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"Pi" and More in Torah

The Bible and the Value of "PI"

Does the Bible contain a mathematical error?  Not at all!

  Biblical Value of Pi 

1.0471698, which multiplied by 3 is pi.  "1047" in the Old Testament lexicon can be transliterated as "pi."  Hence, "house of pi."  Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.

Solomon and the Molten Sea

pi in the bible

In describing the temple that King Solomon built for the King of Kings, several articles of furniture are described.  One of these pieces is “a molten sea.”   II Chronicles 4:2 reads thus, “Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.”  A supposed discrepancy has arisen from this passage concerning the mathematical accuracy of the Bible.  The value of π (pi) is known to be equal to the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter, 

The aforementioned scripture states that the molten sea was “ten cubits from brim to brim” and “a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about;” thus, its diameter was 10 cubits, and its circumference 30 cubits.  Dividing this circumference of 30 by a diameter of 10 gives a value of exactly 3.  This is where the questions arise.   It is commonly known that the value of π is approximately 3.14159265358979. In fact, this value has been proven so exactly, that its value is known to hundreds of thousands of digits. 

Why then does the Bible appear to give the value of π to be 3?  A diameter of 10 cubits should yield a circle having a circumference of more that 31.4 cubits--not 30 cubits.  Is the Bible just rounding things off?  Are the Biblical values just approximate and not really exact?  If we see here that the scripture is not exact, what other passages also contain words that cannot be received with complete accuracy? 

1 Kings 7:26 It [the above mentioned metal pool] was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.

If the diameter of this bowl was 10 cubits, then the circumference should have been 31.415926 cubits, and not just 30 cubits!  Any math student will tell you that the circumference of a circle is found by taking the diameter times Pi (3.14159265358979...), is commonly approximated by 22/7 if great accuracy is not needed.   Is this an error?  Think again. The answer is so simple!

The diameter of 10 cubits is from outer rim to outer rim, the way anyone would measure a circular object.  The circumference of 30 cubits, however, was of the inner circle, after subtracting the thickness of the brass (two handbreadths—one for each side) from which the bowl was made.  This would be the number needed to calculate the volume of water.

    the house of pi  

line of thirty cubits did compass it round about

calculation of pi =

(30 x 18) / [(10 x 18) - (2 x 4.05)] = 540 / (180 - 8.10) = 3.1413613 = 3.1414

Let's compare our calculated value of 3.1414 to the real value of "pi", which is 3.1415927. Actually, the parameters given in 1 Kings 7:23-26 gives a direct value for "pi" that is within 2 parts in 10,000, which is fairly accurate. Since the outside diameter of the sea is 10 cubits, what is the inside diameter?

inside diameter = circumference / pi = 30 / 3.1415927 = 9.5493 cubits

And, since the inside circumference is 30 cubits, what is the outside circumference?

outside circumference = diameter x pi = 10 x 3.1415927 = 31.4159 cubits.

God makes no mistakes, mathematical or otherwise. The Scriptures do not contain error.  By the way, Solomon built this sea in 1000 B.C., long before the Greeks rediscovered Pi (p).  We may not understand some things at first glance, but the problem is with us, not with the Bible. 

Ancient standards of measure vary widely, a cubit is generally taken to be about 18 inches, although there are different types of cubits ("common" and "royal", varying from 17 to 22 inches). A handbreadth is taken to be about 3 inches, sometimes being defined as one-sixth of a cubit.

 Something else to ponder:

First, mathematically, take the etymology of the words hehvawquof and vawquof (the Hebrew word used in this verse, versus the usual word for circumference), and you'll find that the ratio of their numeric value (via Gametria) [(5 + 6 + 100)/(6 + 100)] is 1.0471698, which multiplied by 3 is pi

Just for the heck of it look up word number "1047" in the Old Testament lexicon.  It is "Beth Peor", spelled beth peor.  Beth is translated "house of," and the first three letters of the last portion, peh, ayin, vaw could very easily be transliterated as "pi."  Hence, "house of pi."  Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.

 Others in the Bible

(Most compiled by Dr. Henry M. Morris, Defender’s Bible)


Phenomenon or Process




The power of "Pi" (click link)


II Chronicles 4:2

1 Kings 7:23-26

Also note: 1.0471698, which multiplied by 3 is pi.  "1047" in the Old Testament lexicon can be transliterated as "pi."  Hence, "house of pi."  Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.


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