Gopher, from the Hebrew word pronounced go-fer, was a type of wood that Noah used to build the ark (although the name is the same in English, gopher wood is not at all related to the burrowing rodent). Mentioned only once in Bible History, it is often regarded as the cypress tree, which was widely available in Noah's place and time (see Biblical Forests), although others translate it as pine or cedar. The root of the Hebrew word is a verb meaning to build, or to house, which would imply how the wood was used, not necessarily the species of tree, which is perhaps the reason that the (Greek) Septuagint translates gopher as "squared beams," and the (Latin) Vulgate as "planed wood."
Noah's Ark Of Gopher Wood
"These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth."
"Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth."
"And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch."
"This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks."
"For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them."
"Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him."
(Genesis 6:9-22 RSV)
Fact Finder: How big was Noah's ark, using modern-day units of measurement?
See How Big Was Noah's Ark?
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This Week's Bible Quiz
1. Which of Noah's sons had a name that begins with the letter "S"?
2. Which of Noah's sons had a name that begins with the letter "H"?
3. Which of Noah's sons had a name that begins with the letter "J"?
4. Is the name of Noah's wife known? If so, what is it?
5. How old was Noah when the flood began?
(a) 51 (b) 80 (c) 120 (d) 600
6. Which bird did Noah send out first from the ark, a raven or a dove?
7. Did any humans survive the flood other than the people in the ark?
8. How many people were on the ark?
9. What did God say would be the sign of His covenant that never again would He destroy all life by a flood of water?
10. How many years did Noah live after the flood?
(a) 1 (b) 17 (c) 150 (d) 350
For the answers to this March 12 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page