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Ezekiel 45:12, in discussing just weights and measures, says:

וְהַשֶּׁקֶל, עֶשְׂרִים גֵּרָה; עֶשְׂרִים שְׁקָלִים חֲמִשָּׁה וְעֶשְׂרִים שְׁקָלִים, עֲשָׂרָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה שֶׁקֶל--הַמָּנֶה, יִהְיֶה לָכֶם.

And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, ten, and five shekels, shall be your maneh.

That seems like a pretty roundabout way of saying sixty shekels. Why is it expressed this way? Is there symbolism in the numbers chosen? Were, 20, 25, etc shekels common units of value already in use?

(Somebody asked this question over on Biblical Hermeneutics but as of this writing it has not received a credible answer, so I thought I'd ask here.)

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I looked [meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/996/… for a suitable tag for the monetary part but didn't spot one, so I created weights-and-measures. If there's something more appropriate that I missed, somebody please fix. Thanks! –  Monica Cellio May 18 '12 at 15:33
    
Consider shiurim-measurements (though given its current wiki text, that may be too specific) and money (is it indeed a monetary shekel disucssed here?). –  Isaac Moses May 18 '12 at 15:37
    
@IsaacMoses, let's go with that. It appears to be monetary here. –  Monica Cellio May 18 '12 at 15:44
    
Actually, in antiquity a coin's monetary value was expressed as its weight (of silver, in this case). So it's both money and weight. –  Dave May 18 '12 at 17:19

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Rashi to that verse, and Tosafos in Bechoros 5a (s.v. Esrim), ask this question. They answer (based on the Targum of the verse) that there were actually separate measuring utensils that had to be made in the listed denominations. See there for the detailed explanation of what each one was used for.

Update: Here is how it is presented by D.A.F. Resources:

TOSFOS (DH Esrim) explains that these three parts represent the actual measuring units used in the Beis ha'Mikdash. "Twenty Shekels" was used as a measure for a third of a Maneh of Kodesh. "Twenty-five Shekels" was used to measure one plain (non-Kodesh) Maneh. "Fifteen Shekels" measured one quarter of a Maneh of Kodesh.

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  • :/.גמרא בבא בתרא צ

    אמר שמואל: אין מוסיפין על המדות יותר משתות, ולא על המטבע יתר משתות והמשתכר אל ישתכר יותר משתותאמר... אמר רב חסדא, שמואל קרא אשכח ודרש: +יחזקאל מ"ה+ והשקל עשרים גרה עשרים שקלים חמשה ועשרים שקלים עשרה וחמשה שקל המנה יהיה לכם,מנה - מאתן וארבעין הוו! אלא שמע מינה תלת, ש"מ: מנה של קדש כפול היה, ושמע מינה: מוסיפין על המדות ואין מוסיפין יותר משתות, ושמע מינה: שתותא מלבר

  • it would apear that the reason it is written as such is to show the three things mentioned in the גמרא: the מנה of the בית המיקדש was double the usual amount, you can revalue money, but not more than a sixth, and that sixth is "from the outside", i.e. it is actually a fifth but when you add all the parts together it is 6/5.

  • רשב''ם שם ד''ה– עשרים שקלים חמשה ועשרים שקלים עשרה וחמשה שקל - שלש חשבונות הללו ביחד המנה יהיה לכם ויש לומר דיש מקומות שהמנה חמשה עשר סלעים ויש עשרים סלעים ויש חמשה ועשרים לכך נאמר שלשת המנים הללו המנה של קודש יהיה לכם

  • translation: ... One may say that there are places that the mana is 15 sheqalim and another (place) that it is 20 sheqalim and another that it is 25 sheqalim, therefore it (the pasuk) says these three types of mana

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2  
Wouldn't we know all of that if it just said simply "sixty shekels make a maneh"? The Gemara's point - that this equals 240 dinarim, versus a normal maneh of 100 dinar - would still be the same either way. –  Alex May 18 '12 at 16:44
    
עשרים שקלים חמשה ועשרים שקלים עשרה וחמשה שקל - שלש חשבונות הללו ביחד המנה יהיה לכם ויש לומר דיש מקומות שהמנה חמשה עשר סלעים ויש עשרים סלעים ויש חמשה ועשרים לכך נאמר שלשת המנים הללו המנה של קודש יהיה לכם –  moses May 18 '12 at 17:22
    
sorry i didnt say- that was the רשב''ם –  moses May 18 '12 at 17:22
    
תוס' שם ד''ה והשקל בא''ד– וה"ק קרא והשקל שהיה תחלה עשרים גרה ומאותם שקלים יהיה לכם המנה עשרים שקלים חמשה ועשרים שקלים עשרה וחמשה שקל והיינו ששים שקלים בין הכל –  moses May 18 '12 at 17:27
3  
@moses - that Rashbam is quite interesting, adding it to your answer (with translation) would make it complete. –  Dave May 18 '12 at 18:04

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