Alma 11:5-20. Coins
While some commentators, including modern editors of the Book of Mormon, have assumed that the passage in Alma 11 refers to coins, the text itself does not say that these monetary units were coins. Before stamped coins were invented in the late sixth century BC, pieces of precious metals of varying weight were used as a medium of exchange. It is undoubtedly in this context that we must read of the Nephite monetary system. The most common unit of weight was the shekel, deriving from the verb meaning “to weigh” and first noted in the time of Abraham (Genesis 24:22). The term later denoted a coin of the prescribed weight. Most occurrences of the term shekel are in Exodus through Numbers, with the heaviest concentration in the latter book, both describing the time of Moses. The term gerah which denoted a smaller piece of money (but probably not a coin), is found only in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Ezekiel. If these were intended to be coins only, then the use of the names in books attributed to Moses would make the Bible anachronistic, too.