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Math Error Drowns Priests!

A funny note on the need for English AND Math education

To  Educators, Pastors, Engineers, and other Bible lovers ... 

I like to read the excellent, "essentially literal" ESV - English Standard Version.  I'm keeping up with the reading schedule in the back (an excellent reading plan - download your own here - read through the entire Bible and TWICE through the Psalms, Isaiah, Luke, and Romans).  God is doing a work in my life.  Of course, this is not because of a particular translation, but because of more time in His word.  Though it does seem to "sink in" better!

You might be interested in my note to Crossway on a translation error.  Though an otherwise excellent translation, this ESV translator
was evidently out playing ball during their math class.**  Though it's interesting for those who like geometry, it's also FUNNY since I'm a safety officer (read to the last paragraph of my note).

**If YOU happen to be the translator or editor - please excuse my kidding around.  We home school, and I can't wait to show my daughter how "smart" she is in geometry.  Regarding your translation work, or any work that people do anywhere, I know that such little things happen.  You did a fantastic job!  THANK YOU.

Oh ... by the way, you really don't have to point out all the grammatical errors on this page.  I'm not too swift in English, much less Hebrew.  Shalom.

HEADLINE: "ESV Translation Error DROWNS Priests!"

Dear Crossway Publishers:

I really like reading the ESV - I'm using the reading plan in the back.  Much more literal than the NIV.  "Sinks in" better than the KJV - though I still love the KJV for its beauty and literalness.

I'm pretty sure you chose the wrong way (of two valid ways) to translate 1 Kings 7:24 and 2 Chronicles 4:3 regarding the "sea" that the priests wash in.  You've introduced something illogical and contradictory that doesn't have to be there.  You've said that the sea was 30 cubits around in the previous verse, then said it was only 10 cubits around in the verse I mention.

INCORRECT:  "Under its brim were gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around."

CORRECT:   "Under its brim were gourds, ten TO A cubit, compassing the sea all around."  (or "ten IN A cubit" or "ten PER cubit," etcetera).

It seems to me that God is saying how many gourds PER cubit to put in that decorative band that goes all the way around (10 per cubit), and not repeating again the total distance around the sea (which MUST be about 30 cubits).  He is speaking of the "density" of the decoration, not the length of the band.

10 cubits around is impossible since the sea is 10 cubits ACROSS (diameter) and therefore must be about 30 cubits around (circumference) - and the previous verse states it plainly as such.

The only way the translation could be correct would be if the sea was a cone shape with sides sloping sharply in toward the bottom.  But that would be a death trap for priests - they would DROWN since they would keep sliding down to the bottom of the bowl and couldn't get to the edge to get out!  Your drawings don't show a cone, and I think your drawings are correct, and the other translations are correct.

Please note that I am a Safety Officer -- that's why I thought about those poor priests if the sea were designed according to the English ESV!

Sure, this is not a big error (unless you are a priest), but seeing how people like to make much out of little, it would be great if you would correct this.


(WOW! -  I received TWO gracious notes of thanks from real people at Crossway within hours!  They said that they gave my suggestion to the right person.  I told one of them I would get a real "kick" out of showing my daughter this verse someday and saying, "see Honey, here's the verse that Daddy did!" ... Wycliffe here I come.)