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I don't know if this this is the correct place to ask so please do whatever is necessary.

1 Kings 7:15 says that the pillars are eighteen cubits high.

2 Chronicles 3:15 says a different number.

Who is right here?

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  • Just like many "non-modern" units of measurement, the unit "cubit" had different meanings in different countries. (An US "mile", a British "mile" and a nautical "mile" are still different, today.) According to the German Wikipedia, a cubit was 939 millimeters in Turkey and 457 millimeters in India. 18 Turkish cubits would be equal to 37 Indian cubits. Are you sure that the authors of Kings and Chronicles are talking about the same unit?
    – Martin Rosenau
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 13:41
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    @MartinRosenau two different units, especially to that degree would be unlikely given that other details (e.g. the "chapiters") are described in both chapters with the same size (5 cubits).
    – eques
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 14:01
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    The odd but sensible explanation would be that 2 Chronicles is describing the total height (it lacks a word like "each" unlike 2 Kings)
    – eques
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 14:02
  • @eques This works as long as it is assumed that each pillar had .5 cubits of pillar base work. Subtracting both of these would give 35 total height for the pillars.
    – user21676
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 21:05
  • Yea. I was summarizing. There was an explanation along that line in the commentary within my Bible
    – eques
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 21:13

1 Answer 1

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These are different types of measurements. 2 Chron is a summary of 1 Kings, which provides more details (more measurements).

In 1 Kings 7.15:

He cast the two pillars out of bronze; eighteen cubits was the height of the first, and a cord of twelve cubits would encircle the second pillar.

"height" here is "qomath" and refers to vertical height, or size (sometimes also depth).

In 2 Chron 3.15:

And at the front of the house he made two columns, thirty-five cubits high, and the capital on their top was five cubits.

"high" here is "orekh" and refers to length, or extension and is never used to mean "height". The issue here is we don't know exactly which conventions were being used to a assign a single number to a circular column, but the most popular guess is that it was circumference + height.

The pillar had a circumference of 12 cubits ("a cord of twelve cubits would encircle the second pillar.").

total height + circumference = (18 for column + 5 for capital) + 12 = 35. This is a summary measurement of the "length" of a three dimensional object, whereas in 1 Kings, we actually get the measurements in each dimension (including the circumference).

Of course this popular interpretation could be wrong, and there might have been a different convention used by the Chronicler to assign a single number to the "length" of a pillar, but what we do know is that 2 Chronicles summarizes the total length (in all dimensions) whereas 1 Kings provides the measurements in each dimension.

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