Mina (unit)

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The mina (also mĕnē, Aramaic; Hebrew: מנה‬)[1] is an ancient Near Eastern unit of weight, which was divided into 50 shekels. The mina, like the shekel, was also a unit of currency. In ancient Greece, it originally equalled 70 drachmae and later was increased to 100 drachmae.[2] The Greek word mna (μνᾶ) was borrowed from Semitic; compare Hebrew māneh, Aramaic mĕnē, Syriac manyā, Ugaritic mn, and Akkadian manū. However, before it was used as currency, a mina was a unit of measurement, equal to 1.25 pounds.

From earliest Sumerian times, a mina was a unit of weight. At first, talents and shekels had not yet been introduced. By the time of Ur-Nammu, the mina had a value of 1/60 talents as well as 60 shekels. The value of the mina is calculated at 1.25 pounds[3][4] or 0.571 kilograms per mina (18.358 troy ounces).

Evidence from Ugarit indicates that a mina was equivalent to fifty shekels.[5] The prophet Ezekiel refers to a mina ('maneh' in the King James Version) as sixty shekels, in the Book of Ezekiel.[6] Jesus of Nazareth tells the "parable of the minas" in Luke 19:11-27.

From the Akkadian period, 2 mina was equal to 1 sila of water (cf. clepsydra, water clock).

Purchasing power[edit]

  • The price for a slave in Plautus' Pseudolus was 20 minæ; one mina being, according to the commentator, "about $18.05 is USD, or £3 14s. 4d."[7]
  • In the first century AD [in Greece?], it amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker.[citation needed]



  1. ^ In the Hebrew tradition, a maneh had always the weight of 100 silver denarii.
  2. ^ Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 10.2
  3. ^ [1] Calculation of weight by number of shekels.
  4. ^ [2] Jewish Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Tenney, Merril ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, "Weights and Measures," Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976.
  6. ^ Ezekiel 45:12
  7. ^ http://data.perseus.org/citations/urn:cts:latinLit:phi0119.phi016.perseus-eng1:1.3