Were King Solomon’s Pillars Hexagonal?
By Brother Alan Bergin BSc – Spain
Winner of The Northampton Award, the overall prize for the best paper in 2007
Brethren, we are all aware of the two great pillars at the entrance or porchway to King Solomon’s Temple. We have to use our imagination as to what they looked like, because no photographs or pictures exist. Their dimensions are found in the bible in 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles. There are discrepancies from the different sources as to their height dimensions from between seventeen and a half cubits to thirty-five cubits. However all of the sources denote that the pillars other dimensions, length and breadth were the same and it is in these dimensions that there is an even greater problem.
Any person who has studied some form of mathematics must realise that these dimensions are impossible.
Quoting from the second degree tracing board, “their circumference twelve, their diameter four” How is this possible the question is to be asked? Any person who has studied some form of mathematics, must have come across circles and their properties and therefore must realise that these dimensions are impossible. The Greek letter Pi (Π) (3.142 approximately) is used as the ratio between diameters and circumferences. A diameter of 4 multiplied by 3.142 does not equal 12, nor does 12 divided by 3.142 equal 4, but scripture does not lie. So how can we find a solution to this problem?
We have this anomaly, possibly because we all assume that the pillars were circular. We perambulate round the lodge, but we square it! If we say we are walking round to the shop, or going round the houses are we going in acircle? No, we are merely describing a path that starts and ends at the same point. So what if the two Pillars were not circular? Now that makes you think!
So what shape could they be? You can’t have a square, a diameter of 4 would produce a circumference of 16, nor does a triangle compute. What other information can we use to help us solve this problem? The chapiters on pillars were adorned with pomegranates and lilies. What significance does this have to the pillar’s dimensions you may ask? All lilies have got six petals i.e. six sides.
Never forget that the pillars are symbols, and a sign of brotherly love.
What shape do we know that has six sides? The answer, brethren is a hexagon. A hexagon fits all of the above criteria. It can have a diameter of four with a circumference of 12. If each face or side of the hexagon has a length of 2, this gives a circumference of 12. Also mathematics proves that this diameter is 4 from point to point. A hexagon also starts and ends in the same point hence “circular”.
We must remember that these pillars were made. It would certainly have been a lot easier to manufacture a hexagonal mould and to make a casting of molten brass thereof, than to have made a circular one. This is by no means a way of saying that the pillars were hexagonal, but it is certainly a possibility. Never forget that the pillars are symbols, and a sign of brotherly love – whatever shape they may have been.
The Bible: 1st Kings & 2nd Chronicles
Second Degree Tracing Board Lecture