Having a piece of Pi on Pi day

March 14 is traditionally Pi Day. Below is Pi out to so many places that it hurts my brain!

 (Image courtesy of NASA JPL)

(Image courtesy of NASA JPL)

This Pi Day, I thought I would give a really neat old and historical Pi story.

Pi is found in the Old Testament. In the bible, 1 Kings 7:23, 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” (See Reference 2). This simple rough measurement gives Pi = 3. This verse has been debated by many over many, many years. Some claim that it was just an approximation, but others say that “… the diameter perhaps was measured from outside, while the circumference was measured from inside” (See Reference 3).

Many mathematicians and scientists neglect a far more accurate approximation for Pi that lies deep within the mathematical “code” of the Hebrew language. In Hebrew, each letter equals a certain number, and a word's “value” is equal to the sum of its letters. It is interesting that in 1 Kings 7:23, the word “line” is written Kuf Vov Heh, but the Heh does not need to be there, and is not pronounced. With the extra letter, the word has a value of 111, but without it, the value is 106. (Kuf=100, Vov=6, Heh=5). The ratio of Pi to 3 is very close to the ratio of 111 to 106. So here approximately Pi/3 = 111/106 and if we solve for Pi, we find Pi = 3.1415094… (See Reference 3). This figure is far more accurate than any other value that had been calculated up to that point, and would hold the record for the greatest number of correct digits for several hundred years afterwards.

So have a piece of Pi today—I plan to!


1 The History of Pi, David Wilson, History of Mathematics, Rutgers University, Spring 2000

2 Blatner, David, The Joy of Pi, Walker Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1997.

3 Tsaban, Boaz and David Garber. “On the Rabbinical Approximation of pi.” Historia Mathematica 25, Article HM972185. Academic Press, 1998.

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