What is gopher wood?


Clarify Share Report Asked August 13 2015 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Hebrew word gopher is used only once in the Bible when God commanded Noah to "make yourself an ark of gopher wood" (Genesis 6:14, ESV). Because no one today knows what "gopher wood" is-Noah obv...

August 13 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
There are a number of suggestions as to the identity of ‘gopher wood’ used for building the ark. The proposal of cypress and other woods is not strong enough to identify them as such. But it may not be the type of wood, but a process that should be investigated.

In most versions, the word ‘gopher’ is transliterated from the Hebrew, appearing just this once in Genesis 6:14. It is not likely that it is an error of spelling of ‘kopher’ meaning ‘pitch.’ 

Strong’s Lexicon says it is “from an unused root, probably meaning to house in.” This may give an idea of how the ark was built. The rooms, literally ‘nests,’ could be a series of pens or boxes, built in or housed in.

But there may be more to it. Some dictionaries define ‘gopher’ as fabricating layers such as the honeycombed pattern or layers of biscuits. It could be layers of paper glued together or layers or pleats of fabric as lace in the making of dresses. Variations of the word are ‘gofer,’ ‘gaufre,’ ‘goffer,’ and ‘gauffer.’ ‘Gopher’ could then refer to the structural technique of lamination by narrow strips to make layers or wafers. 

The ark could have been built by lamination, a well-known ancient process. Pitch or resin, the sap that is boiled from certain trees such as pine not only is an effective waterproof and impact resistant sealant, but also serves as glue. This could explain how the ark would be sturdily constructed with its immense dimensions. At minimum, the ark measured 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet tall. It is more likely the royal cubit of 20 or 20.4 inches was used which would make the ark about 515 feet long, 85.8 feet wide and 51.5 feet high. 

There may be other clues. The Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the word ‘tetragonos’ meaning ‘four-cornered’ as in beams. The Vulgate (the Latin version) has ‘planed wood.’ It may be supposed that laminated planed wood into beams could have been used in the construction of the huge ark. 

One must think of the logistics of building an ark that size. The job would entail harvesting timber, making pitch and glue, and the actual construction. This way Noah and his three sons could build the ark without outside help, which is not probable. Who would be crazy and foolish enough to help build something for an unlikely coming great flood?

Genesis 6:3 gives the first hint of judgment to take place in 120 years. When Noah was 500 years of age, he begot his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, Genesis 5:32. Noah was instructed to build an ark, Genesis 6:14, maybe when his sons were old enough. ‘Noah and sons’ had many decades to work on this continuous construction job, I Peter 3:20, until in Noah’s 600th year the flood came, Genesis 7:6. At that time, eight people, the three sons having married, boarded the ark and were saved.

February 07 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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