Build It Out of Gopher Barky, Barky

shallow focus photography of brown tree trunk
Photo by Mahima on

I encourage teachers and parents to learn a new fact about a familiar biblical account before teaching the lesson to a class or to their personal kids. I make an effort to do this in my own teaching as often as possible. This helps keep the details fresh in my own mind and to discover new facts to share and to look at the biblical account with additional perspective.

Sometimes those facts add a lot to the meaning, other times, they’re simply intriguing to think about.

Like Noah and his gopher wood.

Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. (Genesis 6:14)

I think because gopher is actually a word, we don’t often stumble over the concept of gopher wood.

But NO ONE knows what gopher wood is. No one has heard of a gopher tree.

Some translations say cypress, but there is a Hebrew word for cypress and it’s not the same as the one for gopher.

Here are some other thoughts from Bible scholars.

  1. Maybe it’s a tree that no longer exists since the world changed post flood.
  2. Maybe it’s another kind of tree like cypress, pine, or juniper.
  3. Maybe gopher doesn’t actually refer to a tree but to a point of construction such as beams.
  4. Maybe because the k and the g are similar in construction (in Hebrew), this is a typo and it’s actually referring to kopher wood which would mean waterproofed, pitched wood.
  5. Maybe we’re all barking up the wrong tree. (OK, this last one is just for fun.)

One thing we do know.

Nobody knows.

Not an essential fact for Bible knowledge, but still, kind of interesting.

And might be fun to share with older kids. (Younger kids would just be confused.)


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