Wheat Flour Measure
Next Previous Index Tellout Home

Wheat Flour Measure (Revelation 6.6-7)

"Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, 'Two pounds [or "about 1 kilogram"] of wheat for a day's wages, [Greek "a denarius"] and six pounds [or "about 3 kilograms"] of barley for a day's wages, [Greek "a denarius"] and do not damage the oil and the wine!' When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!'" (Revelation 6.6-7)✞

Four Living Creatures

BarleyThe fact that this statement came like "the voice from the four living creatures" emphasized its importance in times of famine when basic necessities were at a premium. It showed how important the high price of food was to God and to the people. In times of food shortage, two pounds of fine cultivated flour for bread or six pounds of the much coarser barley flour cost one denarius. This represented a day's wages for a workman and was a small silver Roman coin first minted in BC 211. It was a working man's daily pay in the Roman world.

Value of a Denarius

Roman MoneyA denarius in the First century AD was equivalent to about $80 in today's money. Normally, one denarius bought anywhere from eight to sixteen measures of fine white wheat flour or three to four times as much of barley which was a courser and cheaper equivalent.

Support for One's Family

Wheat FlourWhat John of Patmos in his vision was emphasizing here that food was so expensive that a man's whole working wage was needed to buy enough food just for himself, leaving nothing for any of the other necessities of life and nothing at all for his wife and family. It was a desperate situation for any working man to be in. If instead of wheat flour a worker bought the much inferior barley cereal grain then he might manage to give some to his wife and family but again he would not have been able to buy anything else. It was a serious economic challenge for the people and one which was to cause widespread famine and subsequent riots in the Roman Empire. The four living creatures in Revelation are concerned about this life or death problem for the people.

"Wheat Flour Measure"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

^Top Page Next Previous