A 3,000 year old stone weight called a 'beka' – mentioned in the Bible and dating from the time of King Solomon's Temple – has recently been discovered from the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The tiny round stone was used as a half-shekel weight to calculate the visitor's tax for pilgrims coming to the Temple around 1000 BC. It was discovered by a volunteer in the City of David’s sifting project in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park, which carefully attempts to examine every bit of dirt and rubble excavated around the Mount's base.
The word “beka” appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to matriarch Rebecca in the Book of Genesis, and later in the Book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census, as recorded in Exodus 38, Verse 26: “One beka per head; [that is,] half a shekel, according to the holy shekel, for each one who goes through the counting, from 20 years old and upward, for 603,550 [people].”Curiously, the Hebrew letter bet is inscribed in reverse from its usual appearance, leading archeologists to believe it was pressed into wet clay from a seal that had not been created in a proper mirror image.
During this era, there was no half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was unearthed.Archaeologist Eli Shukron directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He told The Times of Israel that no other similar weights had previously been found with this exact inscription.
Shukron said in a press release, “When the half-shekel tax was brought to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple.”The entire article can be read HERE.