Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Word of the Day -- Shekel

Shekel is any of several ancient units of weight or of currency.

Initially, it may have referred to a weight of barley. This shekel was about 180 grains.

The Hebrew word shekel is based on the verbal root for "weighing" (sh.q.l), cognate to the Akkadian šiqlu or siqlu, a unit of weight equivalent to the Sumerian gin2. Use of the word was first attested in c. 2150 BC during the Akkadian Empire under the reign of Naram-Sin, and later in c. 1700 BC in the Code of Hammurabi. The sh.q.l root is found in the Hebrew words for "to weigh" (shaqal), "weight" (mishqal) and "consideration" (shiqqul), and is related to the t.q.l root in Aramaic and the th.q.l root in Arabic, such as in the Arabic word for "heavy", thaqil. The famous writing on the wall in the Biblical Book of Daniel includes a cryptic use of the word in Aramaic: "Mene, mene, teqel, u-farsin". The word "shekel" came in to the English language via the Hebrew Bible, where it is first used in the Book of Genesis.

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