Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 6:14 and 6:22

Genesis 6:14
“Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.”
(NET Bible)

Keep on doing what God says

Some people trust in Jesus Christ for the simple reason that they do not want to risk going to hell. So far, so good. But a fraction of these people then put their Christianity in the closet and shut the door. The idea seems to be: “Call me when it is time for heaven!”

What is God’s opinion of faith that is expressed in an instant and then goes into dormancy? What does an extended showing of faith say about the quality of that faith?

Up to this point God has spoken only of destroying all life on earth. You know that Noah is going to be spared, but Noah has never read Genesis. He has only one hint at this point: God is still speaking to him. When Noah gets his first command, it has to be a relief.

God tells Noah to “build for yourself an ark.” What is an “ark”? The Hebrew word appears to be a derivative of an Egyptian word for “chest” or “box.” When Jerome created the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible, in about 405 A.D., he used the Latin noun arca, which means “chest” or “box.” The Latin word was taken into the Geneva Bible of 1599, an early English translation of the Vulgate, as “Arke.” The translators for the King James Version adopted this word as “ark,” and we have had it ever since.

Readers of the KJV may wonder how their “ark of gopher wood” became an “ark of cypress wood” (NET). The truth is that no one knows what kind of wood was used because the word is used only here. The Hebrew word is gofer (where f and ph are just alternative spellings), so you can see how the KJV reading arose as a simple spelling of the word; they had no knowledge of the type of wood. “Cypress” is merely an educated guess by the NET Bible translators.

No one knows what kinds of ships existed prior to the flood.[1] The design God gave to Noah has roughly the shape of a rectangular box scaled to a total length of about 450 feet, a height of 45 feet, and a width of 75 feet. (This shape is approximated by imagining a shoe box that is six times longer than normal.) Johan Huibers, a Dutch contractor, has built a replica at about one-half scale.

Genesis 6:22
And Noah did all that God commanded him– he did indeed.
(NET Bible)

Genesis 6:22 stresses that Noah did exactly what God told him to do. That is beyond dispute.

More interesting is to explain why the Hebrew text uses two different forms of the verb “to do.” These forms are commonly called the “imperfect” and the “perfect.” The imperfect is often used to represent “that which occurs repeatedly or in a continuous sequence in the past.”[2] The same reference says the perfect “denotes in general that which is concluded, completed, and past.” Genesis 6:22 has first the imperfect and then the perfect. So, it could be translated, “Noah kept on doing all that God commanded him—thus he did” (my rough translation).

What is the point? For 120 years Noah faithfully carried out God’s commands (“kept on doing”). Then the author of Genesis looks back and summarizes Noah’s behavior: “thus he did.” This statement undergirds God’s declaration of Noah’s righteousness in Genesis 7:1. Noah proved his faith over and over.

Do you want to please God? If so, keep on doing what he has commanded no matter how long it takes!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Note to landlubbers: Noah’s vessel was far too large to be called a “boat.”

[2] E. Kautzsch, ed., A.E. Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910) 125, fn 1.