CUBIT (ku'bit), (Heb. am-maw'; Gr. r'lxvs, tay'khoos, the forearm), a word derived imme diately from the Latin cubitus, the lower arm.
The length of the cubit has varied in different nations, and at different times. Derived as the measure is from a part of the human body, and as the human stature has been of very dissimilar length, the cubit must of necessity have been va rious. That the cubit animal', among the He brews was derived as a measure from the human body, is clear from Deut. :t t—'after the cubit of a man.' But it is difficult to determine whether this cubit was understood as extending to the wrist or the end of the third finger. As however the latter seems most natural, since men, when ignorant of anatomy, and seeking in their own frames standards of measure, were likely to take both the entire foot and the entire fore-arm, the probability is that the longer was the original cu bit, namely, the length from the elbow to the extremity of the longest finger. The Egyptian cu bit, which it is likely the Hebrews would adopt, consisting of six hand-breadths, is found on the ruins of Memphis (Journal des Savans, 1822, Nov. Dec. Comp. Herod. ii:149). The Rabbins also (Mischn.Chelint. xvii :9) assign six hand-breadths to the Mosaic cubit. By comparing Josephus (Antiq. iii :6, 5) with Exod. xxv :io, it will, more over, be found that the weight of his authority is in the same scale. According to him, a cubit is equal to two spans. Now, a span is equal to three hand-breadths (Schmidt, Bib. Mathemat. p. 117; Eisen-Schmidt, De Pondcribus, p. t to) ; a cubit
therefore is equal to six hand-breadths. The hand-breadth is found as a measure in t Kings vii :26 (Comp. Jer. :21). In the latter passage the finger-breadth is another measure. The span also occurs Exod. xxviii :16. So that, it appears, measures of length were, for the most part, bor rowed by the Hebrews from members of the hu man body. Still no absolute and invariable stand ard presents itself. If the question, What is a hand or a finger-breadth? be asked, the answer can be only an approximation to fact. If, how ever, the palm or hand-breadth is taken at three and a half inches, then the cubit will amount to twenty-one inches.
In addition to the common cubit, the Egyp tians had a longer one of six palms—four inches. The Hebrews also have been thought to have had a longer cubit ; for, in Ezek. x1:5, we read of a cubit which seems to be an ordinary 'cubit and an hand-breadth ;' see also Ezek. xliii ;t3, where it is expressly said 'the cubit is a cubit and an hand-breadth.' The prophet has been supposed to refer here to the then current Babylonian cubit--a measure which it is thought the Jews borrowed during the period of their captivity.
In the New Testament, our Lord characteris tically employs the term cubit (Matt. vi :27; Luke xii :25) for the enforcement of a moral and spir itual lesson. The term also occurs in John xxi: 8, and in Rev. xxi :17. In Lev. xix :35, justice in measures, as well as in weights, is strictly en joined.