Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Enigma of the Biblical Bath and Volume Measurement during the First Temple


Biblical Bath – Judahite Storage-Jar

During the First Temple era, there was no prearranged or fixed method of liquid volume measurements prevailing in Judah. The biblical bath that had been assumed to be the basic measurement of the system had not been a measurement at all but a popular vessel, the Judahite storage-jar which was also called the lmlk jar. The other two vessels were the nebel and the kad which were used for other purpose.

The log, hin and the issaron, termed as `measurements’ were considered as part of the system of liquid volume measurements and were really vessels which were part of the official Temple cult all through the Second Temple era and were not part of the First Temple administration and economy.

The source of the presumed Judahite First Temple era liquid volume measurement system was the bath, comprising of six  or 72 log which also includes the issaron and classified as one-tenth of a bath, as a liquid volume measurement. Three foremost sources had been utilised for reconstructing this liquid volume measurement system – the biblical text, various vessels exposed during archaeological excavations and the epigraphic finds.

Biblical References Testify Fixed Measurements of Liquid Volume

Out of these three sources, the biblical text is said to be the most important for First Temple reality where several of the scholars had presumed that biblical references tends to testify fixed measurements of liquid volume. On close examination of the text it was disclosed that what the scholars had termed as measurements was in reality, vessels that were part of the official cult of the Temple most of which were utilised during the Second Temple age.

The term `log’ has been cited five times in the Bible, all of which is in the same chapter in Leviticus – 14:10, 12, 15, 21 and 24. The `log’ is not a measurement but an oil vessel which can be lifted for waving in the Temple cult or is used for pouring, Leviticus 15 is dated to the post-exilic age with no evidence of using the log within the administration or economy at the time of the First of the Second Temple age.

The word hin is mentioned in the Bible 22 times and in all cases it is linked with the Temple cult. Just like the `log’, the hin also was not a liquid volume measurement during that period but a vessel.

`Hin’ – Egyptian Loanword for Vessel for Oil/Wine

The name of the vessel, hin could be an Egyptian loanword for a vessel for oil or wine which was utilised for the purpose of the cult. Moreover, the hin does not occur in the Deutronomistic history or in epigraphic sources and hence there is no indication of its use in the administration or the economy of the First or the Second Temple periods.

In addition, there is no mention for understanding the hin as a sixth of a bath on the foundation of the references in Ezekiel mostly since one can only learn from the texts that the hin had been well-known containing vessels for the use of cult, for offering and for creating ointments.

You could also utilise a half hin, or a third hin or a quarter hin. Based on the fact that there is no confirmation of the use of the hin in the administration or economy it could be guessed that it could be a special, possibly a small and open vessel with restricted use in the cult of the Temple.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.