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Large jars for storing oil or wine were common in Judah. For 100’s of years, oil and wine were the commodities that were used to pay tribute and taxes. Many storage jars were standardized and may have held 40-50 liters of product. I am curious if the single cruse of oil was of this character.

storage jars from Ramat Rachel
Storage Jars From Ramat Rachel

In The Talmud Shabbos 21b it says: ולא מצאו אלא פך אחד של שמן שהיה מונח בחותמו של כהן גדול ולא היה בו אלא להדליק יום אחד

And only one cruse of oil was found which lay with the seal of the High Priest and there was only enough for one day’s lighting.

How much oil did the jug contain for one day's lighting?


The artifact, a clay seal the size of a button, is inscribed with the Aramaic words meaning “Pure for G-d.”
Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

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    Mick, a belated welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! You could make this question even more compelling by editing in a little bit about why you want to know what this volume was. – Isaac Moses Dec 21 '14 at 2:14
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They used a half of a lug of oil in each candle every night, in order that it would last through the longest night of the year (Menachos 88b). A lug is 6 egg volumes. An egg volume is disputed, but it's accepted to be either around 57 (R' Chaim Naeh) or 100 (Chazon Ish) mL.

So the volume per candle was about 172 or 294 mL, or about 1200 or 2050 mL total.

  • Or 75.6 cubic thumb-widths in total (P'sachim 109a) for the 3.5 lugin mentioned in that mishna in M'nachos. :) – Fred Dec 21 '14 at 4:31
  • +1 That's a pach kattan??? – user6591 Dec 21 '14 at 4:47
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    @user6591 נתקטנו הפכין, small jugs used to be much bigger :-P – Y     e     z Dec 21 '14 at 15:32
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    @YEZ lol! Well played. – user6591 Dec 21 '14 at 15:34
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It contained a half a lug of oil. See Maharsha Chullin 55 and Rivevos Ephraim Chelek 3:460:23.

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    I have a feeling that you posted this from a mobile device. :) – Isaac Moses Dec 21 '14 at 3:54
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    Yup its hard to type from a phone why did you have a feeling – sam Dec 21 '14 at 3:56
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    The half lug was per light, not for the whole menorah. – Y     e     z Dec 21 '14 at 4:00
  • You read the tshuva and the Maharsha? – sam Dec 21 '14 at 19:17
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    @sam It seems like the Riv'vos Ephrayim is talking about per light, and the Maharsha is certainly talking about per light. The Maharsha proposes that, to avoid problems of tum'ah, they made a quasi beis kibbul for each lamp (that was slightly smaller than half of a log) from the broken remnants of vessels that had an initial capacity of between one and two se'ah. Since Chanukah has the longest nights of the year, it required a full 0.5 log to burn long enough. Hence, there was a miracle also on the first night, as the oil burned all night despite lamps with inadequate capacity. – Fred Dec 22 '14 at 5:59

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