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Biblical mile (Hebrew: מיל, romanized: mīl) is a unit of distance on land, or linear measure, principally used by Jews during the Herodian dynasty to ascertain distances between cities and to mark the Sabbath limit, equivalent to about ⅔ of an English statute mile, or what was about four furlongs (four stadia). The basic Jewish traditional unit of distance was the cubit (Hebrew: אמה), each cubit being roughly between 46–60 centimetres (18–24 in) The standard measurement of the biblical mile, or what is sometimes called tǝḥūm šabbat (Sabbath limit; Sabbath boundary), was 2,000 cubits.
The word mīl, as used in Hebrew texts between the 2nd and 5th centuries CE, is a Roman loanword, believed to be a shortened adaptation of the Latin mīliarium, literally meaning, "milestone," and which word signifies "a thousand" [passuum <paces> of two steps each]; hence: Roman mile. The word appears in the Mishnah, a compendium of Jewish oral law compiled by Rabbi Judah the Prince in 189 CE, and is used to this very day by religious Jews in the application of certain halachic laws.
Nearly two thousand years of Jewish exile from the Land of Israel have given rise to disputes over the precise length of the biblical mile observed by the ancients. Some hold the biblical mile to be 1,152 m, while others hold it to be 960 m, depending on the length they prescribe to each cubit. Originally, the 2,000 cubit Sabbath limit was measured with a standard 50-cubit rope.
Another dispute is the actual time it takes for an average man to walk a biblical mile. Most authorities hold that a biblical mile can be traversed in 18 minutes; four biblical miles in 72 minutes. Elsewhere, however, Maimonides held the view that an average man walks a biblical mile in about 20 to 24 minutes.
|Avraham Chaim Naeh||48 centimetres (19 in)||960 metres (3,150 ft)|
|Chazon-Ish||57.6 centimetres (22.7 in)||1,152 metres (3,780 ft)|
|Ḏerāʿ (Egyptian cubit)||52.9 or 52.3 cm ||1,058 metres (3,471 ft)|
...and the time needed for it [to leaven] is what it takes for a person to walk by foot in an average pace one [biblical] mile, and that being what it takes for two-fifths of an hour (i.e. 24 minutes) of those standard hours [to pass by]. According to this view, a man traverses 4 biblical miles in one hour and 36 minutes.