(Image by thetorpedodog)
It happens to be the case that there are two different verses in the Old Testament which provide for an approximation of pi. In the NIV translation both I Kings 7:23 and II Chronicles 4:2 give the following measurements for a tank which would be enclosed in the “First” Temple:
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.
Taking these measurements along with the ratio for pi given as circumference over diameter we have a coarse approximation for pi of 3. While not astounding in accuracy, I’m always excited to see how subtle tidbits of mathematics invade even religious scripture. In other words, sometimes math is beautifully inescapable.
In you’re interested in learning more about these two verses I suggest reading an article called “On the Rabbinical Exegesis of an Enhanced Biblical Value of Pi” written by Shlomo Edward G. Belaga. An online version of the article can be found here. The article surmises that the Biblical narrative lends itself to a much more accurate approximation of pi. It’s worth a look if you’re intrigued by such ideas.