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Biblical History of Gold as Money

“The men of Dedan in Arabia, traded with you; many islands and coast lands were your own markets; they brought you in payment ivory tusks and ebony. Judah and the land of Israel, they were your traders; they exchanged in your market wheat of Minnith, honey, oil and balm.”Ezekiel 27: 15 & 17

Barter of value, as determined by an unencumbered market, has been practiced for the vast majority of world history. It was a simple and private means of establishing values and satisfying individual needs via open exchange, and can still be found in use today, in numerous communities.

“ So they brought their livestock to Joseph and he gave them food in exchange for the horses, flocks, cattle of the herds, and the donkeys; and he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.” Genesis 47:17

For millennia the ancient world progressed, family’s prospered, and foolish practices were quickly learned, through this open market exchange. But at times it was difficult to close the books on a trade, or to fulfill “on the spot” equality of exchange where a valuable item was traded for one of lesser value, and it became necessary for a tally stick of “IOU” accounts to be kept on outstanding “trades”. The solution to this less than satisfactory system was a market accepted medium of exchange, a “currency” that could satisfy any imbalances at the time the exchange takes place.

“ You shall have just weights on your scales and just measures.” Ezekiel 45:10

This necessity for a convenient medium of exchange (currency) lead to civilizations on all continents independently determining that specific weights of gold and silver, would serve this role admirably. The principles established for measuring these precious metals have change little over the last 6,000 years.

“ Abraham weighed 400 shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants. ” Genesis 23:16

Gold Scale

Four thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ, it is recorded that the use of the equal arm beam balance provided the market place with its first instrument for determining exact and relative weights to equate “currency” standards for trade and exchange.

This ancient balance consisted of a horizontal suspended beam, from which hung a pan at each end, equidistant from the pivot. One pan held the established and predetermined standard weight (often made of limestone) that was to be exchanged to satisfy the trade in question. Pieces of silver, small gold nuggets, dust, or granules were then added to the entity pan until the two pans balanced. The correct weight of silver or gold required to satisfy the price to be paid or differential of the item traded, was then given and the transaction completed. Though primitive, these two-pan beam balances were capable of accuracy as high as 99%.

“False balances are an abomination unto the Lord but a perfect weight pleaseth him.” Proverbs 11:15


Limestone Shekel Weight

Limetstone, 1 Shekel-weight, as inscribed (right) Flat base (left) for stability on beam scale pan.

Probably the most significant improvement to this beam balance design was made by the Romans who added a knife edge called the fulcrum to the pivot point, which made the device much more sensitive and accurate, particularly when determining very small weights.  This standardization of just weights and measuring devices insured that not only could exchanges in the market place be quickly and easily determined and settled, but the results could be relied upon.


“ If it seems just and right to you, give me my wages; but if not withhold them. So they weighed out for my price 30 pieces of silver.”Zechariah 11:12

As a natural progression and in order to dispense with the need for carrying a beam scale, standardized measures of silver and gold were cast in a crude minting fashion, to an established weight and purity. This was a major breakthrough in facilitating both domestic and international trade, and was the basis for the first coins.

“Rejoice with me for I have found the silver coin which I had lost.” Luke 15:9

Lydian Lion The history of coinage is fascinating. It would appear that the first coin ever produced was the privately issued “Lydian Lion” in about 600 BC. Interestingly they were made of a blend of silver and gold, known as “electrum”, and were about 50-60% gold. Minted by King Alyattes in Sardis, Lydia, Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), these coins which weighed 4.7 grams, were approximately 11mm in diameter and 4mm thick.

“Lydian Lion”

Bullion coins in their purest form were the perfect currency. All too often though they lost their purity by becoming the exclusive domain and monopoly of Kings, Caesars and Governments, who controlled their issue, debased their intrinsic value, and introduced a regulated face value, thus infecting their citizens with the “dis-ease” of a valueless money system of unjust weights and measures. It was soon recognized by the astute merchant that this practice was to the detriment of the economy to which these debased coins were mandated, and trades were often only consummated in the currency of the merchant’s choice.

“ The silver is mine and the gold is mine says the Lord” Haggai 2:8

“ Open Exchange Coins”, which are almost exclusively privately issued and minted from the created resources of gold and silver, utilize the God given benefits of these tangible commodities, and are therefore grossly different from money.

Rembrandt Christ Drives Changers from the Temple
         Christ Drives Money-Changers  from the Temple
         by Rembrandt

Money is a modern invention in world history. The word money comes from the Latin word “Moneta” which was one of the names of “Juno”, the Roman goddess, whose temple was used as a mint. Money is a pagan term, and along with its associated instruments and derivatives is a dangerous and deceptive mechanism. Today’s money is known as “fiat” currency; which is a form of currency that comes into existence by a government decree or statute, and not as a result of an open market preference. Fiat money usually has a denominated face value, is devoid of intrinsic value, and consists merely of a promise issued by a government. This problem is accentuated by the fact that the vast majority of the governments of the worlds’ 200 countries are either massively in debt or insolvent. Further, money is continually devalued in direct proportion to the increase of its supply. As more money is printed and or minted and spent into circulation, the less valuable the money you have in your pocket becomes. This is basic supply and demand economics.

Gold and silver coins on the other hand require no “promise to honor” from anyone, because they possess intrinsic value. It’s not surprising then, that gold and silver coins as currency are disliked by the “Caesars”of this world, because they can’t print them. Their clear preference is “money” because it’s “Caesars’ creation”. So, as has been suggested… “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s” Matthew 22:21

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine says the Lord”. Haggai 2:8

Throughout history two distinct types of coins have circulated.

1. “Monopoly Coins” identified by:
– Government and/or 3rd party monopoly ownership (e.g. by various coinage acts and decrees.)
– A monetary face value determined by statute (e.g. 1 Denarius, $1, or 50 pence)
– Government inscription (e.g. Image of “Caesar” or state “ID”.)
– Little or no integrity of precious metal content.
– Little or no intrinsic value.
– Being merely tokens of inferred value.

2. “Open Exchange Coins” identified by:
– Private bearer ownership.
– Intrinsic value in their own right.
– Integrity of precious metal content.
– Absence of a monetary face value.
– Absence of government or third party encumbrances.
– Open market assessment as to their value and tradability.
– Bearer’s liberty as to usage or hoarding.

“ But thou shall have a right and just weight: a perfect and just measure shalt thou have that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 25:15

With the benefit of historical hindsight, the civilizations that have embraced a system of just weights and measures and an open exchange of gold and silver coinage, not only enjoyed longevity as a power, but their citizens and those who chose to trade with such currency of integrity, enjoyed the prosperity and security it ensures.

In order for gold and silver coinage to enjoy maximum benefit in the market place it must pass the following 5-point test.

1. The coin must be your property (Government issued coins are not)

2. It must be a stipulated weight (Grams or troy ounces are preferred)

3. It must be a determined purity (Preferably pure gold, pure silver or a mixture)

4. It must be in small denomination of weight (2 grams – 30 grams, or 1 tenth troy ounce – 1 troy ounce)

5. It must be internationally recognized (Via a reputable hallmark or trademark)