In the account of the Book of Chronicles in the Bible, it says: “Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” (2 Chronicles 4:2) A question has arisen: did the Bible get Pi wrong?
The mathematics in this verse seems to be incorrect at first reading. The verse says that from brim to brim, it measured ten cubits, and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round. That means the diameter was 10 cubits, while the circumference was 30 cubits. In mathematics, we calculate pi (π) as the circumference divided by the diameter.
So, = Circumference / Diameter = 30 / 10 = 3 and ≠3,1415, which is the correct value of pi (π). It is known that π = 3.1415… But 30 divided by 10 is 3 and not 3.1415…
So the math is wrong, and consequently, the Bible is flawed in that regard. Well, not really.
There are two solutions to this apparent mathematical problem. Understanding verses three to five of the same chapter is important for both solutions.
Verse five states: “And the thickness of it was a handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.” (2 Chronicles 4:5). The verse states that the thickness of it was a handbreadth. So this “problem” can be solved in two ways:
The verse says it looked like the flowers of lilies. This means that the cup may have looked like this: (see diagram)
The verse says that the thickness was a hand’s breadth. This means that the cup may have looked like this: (see diagram)
The diagonal is given from the inside and the circumference from the outside. If you now subtract two hand widths from the circumference (left and right because of the symmetry) or add two hand widths to the diagonal, then a new calculation results in exactly π = 3.1415…
So, no, the Book of Chronicles in the Bible did not get pi (π) wrong. Although the Bible was written over 2,000 years ago, it contains absolutely no errors, either scientific or historical. That alone is clear proof of the infallibility of the Bible.
See our other articles covering topics considered contradictions within the Bible: