What’s a “talent?”


“Worth his weight in gold.”

A talent was an amount of money intended to correspond to a man’s weight in gold. Thus, a man who possessed a single talent could be said to be “worth his weight in gold.”

But just how much money was this?

The normal, average man in Bible times weighed about 72 pounds.

The normal pay for an unskilled worker — minimum wage, as it were — in Bible times was one denarius per day; as mentioned, for example, in Matthew 20:2. The denarius was a silver coin weighing about ¼ ounce: it was equivalent to the coin we call a “quarter,” only solid silver.

With these facts —
• A talent was 72 lbs. of gold.
• A denarius was ¼ ounce of silver.
• Gold was valued at 10 times the price of silver.
— we can devise this equation:

4 denarii
1 oz silver
× 16 ozs
1 lb
× 72 lbs
1 talent
× 10 silver
1 gold
= 46,080 denarii
1 talent

So one talent was equivalent to a normal worker’s pay for 46,080 days, or more than 125 years.

This was an enormous sum of money.

Related, a timely news item: Man Walks Off With $1.6 Million Pot of Gold in Apparent Theft Caught on Camera

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