The law in OT times demanded honest weights and measures (Lev. 19: 35 f.), though this was not always observed (Amos 8: 4–5). There was no unified system covering the whole country. Metals were weighed in talents; one was divisible into 60 minas of 60 shekels each, but the weight of a shekel varied.

Height and length were measured in the OT in cubits; dry capacity in homers, which could be loaded on a donkey, or ephahs, containers which could hold a person (Zech. 5: 7). Liquids were measured by a bath (72 litres) and a hin (1/6 of a bath).

In the NT talents are mentioned in the parable in Matt. 18: 23 ff. A talent weighed perhaps 36 kg. or a hundredweight (Rev. 16: 21); a pound (John 12: 3) was the Roman libra—about 317 g. or 12 ounces.

Distance and length and height in the NT are measured in terms of cubits (Matt. 6: 27, AV, NRSV marg.), and a boat ‘two hundred cubits from the shore’ (John 21: 8, AV, NRSV marg.) would have been about half a stadion or 91.4 m. (100 yards) away (REB, NJB). The ‘mile’ of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 41) would have been the Roman mile of 5,000 Roman feet (1,480 m. or 1,618 yards). Capacity is measured in the NT by Roman measures, so that a ‘firkin’ (AV, RV, John 2: 6) would have been from 91 to 136 litres or about 20 to 30 gallons (NRSV, REB, NJB).