“The shåfīīthå of ointment, as it is written in the Gospel [Mark 14:3, Matt. 26:7], is a vessel of glass in accordance with the name; but there is in it a libra of oil by weight, and in capacity there is half a xestes. But it is called an alabastron because of the great fragility, which is like salt. For the Scripture says: ‘And it shall be broken in pieces like an alabastron’ [IV Kings 21:13]. And it is, as I have said, a vessel round in form.” (section 34)
“(As for) the shåfīthå, this is a Syriac term which occurs as a measure among the people of Gaza and Ashkelon and the rest of the seacoast called the Shefelah. Hence in Gaza and Ashkelon they call the jar which is the shåfīthå the sapation, which is translated ‘the drawing vessel of the wine press’, for with the measure they draw and carry out wine. But among the people of the Ashkelon it consists of 22 xestai, among those of Azotus 18 xestai, and among those of Gaza 15 xestai.” (section 41)
Epiphanius, writing in 392 ce.
James Elmer Dean, translator and editor.
Epiphanius' Treatise on Weights and Measures. The Syriac Version.
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1935.
Page 51 & 55. From British Museum Or. Add. 17148.
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Last revised: 8 May 2001.