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Holman Bible Dictionary

Balances

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were used to measure weights early in the development of civilization. Balances were well known to the Hebrews and in common use in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:36 ; Job 6:2 ; Hosea 12:7 ). They consisted of two pans hung on cords attached to a balancing beam. The beam was suspended by a cord in its center. Sometimes the beam was suspended by a ring or hook. Sometimes balances were held in the hand. The Hebrews probably used the common balances of Egypt, which are shown in Egyptian tomb reliefs and papyri writings.

Balances were the basis of economic life. Money came in weighted units of gold and silver. These had to be weighed in the balance for every business transaction or purchase (Jeremiah 32:9-10 ). Balances could be easily manipulated, especially by having weights which did not measure up to the proper amount or by having two sets of weights, one for buying and one for selling. God called on Israel for economic justice that began with proper weights and balances. (See Proverbs 11:1 ; Proverbs 16:11 ; Proverbs 20:23 ; Ezekiel 45:9-12 ; Hosea 12:7 ; Amos 8:5 ; Micah 6:10-11 .) In a figurative sense the balance was employed in the Bible to ask for a fair trial or judgment for the persecuted (Job 31:6 ; Psalm 62:9 ).

Balances help teach about God. Only He can weigh the mountains in a balance (Isaiah 40:12-13 ). Just balances show a person belongs to Him (Proverbs 16:11 ), while foolish people weigh out lavish amounts of gold to make idols to worship (Isaiah 46:6 ).

Jimmy Albright


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Balances'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/b/balances.html. 1991.

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