ARK OF NOAH


ARK OF NOAH
ARK OF NOAH (Heb. תֵּבָה, tevah), the vessel built by noah at Divine command (Gen. 6:14–16). Its purpose was to preserve Noah, his family, and representatives of each species of living creature for a continuation of life after the flood . The ark finally came to rest on the mountains of ararat (Gen. 8:4). Built of gopher wood, conjectured to be of a resinous type, it was covered with pitch inside and out. The ark had three stories with an unspecified number of compartments. In addition, it was equipped with a skylight, which terminated a cubit from the top, a side door, and a window (Gen. 8:6). The dimensions recorded are 300 cubits in length, 50 in width, and 30 in height, corresponding approximately to 440 × 73 × 44 ft., and yielding a displacement of about 43,000 tons. The appearance as described is rectangular and box-like and was so interpreted by the Septuagint: κιβωτὸς; the Vulgate: arca; and Josephus: λἀρναξ (Ant., 1:75 ff.). The term tevah may be related to the Egyptian db \!ejud\_0002\_0002\_0\_img0256 t ("chest," "box," "coffin"), a derivation appropriate to the only other occurrence of tevah in the Bible (Exodus 2:3–5), which describes the basket in which Moses was saved, but is less appropriate to the Noah story. In the earlier Mesopotamian Flood traditions the vessel is not an ark, but a "great ship," with a rudder. Tablet 11:60–62 of the Gilgamesh Epic describes an exact cube of 120 cubits on each side. It had seven stories, each with nine sections: a total of 63 compartments. It had a "strong cover," a door, and a window. Pitch served as one of the caulking compounds. These accounts speak variously of humans, living creatures, food, and a captain aboard; and refer to a divinely revealed blueprint similar to the detailed instructions to Noah. Josephus' description of the ark is closer to the Bible, whereas Berossus draws on native Babylonian traditions. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Skinner, Genesis (icc, 1930), 160–3; U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, 2 (1961), 55–71; E.A. Speiser, Genesis (1964), 47–56; N.M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis (1966), 37–59; Pritchard Texts, 42–44, 72–99, 104–6; A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels (1946), 232–7; P. Schnabel, Berossos und die babylonisch-hellenistische Literatur (1923), 164 ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Cohen, in: JANES, 4 (1972), 36–51. (Michael Fishbane)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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