Silver Money -- By: W. E. C. Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 053:212 (Oct 1896)
Article: Silver Money
Author: W. E. C. Wright


Silver Money

Rev. W. E. C. Wright

Any accepted medium of exchange is money. The oxen in which Homer reckoned values in the Grecian camp before Troy were money. So was tobacco for a century and a half in Virginia, and wampum in New England and New York. So is cocoanut oil in many a South Sea Island, and brass wire as well as cotton cloth in South Central Africa. The accepted medium is money wherever it is accepted without regard to the reasons that induce its acceptance, and no article is money a day longer nor a mile farther than it is accepted. Stanley’s company came to desperate straits when they neared the mouth of the Congo and found tribes that would not accept brass wire and cotton cloth in payment for food.

Gold and silver long ago became the most widely used money material. They are the precious metals, not on account of their usefulness, which is far below that of iron, but because of their beauty and scarcity. They have always been attractive for purposes of ornament to savage men as well as to civilized. The Israelites in the days of Moses stripped from the slain Midianites nearly a third of a ton of gold rings and bracelets, enough to coin now into about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars (Num. 31:52). Much earlier we find Abraham buying the cave of Machpelah for “four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant” (Gen. 23:16). When Joseph returned his brethren’s money, it is said that he gave it back “full weight” (Gen. 43:21),

When Jeremiah bought the field of Hanameel he weighed the price in shekels of silver (Jer. 32:9). This mention of weighing makes it probable that the silver was in pieces or bars of varying size on which the weight may or may not have been stamped. The convenience of having an authentic stamp on money brought minting well into vogue before New Testament times. Upon the silver penny which Jesus used in answering his critics, they acknowledged at once the image and superscription of Caesar.

The minting of the precious metals is simply imprinting the government guarantee that the piece is of a certain degree of fineness and of a certain weight. The minting does not make the value of the piece, it only certifies the value. In the words of Burns

“The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.”

The stamp of a reliable government will make a piece of silver or gold accepted for whatever that quantity of the metal is valued at wherever the piece is offered. Govern...

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