closest when they translate it as a few cents/pennies, but even this is severely undervalued. Whatever it may be worth, here is a picture of my mite:

Front of mite

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