In this passage of scripture, we read about Solomon’s Bronze Laver which was a huge basin used for washing all of the temple implements, thus purifying them. This passage has been the topic of much debate.
Let’s take a look at why.
Solomon’s bronze laver was measured as being 10 cubits across (the diameter) and a line of 30 cubits around (the circumference). This makes the circumference exactly 3 times the diameter.
However, mathematically the diameter times three does not make a circle. If you remember your high school math, in order to create a circle you must multiply the diameter by the value of PI (π) which is 3.1415926. This gives you the length of the circumference needed to create a circle.
So how do we resolve this problem? Is the Scripture in error as the skeptics would quickly point out?
The solution to the problem is really quite simple when you look at the original Hebrew text. The secret is in the word LINE used to describe the circumference – the Hebrew word is spelled with two letters Qof and Vav.
Since the Hebrew language did not have separate numbers and letters as our language does, it was setup so that each letter would also have a numerical equivalent. In this case, the letter Qof = 100 and Vav=6 for a word total of 106.
Now here is where things get interesting. In 1 Kings 7:23 where the dimensions of the Bronze Laver are again described as the “line of the circumference”, the word “line” is spelled with 3 Hebrew letters instead of the original two – the 3rd letter Heh has a value of 5, so the word value is now 5 + 6 + 100 = 111.
In Hebrew, when you change the value of the word without changing the meaning, this means it is automatically supposed to be expressed as a mathematical equation. In this case, the formula is as follows: the new value (111) is supposed to be divided by the original value of (106) which gives us a new line value.
111 divided by 106 = 1.04716980320. When you times this number by 3 you get 3.14150943 .
The difference between the Biblical value and our “Computer Value for PI” 3.1415926 is only 0.00026% which is as close as you can get to the value of PI using ancient Hebrew letters. To calculate a circle you only need 3.1415 the rest is irrelevant.
In any case only the 3.1415 is necessary to calculate a circle.
Brian Sass, B.SC. Paleobiology, works in the information technology industry. He has also served as Director of Technical Development for Creation Generation. Brian has been part of two expeditions into the interior of the African rainforest in 2003 and 2004 searching for evidence of modern dinosaurs. These expeditions turned into significant missionary outreaches as he shared the gospel with a number of isolated African tribal communities.