What is Gopher Wood?
In the Bible, God commanded Noah to build him a vessel, an ark. This was to be made from a particular type of wood: gopher wood. God also sent Noah specific instructions about the size and the dimensions of the ark and when it was finished, He commanded that Noah keep a pair of every animal on earth. He was to destroy the world using a flood. Why did God choose gopher wood of all the many types of wood? Is there really such a thing as gopher wood?
Gopher wood explained
The word “gopher" is used only once in the Bible. It was mentioned in Genesis 6:14 when God commanded Noah to “make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Today, no one actually knows what gopher wood is. But there are some theories as to what exactly is this type of wood.
Many modern scholars consider gopher wood as cypress wood because of its extreme durability. There are modern English versions of the Bible like the New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the New English Translation, translate gopher wood as “cypress wood."
The Smith Bible Dictionary defines gopher wood as “any trees of the resinous kind, such as pine, fir, or cypress." But when you try to define what is the exact tree using “gopher wood" of Genesis 6:14, there are a few things to consider.
Gopher tree can be cypress or any of the following: cedar, pine, ebony, fir, wicker, juniper, acacia, bulrushes, and boxwood. It is also very likely that gopher wood doesn’t exist today. There is a large number of plants and trees that may have become extinct since the time of Noah.
The great flood in Noah’s time has destroyed all the earth so there is a huge possibility that what was used in the ark was also destroyed as well. Some researchers believe the word gopher doesn’t refer to a species of wood at all. They believe that it is a process used to prepare the wood in the ark’s construction.
There are some archaeologists who say that gopher may have referred to a lamination process which was done to improve the stability of the wood due to the extreme size and weight of the ark. The ark was said to be about 550 feet in length!
Other theories about gopher wood
Still, there are people who think that the reason why it’s difficult to find the real description of gopher wood is that it has been misspelled in Hebrew. The similarity between a g and a k in the Hebrew alphabet (both letters resemble a backward c) may have caused the confusion. Therefore some scholars have proposed that the first letter in the word gopher was accidentally misspelled by a scribe and that the word should actually be kopher. This is a Hebrew word meaning “pitch."
If this theory is correct, the real passage would read, “Make yourself an ark of pitched wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch."
Whatever type of wood was used to construct the ark, it surely was durable and perfect for the job. Gopher wood was indeed perfect for sheltering animals as well as people who were chosen to be saved from the flood.
Gopher wood uses
If gopher wood was to be used today for different projects, no doubt it can carry large amounts of weight and will be indestructible against weather and especially water damage. It could be used for ship building, of course, because of its extreme durability and versatility.
Because gopher wood is extremely strong, it may be a good candidate to build infrastructure, roads, bridges, homes, buildings and more. And most likely this wood is also beautiful because it was specifically chosen by God. It could be a good material for different home accessories as well as home accents.
It is unclear if gopher wood really existed. Scholars of yesterday and today are still deciphering what gopher wood is from the Bible and from these studies are theories that may have been true. But all-in-all, gopher wood may have been very strong, reliable and versatile considering it was chosen by God above all wood to build his ark.