I believe they could have built large metal ships if they had felt the need to do so, but they probably felt no such need. Because all the land was connected directly, or separated only by narrow, shallow seas, they had no need to ply the deep oceans.  Big ships would have seemed like overkill, and risked getting caught on sand bars.  Overland routes would have been shorter and probably faster most of the time.

Small to medium size boats were sufficient for fishing, which was done in the shallow seas.  Today all commercial fishing is likewise done in the waters of our continental shelves, i.e. the shallow seas. Therefore, since there was no demand for large, ocean-going vessels,  they invested their energies and mental capacities in other inventions.

Even if they did have large, ocean-going vessels, they would not have known how much food and fresh water to take with them. No one would have dreamed that they would need supplies for a year and seventeen days, plus some for after leaving the vessel. They would likely have died from lack of fresh water.


I think Noah would also have been short on food and fresh water if God had not helped him. I agree with Tim Chaffey and Laura Welch when they say that the ark probably was built in a way that enabled them to capture rain coming off the roof of the ark and divert it into holding tanks for use by the humans and animals on board. After the rains stopped, there would have been dew on the roof of the ark every morning caused by lots of moisture in the air.


Do fishing boats stay out at sea during a hurricane? No, because if they do, they capsize.   The flood event probably included one or more hypercanes, far worse than our hurricanes today.

We can safely assume that God chose a means of punishment which would not allow any of the guilty to escape it.

Genesis 6:14


Make to you a container

Go to footnote number

of covering

Go to footnote number


Go to footnote number

make nests in the container and cover

Go to footnote number

it inside and out with that which covers.   (See comments below.)

Go to footnote number


Make for yourself a floating container; use the kind of wood that you often use to make a house to cover yourself; make compartments inside it, and cover it inside and out with resin pitch that seals.  (See comments below.)


In Genesis 6:14, the Hebrew words “gopher wood” are difficult to nail down because the word “gopher” is used only this one time in Scripture. It is often placed in English versions with no alteration, simply as “gopher wood”; the phrase can mean “covering wood, ransom wood, pitch wood, or building wood”; the Septuagint renders it as “squared wood,” meaning wood suitable for building. Unless we are putting the facade on a log cabin, we always build with lumber that has been turned into boards, planks, posts or some form of squared lumber.

The fact that God did not have Noah build a metal ship does not prove anything about their capabilities in that field. I think God told him to build a boat out of wood so that the ark would be a picture of the salvation God would offer many years later when two pieces of “squared lumber” would become the cross of Jesus, the means through which God “ransoms” those who repent and “covers” them with the cleansing blood of Jesus.

The next lesson in this study is PHASE 5.3  DEATH CAME TO EVERYONE ON LAND BEFORE DAY 150


1: "a container":

In the Bible this word is only used of the container that Noah built for his family and the animals to float in and of the basket Moses’ mom made for him to float in. It appears to refer to a container. It can be rendered “box, basket, vessel or container.” I prefer the general “container” because it allows the reader to use the context to figure out what kind of a container it was based on the purpose thereof.

2: "covering"

This is the Hebrew word that is spelled and pronounced “gopher” in Hebrew. Even though it was only used once in the Bible, it is known by many people because many Bible translators did not try to actually translate it but simply converted it into English letters (called transliteration). Its meaning is disputed but the various options seem to revolve around the idea of “covering” e.g. “wood for homes” which cover the occupants from the weather (the Septuagint renders it “squared lumber” for building), or “resinous wood from which one can get pitch” which we use to cover or seal something. This word is similar to the words used later in the verse meaning “to cover, to ransom” and “pitch.” Since the idea of “covering” is the umbrella meaning, and since “covering” fits well with how the ark provided protection during the flood, I have used “covering lumber” in my translation column. See my footnote for “that which covers” at the end of this verse.

3: "lumber":

This is the word for standing “trees” and also for “lumber” for building, as well as “pieces of wood,” such as “fire wood.”

4: "cover":

This is the verb from which we get such English words as “appease, cover, ransom, pacify, and atone,” it is often rendered “atone for.” Here it means “to cover” in a physical sense, but it implies the life-saving protection that the ark provided to its occupants and how that pictured the life-saving work of Jesus that involved another set of “ransom wood.”

5: "that which covers":

This is a noun that comes from the verb for “cover’ explained in the previous footnote. It is the object that does the covering and context will indicate what needs to be covered and what the covering of it should look like. This word was often used of “a bribe” because bribes cover up problems and make them disappear; it also means “pitch” with which they covered things to seal them. It also meant “ransom” which was often a sum of money that saved a life, and “atonement” which appeased God’s wrath and sustained life.

In this verse we have three Hebrew words that sound similar and have similar emphases; first we see the adjectival noun “gopher” – a type of wood used to cover something, a form of the verb “caphar” – to cover, and the noun “copher” – the thing that does the covering, which in this case, must have been pitch or resin.