A 3000-year-old “BEKA” weight was discovered in the Emek Tzurim sifting project in Jerusalemduring the sifting of archaeological soil from the area next the Western Wall, north of the City of David, an amazing surprising artifact was found: A tiny stone weight engraved with ancient Hebrew letters spelling BEKA, dated to the first Temple period.
On the first Temple period, there were no coins, so the tax of half a shekel per each person from 20 years old, was charged by pieces of silver, weighted (by scales) equivalent to the BEKA stone (the one found: 6 gram).
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 twenty years old and upward, for six hundred three thousand, five hundred and fifty [people].”
Archaeologist Eli Shukron, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, explains that “Beka weights from the First Temple period are rare; however this weight is even rarer, because the inscription on it is written in mirror script and the letters are engraved from left to right instead of right to left. It can therefore be concluded that the artist who engraved the inscription on the weight specialized in engraving seals, since seals were always written in mirror script so that once stamped the inscription would appear in regular legible script. “Apparently, the seal craftsman got confused when he engraved the inscription on the weight and mistakenly used mirror script as he was used to doing. From this mistake we can learn about the general rule: The artists who engraved weights during the First Temple period were the same artists who specialized in creating seals. The Bible, the artifact found close to Solomon’s Temple, north of the City of David, the Temple foundations – everything is connected.”
The artifact will be on display to the general public during Hanukkah in Emek Tzurim National Park.