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Convert volumes of liquid or dry products measured in Ephah's into modern units

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

Talent Converter (weights) Cubit Converter (lengths)
Ephah Converter (volumes) NT Money

A variety of different measures were used in Israel for measuring volumes of liquids or dry products. These could describe both the measure of capacity, as well as the container for carrying the product. It is not always clear whether the measure was used for units of liquid, for dry products, or for both. The measures of volume used in the OT are listed below, from the largest to the smallest.

The Homer

The homer is only mentioned in the OT in connection with the measurement of barley and wheat (Lev 27:16, Ezek 45;13, Hos 3:2), so appears only to be used for dry products. "If a person consecrates to the LORD any inherited landholding, its assessment shall be in accordance with its seed requirements: fifty shekels of silver to a homer of barley seed" (Lev 27:16).

The Kor or Cor

The kor appears to be the same volume as a homer. In the OT it is used as a measure of flour, wheat, oil, and barley (1 Kg 4:22, 5:11, 2 Chr 2:10, 27:5), both liquid and dry products. "The ammonites gave him (Jotham) that year 100 talents of silver, 10,000 cors of wheat and 10,000 of barley" (2 Chr 5:11)

The Lethech

The lethech is only mentioned in the Book of Hosea, when Hosea buys his wife back for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. It appears that a lethech was half a homer, but this is not certain.

The Ephah

The ephah is the most frequently mentioned measure of volume in the OT. It was equal to the bath, and was one-tenth of a homer. It was used to measure flour, barley, and roasted grain (1 Sam 1:24, Ruth 2:17, 1 Sam 17:17), which are all dry measures. "So she (Ruth) gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley" (Ruth 2:17). An ephah was also used to describe the container holding an ephah's worth of the product. From the LXX and in Jewish writings an ephah appears to be three seahs.

The Bath

The bath was the same size as an ephah, but was only used as a liquid measure. It also described the container of that size. In the OT, it is used to measure oil, water and wine (1 Kg 7:26, 2 Chr 2:10, Ezra 7:22, Ezek 45:14). Solomon's agreement with Hiram of Tyre ... "I will provide for your servants, those who cut the timber, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 cors of crushed wheat, 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil" (2 Chr 2:10).

The Seah (translated 'measure')

The seah was used in the OT to measure fine meal, barley and roasted grain (Gen 18:6, 1 Sam 25:18, 2 Kg 7:1,16,18), which are all dry products. In other writings is is also used to measure liquids. In the LXX and in English translations the word 'measure' is used. "Elisha said, '... Tomorrow about this time a measure (seah) of choice meal shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures (seahs) of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria'." (2 Kg 7:1). It is thought to be one third of an ephah.

The Hin

In the OT, the hin is only used in texts commanding the correct amount of liquid to be used in sacrifices and rituals. It was used to measure olive oil and wine (Ex 29:40, 30:24). "One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening; and with the first lamb one-tenth of a measure of choice flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering" (Ex 29:40).

The Omer

The omer is only used in the OT to describe the quantity of the manna provided for one person each day (Ex 16:16,18,22,32). It is defined as one tenth of an ephah (16:36). In other places in the OT the words 'tenth of an ephah' are regularly used, suggesting that it fell out of use.

The Issaron

The issaron is used over thirty times in the Pentateuch as a measure of flour (Lev 14:10,21, Num 15:4,6,9). The root of the word is 'ten', so it was also a tenth of an ephah, equal to an omer.

The Kab

The kab, or cab, is only used once in the OT, when during a famine in Samaria, a quarter kab of of dove's dung was sold for five shekels of silver (2 Kg 6:25). In later centuries the kab was used as both a liquid and dry measure, equal to one sixth of a seah.

The Log

The log is only used in Leviticus for the cleansing of a leper as a measure of oil (Lev 14:10,12,15,21,24). In Mesopotamia it was used as measure of ointment.

Summary of the volumes

Some of the equivalent values are fairly certain:
1 homer / kor = 10 ephahs / baths
1 ephah / bath = 3 seahs
1 seah = 3.3 omers / issarons
Calculating the equivalent values of the smaller measures is more difficult through lack of evidence or inconsistent statements in later translations. These are possible equivalents:
1 seah = 2 hins
1 omer / issaron = 1.8 kabs
1 kab = 4 logs

Conversion to modern units

This is also very difficult due to scanty or conflicting literary and archaeological evidence. In the writings of Josephus, it appears that one ephah or bath was equivalent to the Greek 'metretes', which was about 39 litres, making a homer around 390 litres. However, some jars from the first century AD found in Jerusalem would suggest that a bath was around 21 litres, which is also confirmed by fragments of jars found from the eighth century BC. This would make a homer around 210 litres. Some jars associated with royalty have been found which contain 44 litres.

The best suggestion is that one ephah or bath is equivalent to 22 litres. However it is possible that Israel also had an extra large double-bath, perhaps particularly for royalty.

Conversion values

Two values will be given from the calculations. The first is based on an ephah being 22 litres (39 pints or 4.9 gallons). The result will also show the value based on an ephah being 44 litres (79 pints or 9.9 gallons).

Unit of measurement Metric units Imperial units
Homer / Kor 220 litres 49 gallons (392 pints)
Ephah / Bath 22 litres 4.9 gallons (39.2 pints)
Seah 7.3 litres 13 pints
Hin 3.7 litres 6.5 pints
Omer / Issaron 2.21 litres 4 pints
Kab 1.2 litres 2.2 pints
Log 0.3 litres o.5 pint

Convert OT volumes to modern values

Value of volume
Select units (default is an ephah)

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS