Some nights I don’t sleep well. Instead of counting sheep, I listen to Hugh Nibley on my ipod.
In the early morning hours of 4 AM, I heard Nibley talk about tough times and Noah’s ark.
“If we fancy Noah riding the sunny seas high, dry, and snug in the ark, we have not read the record—”
I chuckled at Nibley’s dry sense of humor — Noah, high and dry in his ark, animals smiling, sailing the seas — like those little kindergarten stories we’ve learned so well. I guess it’s time to grow up and gain a better understanding of what was happening.
According to ancient texts, Noah suffered–
“the long, hopeless struggle against entrenched mass resistance to his preaching, the deepening gloom and desperation of the years leading up to the final debacle, then the unleashed forces of nature with the family absolutely terrified, weeping and praying ‘because they were at the gates of death’, as the ark was thrown about with the greatest violence by terrible winds and titanic seas” (Abraham in Egypt, Nibley, pg. 164)
One commentary remarks that there was a glacial retreat, and that Noah coughed blood because of the severe cold. And when the ark came to rest, Noah had to go out into the world of desolation and start over again. Much as when God threw Adam and Eve into the lone and dreary world, unable to return to the garden.
We all encounter tough times.The patriarchs had trials that would “break any man’s spirit.” I guess I can’t complain when compared to sharing an ark with a bunch of animals during a glacial retreat. But I sense a nearing future of more cataclysmic events, as the earth begins to cleanse herself once again.
The meaning of the word, “ark”
“Ark” is an interesting word — as it is used in the English translation of the Bible for
- the ark of the covenant which was a box or oblong chest for keeping the covenant (ten commandments), pot of mana, and Aaron’s rod. The Lord gave the Israelites the precise dimensions for making the ark, and told them to place it in the Holy of Holies in the Temple or the Tabernacle. The ark was most holy, and on the Day of Atonement, God would appear above the mercy seat of the ark to the High Priest.
- the ark that God commands Noah to build, with precise dimensions — which is how Noah and and his family will be saved from the flood.
The Ark of the Covenant
“Ark” is derived from the Latin “arca,” meaning box. This is the word used in our scriptures today, and evolved from Jerome’s translation of the books of Moses from the Greek and Hebrew texts into a Latin Bible.
The word in the Septuagint (Greek), “kibotos” is translated as “ark” for both Noah’s ark and the ark of the covenant. “Kibotos” is the Greek word for “box.”
The Hebrew word “tebat,” “hattebah,” “lattebah,” and “battepah” are all translated “ark” —
וַתִּֽקַּֽח־ לוֹ֙ תֵּ֣בַת גֹּ֔מֶא וַתַּחְמְרָ֥ה
him a wicker basket and covered
him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes,
hide got basket A wicker and covered
hat·tê·ḇāh — Genesis 6:14
HEB: תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֶת־ הַתֵּבָ֑ה וְכָֽפַרְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֛הּ
you shall make the ark
in the ark,
and shalt pitch
shall make in the ark
and shall cover withinGenesis 9:18
HEB: הַיֹּֽצְאִים֙ מִן־ הַתֵּבָ֔ה שֵׁ֖ם וְחָ֣ם
who came out of the ark
that went forth of the ark,
came out of the ark
were Shem and HamExodus 2:5
HEB: וַתֵּ֤רֶא אֶת־ הַתֵּבָה֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַסּ֔וּף
and she saw the basket
and when she saw the ark
the Nile saw the basket
among the reeds
lat·tê·ḇāh — Genesis 6:16
HEB:צֹ֣הַר ׀ תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה לַתֵּבָ֗ה וְאֶל־ אַמָּה֙
a window for the ark,
shalt thou make to the ark,
and in a cubit
A window shall make the ark
to A cubitbat·tê·ḇāh —
HEB: וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ בַּתֵּבָֽה׃
NAS: was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.
KJV: [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.
INT: after for the ark
HEB: אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ בַּתֵּבָ֑ה וַיַּעֲבֵ֨ר אֱלֹהִ֥ים
NAS: the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God
KJV: and all the cattle that [was] with him in the ark: and God
INT: after in the ark to pass and God
The Jaredites in the Book of Mormon, crossed the ocean in a similar “ark” or box-like vessel, that preserved their life until they reached the promise land.