RE: PI in the Bible

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Tue Oct 17 2000 - 01:32:47 MDT

We have all heard the story about the Alabama legislature passing a law
making the value of pi equal to 3 because it is in the bible. This is an
urban legend and has been debunked many times. The closest event in reality
occurred when the Indiana legislature actually tried to set pi to its
accurate value for legal purposes in 1897.

We also have all heard that the bible actually does set the value of pi to
3. I have looked this up and find this to be false. The actual verse
describes a basin 10 cubits across and 30 cubits around. This would make pi
= 3 if a circle's circumference was 3 times its diameter.

The diameter should have been 0.45 cubits (or 8.1 inches) shorter to make pi
come out accurately. However, this is a huge basin 15 feet (or 10 cubits)
across. Its diameter was measured "from lip to lip" of the basin. If the
lips added 4 inches (or 0.225 cubits) on each side, the measurements would
be accurate. A 4 inch lip on a 15 foot basin is not unlikely. As far as I
can tell, there is no discrepancy in these measurements.

The exact quote from I Kings 7:23 is here, with each Hebrew word replaced by
its equivalent English word or phrase:

        And he made the casted sea ten, by the cubit, from its lip to its lip,
round all about, and five, by the cubit, its height, and a line, thirty by
the cubit, around went it round about,...

Harvey Newstrom, Security Testing Practice Leader, Fiderus
Phone:321-676-4894 Tollfree:866-FIDERUS Mobile:321-258-4809 FAX:321-676-5707
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