Shekalim, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four



This mishnah explains how a person would buy libation offerings, meaning the flour, oil and wine which we described in yesterday’s mishnah.


Mishnah Four

1)      If one required libations he would go to Yohanan who was the officer over the seals, and give him money and receive from him a seal.

a)      Then he would go to Ahiyah who was the officer over the libations, and give him the seal, and receive from him the libations.

2)      And in the evening these two [officers] would come together, and Ahiyah would bring out the seals and receive money for their value.

a)      And if there was more [than their value] the surplus belonged to the sanctuary, but if there was less [than their value] Yohanan would pay [the loss] out of his own pocket; for the Temple has the upper hand.



Section one:  This is the process through which a person could buy his libation offerings. 

Section two:  Here we get an early description of Jewish accounting!  In the evening, after the day’s work at the Temple was done, the two officers would get together to check the accounts.  Ahiyah would take out the seals which he had received and collect the money from Yohanan.  If there was extra money then that money belonged to the Temple.  However, if there was not enough money to cover the seals, then Yohanan would have to make up the difference from his own pocket.  The mishnah notes that the Temple’s treasury has the upper hand—it can gain from someone’s mistake but not lose.  As they say—it’s good to be the Temple.