Revelation In Space: Bible Data:

In modern mathematical calculations pi, which denotes the ration of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is generally a quantity equivalent to 3.1416. It is actually more accurate to say that pi can be carried to at least eight decimal places, which would be 3.14159265, though even 3.1415926535 can be used.

Bible skeptics often conclude that the writers of 1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chronicles 4:2, where the circular molten sea in the courtyard of Solomon's temple was ten cubits from brim to brim and that "it took a line of thirty cubits to circle all around it" can't be correct because it is impossible to have a circle with these two values. How, the skeptic asks, could God's word being written under inspiration be so inaccurate?

The decimal point didn't exist at the time; it wasn't until about 250 BCE that Archimedes discovered a method to approximate the value of pi by using polygons inscribed and circumscribed around a circle by calculating the perimeters of these polygons using them as upper and lower bounds for the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of the circle.

Before that the circumference of a circle was always measured in straight lines by the radius; and Hiram would naturally describe the sea as thirty cubits round, measuring it, as was then invariably the practice, by its radius, or semi diameter, of five cubits, which being applied six times round the perimeter, or 'brim,' would give the thirty cubits stated. The Bible only gave the dimensions of the Sea, in the usual language that everyone would understand, measuring the circumference in the way in which all skilled workers, like Hiram, did measure circles at that time. (2 Chronicles 2:13-14) He would have been aware that as the polygonal hexagon thus inscribed by the radius was thirty cubits, the actual curved circumference would be somewhat more.

The molten sea was 10 cubits (15 feet) in diameter and it took a line of 30 cubits (45 feet) to encompass it. A ratio of one to three was adequate for the sake of a record.

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