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Answering The Atheist
June 19, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 25

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
What was the volume of the molten sea in Solomon's temple? 1 Kings 7:26 says it was 2000 baths, but 2 Chronicles 4:5 says it was 3000 baths. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
A bath is a measurement, equal to an ephah during the time of Ezekiel, approximately 5 gallons (Ezekiel 45:11). Why the difference between the volume reported in 1 Kings and that which is reported in 2 Chronicles? There are a couple possibilities.

1) Since 2 Chronicles is written after the Babylonian captivity, it may be that the reference in 2 Chr 4:5 is to a Babylonian bath, rather than a Jewish bath. In like manner, a Jewish cubit and a Babylonian cubit differed, as the Babylonians did not include the palm. For a modern day example, consider that a US gallon is smaller than the Imperial gallon, as is the case also with the US pint and the Imperial pint.

Also, the solution may be so simple as paying closer attention to the wording. 1 Kings 7:26 merely says that the molten sea "contained two thousand baths". Is that it's limit, or is it simply a statement of how much was customarily stored in it? 2 Chronicles 4:5 plainly reveals the limit of the molten sea, as "it received and held three thousand baths".

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible