In one of his early comedy routines, Bill Cosby has God telling Noah to build an ark:
God: Make it 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits.
Noah: Right… What’s a cubit?
What’s a cubit? The value of this ancient measure had become lost. Even so late as 1894, J. Ralston Skinner asserted that even the source of the cubit’s derivation yet remained a mystery. In his book, Key to the Hebrew-Egyptian Mystery in the Source of Measures (available from kessinger.net), Ralston showed how various people had by then (1894) estimated the value of the cubit, but how had the cubit value itself originated? Why had a particular measure called the cubit been chosen?
Isaac Newton, a fervent student of Alchemy and the Bible, ascertained the cubit to have been 20.604 inches (1.717… feet). The Egyptologist Gustav Seyffarth found a papyrus scroll in which the cubit measures of rooms in the catacombs of Osymandia were recorded. From this, Seyffarth compared actual measurements taken at Osymandia with the recorded cubit measurements. Seyffarth found that 20.61113988 inches equaled a cubit.
But why had such a particular measure been chosen to be the cubit? The cubit had to have been based upon something. What was that something?
Circa 1851, delving into the ancient problem of squaring the circle, John A. Parker of New York City is said to have found his own quadrature value. Parker’s value was 6561 for diameter and 20612 for circumference. (Background: “Pi Is Wrong!”, Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of August 11, 2013) This Parker ratio of 20612: 6561 may have formed the basis for the cubit measure. Of course, in one sense, “squaring the circle” cannot be done. But Parker had approached the problem from not a linear but a spatial perspective. His book, Quadrature of the Circle (currently available via the “Google Books”), painstakingly describes his method.
Given the 20612 circumference of the Parker ratio, and considering that number as inches, if you divide by 1000 you get 20.612 inches. And that is the value of the cubit!
There are implications in all this that, long ago, the ancient Egyptians and/or Hebrews must have solved the “squaring the circle” problem, and that the cubit measure was one of the results stemming from this.