THE EARTHLY INHERITANCE SERIES of BIBLE SUBJECTS
Various Bible study guides in subjects pertaining to
New Earth prophecy, as taught by Paul Phelps.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD,
they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 37:9
DISCOVERING ISRAEL'S CUBITS
A description of Israel’s ancient cubit measures based on
the archaeological findings at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
From the Biblical Archaeological Review, March/April ‘83,
(pages 46-49): the findings of Israeli Professor Yigal Yadin.
An informational essay by Paul Phelps.
After several years of study this writing was completed in 2000.
In antiquity the cubit was the usual unit of length measure in many countries.
This is an average length of a man’s forearm from elbow to extended fingertip.
The length varied from time-to-time and country-to-country. The cubit is often
referred to in the Bible but the exact length could not be known until recently.
Cubits express human body proportions. Every cubit consists of two ‘spans;’
(a span is a man’s spread-open hand from small finger tip unto the thumb tip).
Each span is three handbreadths (or palms). One handbreadth is the breadth of
four fingers (or digits) put together. There are six handbreadths in a cubit, and
each cubit is therefore twenty-four digits.
Onsite foundation-stone notches have been discovered on the Temple Mount
in Jerusalem. These incised notches show precise locations and orientations of
stone structures on the Temple Mount during both the First and Second Temple
time eras, and measurements taken reveal the exact lengths of cubits then used.
Israel’s three cubits are called ‘medium cubits’ in historic reference. The three
‘medium cubits’ differ from each other by an approximate half digit.
The shortest cubit is the first or former cubit from Moses’ time. This was the
cubit of the First Temple (2 Chron. 3:3). Because this was the first cubit known
to Moses, the Wilderness Tabernacle was probably also designed for this cubit.
The obtained length of this cubit is 1/7th of three metres, or 42.857142 cm.
When the Jews returned from Babylon they brought with them two measures:
the smaller and larger cubits. Israeli buildings of the second temple era used
the smaller of these cubits. The larger cubit came into daily use and it became
the standard Palestinian cubit in Roman times.
The obtained measures of the smaller cubit average 43.7 cm.
The obtained measures for the larger cubit average 44.5 cm.
Ezekiel was a priest in the first temple and in his time the first cubit was still
being used. The angel of his vision (Ezek. 40:5) used a six-cubit measure rod,
but the cubits used were one handbreadth longer, thus making his cubits 50 cm
in length; (42.857142 + 7.142858 = 50). Angels apparently use half-metre units
in their measure system. The angel’s measuring rod was six of the longer cubits
so therefore he was using a three-metre rod.
Based on Ezekiel’s vision of the future, it is probable that the New Earth cubit
will be the longer half-metre cubit used by the angel.
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