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Then I heard what sounded like a voice in the midst of the four living beings saying, “One person’s  daily allowance of wheat for one day’s wages,

and three daily rations of barley for one day’s wages,

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but the oil and the wine should not be damaged.”

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Then I heard what sounded like a voice in the midst of the representatives of  all  living things saying,  “A person with an average income   will  only  be  able  to  buy enough good grain for one person per day;  if  he  buys  the  cheapest grain  available he will scarcely be able  to feed  three people for one day. However, while the poor will be ravaged, the rich will not be affected by this famine.”



The Greek says, “One quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” A denarius was roughly one day’s wage. A quart of grain was roughly what one person would consume in the meals of one day. Wheat was considered a better-quality grain, and barley was considered the grain of the poor. Imagine a father of a family working all day and from his efforts only being able to buy enough good quality food for one family member, or only enough mediocre food for 3 family members. That would only be enough for a couple with one child. Many families back then were in the range of four to seven children or more, thus two, three or four times what a father could support under the circumstances described in verse 6.


“But the oil and the wine should not be damaged.” While everyone did use oil and drink wine, these became out of reach financially for the poor in times of drought and famine. Down through history, times of famine or crisis have made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Unless there is the destruction of property that comes with war, money does not disappear, it just shifts hands; so the fact that a famine or crisis hurts the poor usually means it is helping the rich. That seems to be the implication of this statement about oil and wine. Not only would there be financial distress for most people, but it would be accompanied by the injustice of watching the rich get richer; like rubbing salt into a wound.