How much was a denarius worth in Jesus' day compared to today?

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asked Nov 19, 2011 by anonymous
edited Nov 19, 2011 by daniel

1 Answer

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answered Dec 7, 2011 by Joseph (2,280 points)
edited May 4, 2012 by daniel

A denarius (or "penny") was what an agricultural worker typically was paid for one day's labor (Mt. 20:2).  If we assume U.S. minimum wage for 10 hours, that would be $72.50 currently.

Compare this with the feeding of the 5,000 men (plus women and children), where the disciples noted that 200 pennyworth (denarii) ($14,500) was insufficient to feed the group (Mk. 6:37; Jn. 6:7).

In contrast to that, note Rev. 6:6, which sets the price of wheat at a penny per measure, or barley at a penny for 3 measures.  I have been told that a measure here is enough to feed a person for a day.  In other words, it would take an agricultural worker's entire wages ($72.50 per day) to feed himself on wheat; or he would be able to feed himself and two other family members on barley.  This verse is obviously indicating a difficult time of some sort.

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