The shekel was properly and only a weight. It was used especially in weighing uncoined gold and silver: "The land is worth 400 shekels of silver...Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver-in the audience of the sons of Heth," Genesis 23:15,16. In such cases the word shekel is often omitted in the Hebrew, as in Genesis 20:16 37:28, where our translators have supplied the word "pieces," but improperly, because coined money was not then known. See MONEY.
Between the sacred shekel, Exodus 30:13, and the shekel after the "king’s weight," 2 Samuel 14:26, there would seem to have been a difference; but this and many think the phrase "shekel of the sanctuary" simply means a full and just shekel, according to the temple standards. The first coin, which bore the name of shekel was struck after the exile in the time of the Maccabees, and bore the inscription, Shekel of Israel. Bockh, whose authority in matters pertaining to ancient weights and measures is very high, fixes it proximately at 274 Paris grains. It is the coin mentioned in the New Testament, Matthew 26:15, etc., where our translators have rendered it by "pieces of silver."