Genesis 6:14
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
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(14) Make thee an ark.Têbâh, a word so archaic that scholars neither know its derivation, nor even to what language it belongs. It is certain, however, that it was an oblong box, not capable of sailing, but intended merely to float. In the Chaldean account of the deluge, the language everywhere is that of a maritime people: the history in Genesis is as plainly the work of a people living inland.

Of gopher wood.—Heb., trees (or beams) of gopher This is also a word which occurs nowhere else, but means the cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), a tall, upright evergreen tree, of great durability, and anciently much valued for shipbuilding.

Rooms.—Literally, nests, small cells or cabins, arranged in three tiers, so that the interlacing of the timbers might aid in holding the whole structure together.

Pitch.—That is, natural bitumen. The ark therefore must have been built in some country where this natural product is easily obtainable, as in Assyria.

6:12-21 God told Noah his purpose to destroy the wicked world by water. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, Ps 25:14. It is with all believers, enabling them to understand and apply the declarations and warnings of the written word. God chose to do it by a flood of waters, which should drown the world. As he chooses the rod with which he corrects his children, so he chooses the sword with which he cuts off his enemies. God established his covenant with Noah. This is the first place in the Bible where the word 'covenant' is found; it seems to mean, 1. The covenant of providence; that the course of nature shall be continued to the end of time. 2. The covenant of grace; that God would be a God to Noah, and that out of his seed God would take to himself a people. God directed Noah to make an ark. This ark was like the hulk of a ship, fitted to float upon the waters. It was very large, half the size of St. Paul's cathedral, and would hold more than eighteen of the largest ships now used. God could have secured Noah without putting him to any care, or pains, or trouble; but employed him in making that which was to be the means to preserve him, for the trial of his faith and obedience. Both the providence of God, and the grace of God, own and crown the obedient and diligent. God gave Noah particular orders how to make the ark, which could not therefore but be well fitted for the purpose. God promised Noah that he and his family should be kept alive in the ark. What we do in obedience to God, we and our families are likely to have the benefit of. The piety of parents gets their children good in this life, and furthers them in the way to eternal life, if they improve it.The ark. - Reckoning the cubit at 1.8 feet, we find the length to be about 540, the breadth 90, and the height 54 feet. The construction of such a vessel implies great skill in carpentry. The lighting apparatus is not described so particularly that we can form any conception of it. It was probably in the roof. The roof may have been flat. "And to a cubit shalt thou finish it above." The cubit is possibly the height of the parapet round the lighting and ventilating aperture. The opening occupied, it may be, a considerable portion of the roof, and was covered during the rain with an awning מכסה mı̂ksēh, Genesis 8:13. If, however, it was in the sides of the ark, the cubit was merely its height. It was then finished with a strong railing, which went round the whole ark, and over which the covering, above mentioned, hung down on every side. The door was in the side, and the stories were three. In each were of course many "nests" or chambers, for animals and stores. It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. Only the animals necessary to man, or unusual to the region covered by the deluge, required to be included in the ark. It seems likely that wild animals in general were not included. It is obvious, therefore, that we cannot calculate the number of animals preserved in the ark, or compare the space they would require with its recorded dimensions. We may rest assured that there was accommodation for all that needed to be there.14. Make thee an ark—ark, a hollow chest (Ex 2:3).

gopher wood—probably cypress, remarkable for its durability and abounding on the Armenian mountains.

rooms—cabins or small cells.

pitch it within and without—mineral pitch, asphalt, naphtha, or some bituminous substance, which, when smeared over and become hardened, would make it perfectly watertight.

An ark; a little ship made in the form of an ark or chest, but probably sloping at the bottom for the convenience of navigation, as it was for another reason sloping at the top.

Gopher wood: this word is but once used in Scripture, and therefore it is diversely rendered by the learned; by some pine, by many cedar, but by others cypress, a tree very proper and usual for ships, and of a firm and durable substance, and much abounding in those parts; all which appears from ancient authors.

With pitch; or rather, with some kind of bitumen, of the same nature and use with pitch, to cement the parts of the ark together, and to preserve it from the injuries of the sun, and water, and worms; but more odoriferous, to correct the unpleasant scent of some of the creatures.

Make thee an ark of Gopher wood,.... It is not called a ship, for it was not made for sailing to any distant parts, but an ark or chest, being like one, flat bottomed, and ridged and sloping upwards, and was made for floating on the waters for a little way. So Lucian (c), and other Heathen writers, call it "an ark" or "chest": this was made of "Gopher wood", which all the Targums, and the more ancient Rabbins, understand of cedar wood; some the box tree, as the Arabic version; others, the pine; others, fir; the Mahometans say it was the Indian plane tree; and others, the turpentine tree: but the cypress tree bids fairest to be the wood of which, the ark was made, as Fuller (d), Bochart (e), and others (f) have shown; that being nearest to "Gopher" in sound, and being a wood very durable and incorruptible, and fit for shipping. Alexander made a navy of cypress trees in the groves and gardens about Babylon, as Strabo (g) relates: where this ark was made, is not easy to say: some think in Palestine; others, near Mount Caucasus, on the borders of India; others, in China: but it is most likely it was near the garden of Eden, where Noah lived, and not far from Ararat, where the ark rested. Bochart (h) conjectures, that "Gopher" is the name of the place where it was made, as well as of the wood of which it was made; and that it might be Cupressetum or Cyparisson, which Strabo (i) places in Assyria. How long Noah was building the ark is variously conjectured: a Jewish (k) writer says fifty two years; and an Arabic writer (l) an hundred years; others think Noah was building it the whole one hundred and twenty years (m), the time of God's longsuffering and forbearance, which some conclude from 1 Peter 3:20 but though it would require not a few years to build such a vessel, and prepare everything necessary for the use of it, yet one would think it should not take so many years as the least account gives unto it: it may be observed, the order is, "make thou", or "for thyself" (n); for thy use and benefit, for the saving of thyself and family, as well as for the preservation of the several creatures which were for the service of him and his posterity:

rooms shalt thou make in the ark; or "nests" (o); little apartments, and many of them for the several creatures, and for their provisions, as well as for Noah and his family. The Targum of Jonathan gives us the number of them, paraphrasing the words thus,"one hundred and fifty cells shalt thou make for the ark on the left hand, and ten apartments in the middle to put food in, and five cabins on the right, and five on the left:"

and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch; it was pitched without to keep out the waters, and that they might more easily slide off, and to preserve the ark from being eat with worms, or hurt with the wind and sun; and it was pitched within, to take off the ill smell that might arise from the several creatures, as well as for the better security of the ark. Some take it to be bitumen, a sort of clay or slime like pitch, such as was used at the building of Babel, and of the walls of Babylon. De Dieu conjectures it was that kind of bitumen which the Arabs calls Kaphura, which agrees in sound with the word here used; but why not the pitch of the pine tree, or the rosin of the cypress tree, and especially the latter, if the ark was made of the wood of it (p)?

(c) De Dea Syria. (d) Miscellan. Sacr. l. 4. c. 5. (e) Phaleg. l. 1. c. 4. Colossians 22, 23. (f) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 1. p. 35. (g) Geograph, l. 16. p. 510. (h) Ut supra. (Phaleg. l. 1. c. 4. Colossians 22, 23.) (i) Ib. p. 508. (k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (l) Elmacinus, p. 11. apud Hottinger, Smegma, l. 1. c. 8. p. 249. (m) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 1, 2.((n) "tibi", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (o) "nidos", Pagninus, Montanus. (p) Vid. Scheuchzer. p. 35.

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
14. an ark] The word here used, têbâh, is only found in this passage and in Exodus 2:3-5. It is of foreign origin; according to some, an Egyptian word; according to others, derived from the Assyrian. LXX κιβωτός, Lat. arca, which our translators adopted and transliterated. The “ark” of the Covenant (e.g. Exodus 25:10) is another Heb. word, ’arôn, but unfortunately rendered also by LXX κιβωτός, Lat. arca.

gopher wood] A word only used here. “Gopher” is said to be a resinous coniferous tree, possibly the “cypress” (cuparissus), to which word it may be akin.

The versions, not realizing that it was a botanical description, made wild guesses at the meaning. Thus LXX ἐκ ξύλων τετραγώνων = “of squared beams”: so, Vet. Lat. ligna quadrata, Vulg. ligna laevigata.

rooms] The meaning is obvious. The interior of the ark was to consist of cabins, or cubicles. The sentence would be rendered literally, “nests shalt thou make the ark.” Vulg. mansiunculas.

pitch] Heb. kopher, a word only found here in the Bible, and its resemblance in pronunciation to “gopher” (see above), is, to say the least, strange. The Assyrian word for bitumen is kupru, and that word is used in the Babylonian account, in which the hero of the Flood is made to say, “Six sars of bitumen (kupru) I spread over it for caulking.” The word suggests (1) that there is some connexion of the Hebrew story with the Babylonian version, (2) that the region was the Euphrates Valley in which bitumen was freely obtainable. The word in Exodus 2:3 is not kopher, but khêmar, which is also found in Genesis 11:3; Genesis 14:10.

Verse 14. - Make thee an ark. תֵּבַת, constr. of תֵּבָה, etymology unknown (Gesenius); of Shemitic origin, from תָּבָה, to be hollow (Furst); of Egyptian derivation, a boat being called tept (Keil, Kalisch, Knobel); from the Sanskrit pota, a pot or boat (Bohlen); "a peculiar archaic term for a very unusual thing, like מַבּוּל, the term for the Flood itself" (T. Lewis); translated κιβωτός θίβη (LXX.), area (Vulgate), λάρναξ (Nicolas Damaseenus), πλοῖον (Berosus); not a ship in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but a box or chest (cf. Exodus 2:3) capable of floating on the waters. "Similar vessels, generally, however, drawn by horses or men, were and are still used in some parts of Europe and Asia" (Kalisch). Of gopher wood. Literally, woods of gopher (גֹפֶר: ἅπαξ λεγ.., the root of which, like כפר, seams to signify to cover (Kalisch); ligna bituminata (Vulgate); pitch trees, resinous trees, such as are used in ship-building (Gesenius); most likely cypress, κυπάρισσος (Bochart, Celsius, Keil), which was used "in some parts of Asia exclusively as the material for ships, in Athens for coffins, and in Egypt for mummy cases" (Kaliseh). "It is said too that the gates of St. Peter's Church at Rome (made of this wood), which lasted from the time of Constantine to that of Eugene IV., 1. a 1100 years, had in that period suffered no decay" (Bush). Rooms - kinnim, nests, applied metaphorically to the chambers of the ark - shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. וְכָפַרְתָּ בַּכֹּפֶר: literally, shalt cover it with a covering. The substance to be employed was probably bitumen or asphalt (ἄσφαλτος, LXX.; bitumen, Vulgate). The root (cf. English, cover) signifies also to pardon sin, i.e. to cover them from God's sight (Psalm 65:3; Psalm 78:38; 2 Chronicles 30:18), and to make expiation for sin, i.e. to obtain covering for them (Genesis 32:20; Daniel 9:24); whence gopher is used for a ransom (Exodus 21:30; Exodus 30:12), and cap-poreth, the covering of the ark (Exodus 25:17), for the mercy-seat (ἱλαστήριον, LXX.; propitiatorium, Vulgate). Genesis 6:14Noah was exempted from the extermination. He was to build an ark, in order that he himself, his family, and the animals might be preserved. תּבה, which is only used here and in Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5, where it is applied to the ark in which Moses was placed, is probably an Egyptian word: the lxx render it κίβωτος here, and θίβη in Exodus; the Vulgate arca, from which our word ark is derived. Gopher-wood (ligna bituminata; Jerome) is most likely cypress. The ἁπ. λεγ. gopher is related to כּפר, resin, and κυπάρισσος; it is no proof to the contrary that in later Hebrew the cypress is called berosh, for gopher belongs to the pre-Hebraic times. The ark was to be made cells, i.e., divided into cells, קנּים (lit., nests, niduli, mansiunculae), and pitched (כּפר denom. from כּפר) within and without with copher, or asphalte (lxx ἄσφαλτος, Vulg. bitumen). On the supposition, which is a very probable one, that the ark was built in the form not of a ship, but of a chest, with flat bottom, like a floating house, as it was not meant for sailing, but merely to float upon the water, the dimensions, 300 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high, give a superficial area of 15,000 square cubits, and a cubic measurement of 450,000 cubits, probably to the ordinary standard, "after the elbow of a man" (Deuteronomy 3:11), i.e., measured from the elbow to the end of the middle finger.
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