Mina (unit)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The mina (also mĕnē, Aramaic; Hebrew: ‏מָנֶה)[a] is an ancient Near Eastern unit of weight, which was divided into 60 shekels. The mina, like the shekel, was also a unit of currency.


The word mina comes from the ancient Semitic root m-n-w/m-n-y 'to count',[1] Akkadian manû,[2] Hebrew: מָנָה (mana), Imperial Aramaic: מָנָה/מְנָא (mana/mena),[3] Classical Syriac: ܡܢܳܐ (mena),[4] Ugaritic: 𐎎𐎐, romanized: mn. It is mentioned in the Bible, where Solomon is reported to have made 300 shields, each with 3 "mina" of gold (Hebrew: ‏מָנֶה, romanized: mane),[5] or later after the Edict of Cyrus II of Persia the people are reported to have donated 5000 mina of silver for the reconstruction of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.[6]

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 (shortly before 2000 BCE), the mina had a value of 160 talent as well as 60 shekels. The weight of this mina is calculated at 1.25 pounds (0.57 kg).[7][8]

Writings from Ugarit give the value of a mina as equivalent to fifty shekels.[9] The prophet Ezekiel refers to a mina (maneh in the King James Version) also as 60 shekels, in the Book of Ezekiel 45:12. Jesus of Nazareth tells the "parable of the minas" in Luke 19:11–27, also told as the "parable of the talents" in Matthew 25:14–30. In later Jewish usage, the maneh is equal in weight to 100 denarii.[10]

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

In ancient Greece, the mina was known as the μνᾶ (mnâ). It originally equalled 70 drachmae and later was increased to 100 drachmae.[11] The Greek word mna (μνᾶ) was borrowed from Semitic;[12][13] compare Hebrew māneh, Aramaic mĕnē, Syriac manyā, Ugaritic mn, and Akkadian manū.

The Greek mina[edit]

The Aeginetan mina weighed 623.7 g (22.00 oz).[14]

The Attic mina weighed 436.6 g (15.40 oz).[15]

Since a modern pound weight is 453.592 grams, the Attic mina weighed just under one pound.

Purchasing power[edit]

  • The price for a slave in Plautus' Pseudolus (191 BCE) was 20 minae.[16]
  • 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.


  1. ^ "mina", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  2. ^ "manû", Akkadian Dictionary, Association Assyrophile de France
  3. ^ Jastrow, Marcus (1903), Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature מְנֵי [Mənei], London, W.C.: Luzac & Co. ; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons
  4. ^ "Search Entry" ܡܢܵܐ ['mna], Sureth dictionary, Association Assyrophile de France
  5. ^ 1 Kings 10:17.
  6. ^ Ezra 2:69.
  7. ^ Edwards, Tom. "Bible Weights, Measures, and Monetary Values". SpiritRestoration.org. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2008.. Calculation of weight by number of shekels.
  8. ^ Public Domain Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Money". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  9. ^ Tenney, Merril ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, "Weights and Measures," Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976.
  10. ^ Maimonides (1974). Sefer Mishneh Torah - HaYad Ha-Chazakah (Maimonides' Code of Jewish Law) (in Hebrew). Vol. 4 (Seder Avodah). Jerusalem: Pe'er HaTorah., s.v. Hil. Kelei HaMikdash 2:3
  11. ^ Aristotle (unknown date). Constitution of the Athenians, 10.2.
  12. ^ Jastrow, Marcus (1903). Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature. London, W.C.: Luzac & Co. ; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  13. ^ Henry George Liddell; Robert Scott (1940). A Greek–English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  14. ^ Oleson (1998), p. 764
  15. ^ Oleson (1998), p. 764
  16. ^ Perseus Project Ps.1.3.


  • Oleson, John Peter (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199734856.