Why would God leave a word in the Bible that we can only identify as a noun due to its construction but have no other example available to us either in the Bible or other literature?
What purpose does something like this have in instructing us about God and His ways? How do we make sense of this for how we live out our faith?
The word I’m referring to is found in Genesis 6:14. It is sometimes left out of Biblical translations, simply transliterated, or a “best guess” is used in its place. Scholars debate what “gopher” is. Some think it is a type of tree that was wiped out because of the flood. Others think it may be a scribal error since the Hebrew “g” closely resembles the Hebrew “k”. If the word is supposed to be “kopher” then it would be describing a wood that has been treated to resist water. This latter argument makes a great deal of sense to my logical mind since Noah was building an ark meant to survive a flood. But the bottom line is we don’t know for certain.
How does this information impact you? Does it strengthen your faith or make you skeptical about the Bible’s accuracy?
As you continue to read the remainder of Genesis 6 do you notice that God gives Noah specific instructions on how the ark should be built and what is to be collected for this mission?
Did Noah understand the Lord’s instructions to him? (see Genesis 6:22)
God spoke clearly and precisely to Noah to save a remnant of all flesh. Noah listened to God and was obedient to the instructions.
Is it important that we know the meaning of “gopher”? (see Genesis 9:8-17)
Considering God has promised that He will never again destroy all flesh again via a flood, there will never again be a need for an ark made of gopher wood to be constructed.
So why write a post then about this unknown word?
In today’s world we have so many sources of information barraging our senses that it is often difficult to discern what we should listen to, let alone be obedient toward. Knowing that God spoke with specificity to Noah encourages me to believe that God will also speak to us today with the same clarity through His word so that we may navigate the waters of our own day and age.
But are we listening to Him and are we willing to do as He instructs us just like Noah did?
Are you willing to live out your faith in such a way that you make a difference for God’s mission to humanity?
What does this look like in your life today?
It may not be as epic as building an ark to save all flesh from a flood, but the mission will be specific to who God created you to be to point others to a different structure made of wood that served an even greater epic saving purpose, the cross of salvation. (see Matthew 27:32 to 28:20.)
We all have a specific role to play today. Are you listening and obeying? (See Romans 12:1-2)
Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark and cover it inside and out with pitch. (Gen 6:14 ESV)