In 1 Kings 7:23 (see also 2 Chronicles 4:2), a large circular vessel is described in the temple complex in Jerusalem, built by King Solomon about 900 B.C. Called the Sea, the metal container is described as 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits around. For any circle of diameter d and circumference C (C=pd), the ratio C/d is the constant pi, p = 3.14. However, the C and d ratio for Solomon’s vessel gives C/d = 30/10 = 3. Critics therefore claim that scripture gives an incorrect value for p, exactly 3 instead of 3.14, an error of nearly 5 percent (Meritt, n.d.).

There are at last three possible explanations for this apparent discrepancy. First, the diameter and circumference values in 1 Kings 7:23 may be rounded off and approximate, a common practice still today. Second, the vessel may not have been perfectly circular. If made with a slightly elliptical shape, the scripture numbers would not be expected to give p exactly. Third, the stated diameter may have been an outside measurement, with the circumference measured from inside the container….

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