Tag Archives: Midrash Tadshe

The Watchers & the Book of Jubilees

A deep dive into the eye-opening ancient Book of Jubilees. Along the way, we unravel the story of Enoch and the mysterious “Watchers” and fallen angels in the pre-Flood generations, the difference between Nephilim and Anakim, how Jubilees envisions the End of Days, and what really happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

For lots more information on Nephilim and Anakim, please see here.
For more on Jubilees, see here.
The class on Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel
Part One and Part Two of this series on the Apocrypha.

Secrets of Pi

This week’s conjoined Torah portions of Vayak’hel and Pekudei conclude the description of the Mishkan’s construction. The Haftarah for Pekudei is a passage from the seventh chapter of I Kings (the exact verses vary by community) describing King Solomon’s construction of the Jerusalem Temple. One of the most breathtaking structures standing in front of the Temple was the “Molten Sea”, a large bathtub for the kohanim to immerse in (as per Rashi and II Chronicles 4:6). The Tanakh describes that the bath was circular, sitting upon a base of twelve oxen statues, and had a total depth of five cubits, roughly ten feet. It held a volume of alpayim bat, “two thousand baths” of water (I Kings 7:26). In fact, the Hebrew bat (בת) is likely the etymology for the English word “bath”!

Illustration of the First Jerusalem Temple, or Solomon’s Temple, with the Molten Sea on the right.

What’s most perplexing in the description is that we are told the diameter of the circular tub was 10 cubits, yet its circumference was 30 cubits. Throughout history, many have pointed out that this seems to be an error! We all know that the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is π or Pi, which is 3.1415926 (and so on). So, the Tanakh should have said that the diameter was 10 cubits and the circumference was 31 or 31 and a half cubits. How do we solve this puzzle, and what deeper significance does Pi hold in the Torah?

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