# How much is 30 pieces of silver today?

How much would 30 pieces of silver be worth at today’s value?
That 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas?

I have heard that it’s worth about \$15.

But consider this:
30 pieces was enough to purchase a piece of land.
50 shekels was enough to compensate for raping a woman. (is shekel the same as the piece above?)

Actually, does anyone know if the husband has to pay for divorcing his wife under ancient Jewish law? If yes, anyone know how much?

A silver dollar weighs about an ounce.
Silver, at a 23 year high, costs about \$14.50 an ounce.

30 X 14.50 = \$435.00

Shekel weight and purity varied, but 10 grams silver per coin is a better estimate than 28.
That’d make 30 of them worth about \$155.00.

Thank you very much, Squink, for the quick response.

But I am asking more in term of value.

For example: 30 pieces of silver is the equivalent of how many years of normal wage in Jesus’s time? It would allow a normal family to live for how long? etc?

\$155 can’t possible buy a piece of land, could it?

I’m pretty sure that 30 pieces of silver were about a month’s wages.

After reading footnotes in my Bible, it says that the 30 pieces were equal to 120 denarii. It also says a roman soldier was paid one dinarius a day.

In Bible times it was the price of a slave.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Also the price of betrayal.

Matthew 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

And the price of the pottter’s field for the burial of strangers.

Matthew 27:6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

Evaluations of todays value vary as per other posts.

Well if the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Manhattan tribe during Colonial times for \$24 it seems possible…but \$155 seems like a rip off.

A Empire period denarius had (if you were lucky) around 50 grains of silver, or very roughly 1/10 of an ounce. In other words, a silver denarius was a dime. So, a silver denarius was 1/10 the size of the silver dollar. Thus, the “silver peice” was more or less a quarter.

According to Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denarius : “t is difficult to give even comparative values for money from before the 20th century, due to vastly different types of products, however, its purchasing power in terms of bread has been estimated at US\$20 in the early empire. Classical historians regularly say that in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire the daily wage for an unskilled laborer was one denarius, estimated at \$20. (By comparison, an American laborer earning the Federal minimum wage makes \$41 for an 8-hour day, while the average American makes \$180 a day.) The actual silver content of the Denarius was about 50 grains, or 1/10 troy ounces under the Empire.”

Soooo, given that, the “30” would have been worth (in terms of spending power), somewhere between \$2000 & \$5000. In other words, a nice chunk of change but not enough to make one rich.

So, if the pieces of silver were denari, then Judas was given a month’s wages.

Let’s see… the Federal minimum wage is \$5.15 per hour. (Remember, we’re talking about unskilled labor.) If we assume thirty 8-hour days, then we get \$1236. Cost of living was much lower back then (no phone bill, no cable bill, didn’t need to buy gas for the car, etc.), so I’d bump the figure up to a few thousand dollars.

Thank you all for your help.

So, depends on what the silver pieces are, we are looking at maybe a few thousand dollars to 10k plus…

A substantial amount of money, but not that much.

Does anyone know anything about Jewish divorce?

I found on the web that the divorce settlement would be stated on their marriage contract. Would anyone have any idea as to how much it would be at Jesus’ time?

When you calculate wages by hour for comparison reasons, you want to avoid hours that no one actually worked.
A modern American minimum wager probably works no more than 5 8 hour days per week and probably takes 5-10 unpaid days off of work per year, minimum, accounting for personal days and sick days.
In one month, assuming an average of 4.33 weeks per month, expect 4.33 times 40 hours of labor or 173 hours.
I know that modern family farmers don’t really get eight hour days; sometimes the day might be two hours, sometimes (harvest time) it might be sixteen hours. Since the bulk of the world’s population was farming prior to a few hundred years back, you’ve got a mixed back to calculate against.
I likely have ancestors who mined coal in the US during a period when the expected hours were 6 days by 10 hours per week.
Hard to handicap this stuff, no?

There isn’t any one right answer to this, because it’s connected to an economy very different from anything we’re familiar with. There are at least three ways to approach the question; none is perfect, and they crank out different answers. And in addition, it’s not clear to me which coin a “piece of silver” would be. I’m guessing a denarius; because that was the standard Imperial coinage, and coining precious metals was an Imperial monopoly. But the drachma did circulate, and Tyrian shekels were used in Jerusalem as Temple coinage. Anyhow, let’s think in terms of denarii; that’ll get us within an order of magnitude, which is as close to accurate as we can expect to get anyway.

WEIGHT OF SILVER. This is used most often, but I think it’s the least useful. First off, it depends on the modern silver market, which fluctuates. (So, modern market fluctuations affect first century currency values…?) Second, silver coinage in the Roman Empire was rarely pure silver, and the amount of actual precious metal in a coin of a given weight could vary dramatically.

EARNING POWER. This is helpful, I think; but remember that we’re dealing with a third world pre-industrial society in which there was very little like a “middle class.” Most people were poorer than we can easily imagine; a few were spectacularly rich.
So, it looks like in Judea a day laborer might earn a denarius a day; if he could get work. It also looks like most people hoped to work seven days a week; although observant Jews, keeping the Sabbath, would be an exception.
An artisan might expect to earn two denarii a day. So one to two denarii a day look to me like the normal range.
So: in terms of earning power, thirty pieces of silver would represent something like two weeks to a month or more of wages. Bear in mind that a household probably had more than one person working full-time.

COST OF LIVING. But what would you buy with it?
Here things get tricky. The cost of food varied considerably; it might be relatively affordable in a rural area if the crops were good, and much higher in a city or if there’d been a local crop failure. (Transportation was generally poor, so you couldn’t much compensate by shipping in food from outside, unless you were right by a seaport.) The cost of manufactured goods like cloth was much higher, comparatively, than we would expect; everything was hand-made. An ordinary person would think in terms of one outfit of clothing a year, and you’d wear it till it wore out.
As best I can tell, a denarius a day would probably be enough (though barely enough) to maintain a small family at subsistence level. “Subsistence level” being lower than urban poverty in any modern industrialized society.
So, you could maybe meet expenses for a month with thirty pieces of silver. But then, you can get an argument among scholars whether Judea was a cash economy in the first place; or were most transactions done by barter?

SUMMING UP: I don’t see any reasonable way to set a “dollar value” on thirty pieces of silver. There’s too many different plausible questions.
The best I could say was that thirty pieces of silver would be a sizeable amount, for an ordinary working person; but far from enough to set you up for life. I’d guess that if you think in terms of a month’s wages, you’ll have some sense for how such an amount would feel to a person in that society.

For what it’s worth, in a program at church the minister said it was less than the cost of a beast of burden in that day. Sorry, no cite or backup for this contention.

This seems about right. I always thought that one of the important aspects to the tale was that he sold Jesus out for so little–\$150 is something, but not a great deal of money.

(In fact, I’ve always been puzzled by the whole Judas story to begin with. By the end of his life, Jesus had already gained a good deal of fame, or notoriety depending on the point of view, so why was he “betrayed with a kiss”?

Thank you all again for your help!

Cite ?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. [c] He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
Sorry, should have mentioned that he has to marry her too.