1 Kings 7:23—Doesn’t the calculation in this verse represent an inaccurate value of pi?

Problem: According to 1 Kings 7:23, Hiram constructed a “Sea of cast bronze ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference.” From this report we learn that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is three to one. However, this is an inaccurate value of pi which is actually 3.14159.

Solution: This is not an error. The biblical record of the various measurements of the different parts of the temple are not necessarily designed to provide precise scientific or mathematical calculations. Rather, the Scripture simply provides a reasonable approximation. The rounding of numbers or the reporting of approximate values or measurements was a common practice in ancient times when exact scientific calculations were not used.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.