“And I heard a voice in the midst of the foure beastes say, A measure of wheate for a penie, and three measures of barley for a penie, and see thou hurt not the oyle and the wine.”
1611 King James Version (KJV)
6:6 And I heard a voice - It seems, from God himself. Saying - To the horseman, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther. Let there be a measure of wheat for a penny - The word translated measure, was a Grecian measure, nearly equal to our quart. This was the daily allowance of a slave. The Roman penny, as much as a labourer then earned in a day, was about sevenpence halfpenny English. According to this, wheat would be near twenty shillings per bushel. This must have been fulfilled while the Grecian measure and the Roman money were still in use; as also where that measure was the common measure, and this money the current coin. It was so in Egypt under Trajan. And three measures of barley for a penny - Either barley was, in common, far cheaper among the ancients than wheat, or the prophecy mentions this as something peculiar. And hurt not the oil and the wine - Let there not be a scarcity of everything. Let there he some provision left to supply the want of the rest This was also fulfilled in the reign of Trajan, especially in Egypt, which lay southward from Patmos. In this country, which used to be the granary of the empire, there was an uncommon dearth at the very beginning of his reign; so that he was obliged to supply Egypt itself with corn from other countries. The same scarcity there was in the thirteenth year of his reign, the harvest failing for want of the rising of the Nile: and that not only in Egypt, but in all those other parts of Afric, where the Nile uses to overflow.
Re 6:6 A measure of wheat was about a quart, and the penny about sixteen cents, which would make the wheat worth about $5 per bushel; or, if it be borne in mind that one dollar in that age would usually purchase as $5 now, the wheat would be about $25 per bushel in the modern currency. "Bread by weight" always implies scarcity. See Le 26:26 Eze 4:16,17. The prices named also signify the same. Hurt not the oil and the wine. Oil and wine, though common foods, are entirely prohibited. An age of war, mourning, calamity and famine is certainly symbolized.