Friday, January 14, 2011

Q&A - How much does one cake of Shewbread weigh ?

The answer to this question can be found in Leviticus 24:5:

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth (deals) shall be in one cake.

‎5 ‏וְלָקַחְתָּ֣ סֹ֔לֶת וְאָפִיתָ֣ אֹתָ֔הּ שְׁתֵּ֥ים עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה חַלּ֑וֹת שְׁנֵי֙ עֶשְׂרֹנִ֔ים יִהְיֶ֖ה הַֽחַלָּ֥ה הָאֶחָֽת׃

There are three dry units of measure (as far as the cereal crops go):

  1. Homer (חמר) [Lev. 27:16]
  2. Ephah (איפה) [Ex. 16:36], sometimes called - Bath(בת) [Eze. 45:11]
  3. Omer (עמר)   [Ex. 16:36]
Homer = 10 Ephas [Eze. 45:11] and Ephah(or Bath) = 10 Omers [Ex. 16:36]

Since the table was relatively small (1x2 cubits) and since an Homer was a relatively large unit of measure (~220kg), one can say with utmost certainty that each  loaf of Shewbread weighted 2/10th of an Omer (probably ~600-700gram). Here is the rendering:

This is because Omer is the only unit of measure out of three that would put each loaf of Shewbread within a reasonable weight limits, so that 12 of these loafs would also weigh reasonable and could be easily setup upon the Table. Like so:
Besides, it would be overtly excessive to have an 2/10th of an Homer or 2/10th of an Ephah  per loaf of bread (even for the whole week) for relatively small number of priests serving in the sanctuary. After all, the Children of Israel were in the desert and it was not the best place to be wasteful. Therefore, 2/10th of an Omer per loaf seems to be the correct value here.

Another thing to consider is that Shewbread remained upon the Table during its transport, so if 1(one) loaf of Shewbread would weigh, say, 2/10th of an Ephah (4kg) or 2/10th of an Homer(40kg!), it would be simply impossible to transport the Table upon the shoulders of just several men. Like so (shown without coverings):


Therefore, each loaf(cake) of Shewbread could only weigh 2/10th of an Omer(עמר), or ~600-700grams, 400grams of flour + 200 grams of water...

UPDATE 01/22/2016: Please note that I managed to recover value of the Omer. Please see my latest posts on Omer and Shew-bread.

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