What did Noah Built the Ark Out Of?

How He Built An Ark

14 “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.” – Genesis 6:14

In Genesis 6:14, God commanded Noah to build an Ark of Gofer (or Gopher) wood. Interestingly, this word is used nowhere else in the scripture nor is it a Hebrew word. Many people mistakenly attribute this type of wood to an animal by the same name, but it is entirely unrelated. Also, many modern translations of the Bible translate the word to mean cypress. While possible (cypress was once abundant in Armenia and Chaldea), there is no solid evidence to indicate that cypress wood was used.

Some theologians, including the Jewish Encyclopedia, have considered whether this was a translation was Babylonian in nature. Some other suggestions have been:

  • A tree that is no longer in existence
  • Related to “kopher” which refers to pitch and would include pin, cedar, fir, ebony and other woods.
  • The Arabic kufa, which was a type of boat made from willow branches and palm leaves.

It’s possible that the term gopher was used to explain the method used to prepare the wood for use in the construction of the Ark. In Genesis 6:14, the words gopher and ‘ets’ (the Hebrew wood for wood) could mean ‘planed wood’ or ‘square beams’.

The type of tree which provided the wood for the Ark is only one part of the equation. Bear in mind that the production of Noah’s Ark took place over the course of 70 years and the wood would have to be able to float easily. It didn’t require speed in the water, simply the means to float without capsizing or sinking.

This was no small boat and to survive a flood of the magnitude promised by God in Genesis 6:17-21 would require a strong foundation. Noah’s Ark had the same weight in tons as the Titanic, 46,328 GRT.

Unlike the Titanic, it had to be watertight.

This is where “pitch” comes in. Pitch is a black glue-like substance that is left behind when tar is heated. It solidifies and hardens. Though Noah had no access to petroleum oil deposits (that we know of), he could have made pitch from the resin within pine trees. By sealing the Ark with pitch, the boat would be watertight and able to float even with the weight of Noah’s family and the enormity of animals housed inside.

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Joshua Hill

Blog & Content Director
Growing up outside of the church, Josh was saved at age 16 and was blessed to see multiple family members come to Christ and has held various positions including: Sunday School teacher, small group leader, Sunday School Director, member and chairman of multiple committees, interim youth pastor, ordained deacon and licensed minister.Most recently Josh served as the leader of a College and Career ministry teaching classes and leading service. An avid writer of his own curriculum, Josh took up blogging as a hobby. His hobby has become his newest passion in his current role with BibleSprout.

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