Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. Genesis 6:14 KJV
Rooms, Compartments. What are these?
These rooms do not mean a room as we think of it or an open and spacious chamber. There are distinct words in Hebrew that could convey the idea of a room. For example,
- Maqom: a place, or space (Gen. 24:23-25).
- Gen. 26:22 uses the word Rachab: space.
- Gen. 43:30 uses Heder, meaning a private inner chamber, as in a palace.
The word used in Genesis 6:14 is different. It is Qen/Qinnim from the verb Qanan קֵן / קִנִּ֖ים – קָנַן. The usual meaning of this verb is to build a nest.
This word in its various forms appears a total of 18 times in the Hebrew Bible. In every single reference outside of the account of the ark, the word always means “nest”:
- a secure place of refuge;
- a closely confined space for raising young, or laying eggs.
Biblical use of the word for Nest
In Numbers 24:21 it refers to a refuge in the rocks. Moses uses it in Deuteronomy 22:6; 32:11 to describe a bird or eagle’s nest
Job 29:18 talks about how all men die, even in a “secure place,” and in 39:27 God discusses an eagle’s nest on high. The psalmist in Psalm 84:3 notes the sparrow’s nest in God’s sacred space and in Psalm 104:17 birds’ nests as well as the storks dwell in the tall trees. Proverbs 27:8 compares a bird’s nest to the place a person lives.
Isaiah mentions nests and safe places as well:
- 10:14 a hiding place for riches is compared to a nest of eggs;
- 16:2 being thrown out of one’s place is compared to a bird forced from its nest;
- 34:15 – a nest of the great owl: for laying and hatching eggs, or mates dwelling together;
Jeremiah 22:23 mentions the nests that are in cedar trees; 48:28 pictures a dove’s nest in the side of a gorge or mouth of a cave; and 49:16 describes living high in the cracks of the mountains like an eagle’s nest.
Ezekiel 31:6 tellls a story of the birds nesting in the limbs of trees, while Obadiah 1:4 warns that even if Edom should build a nest in the stars it would face judgement. Habakkuk 2:9 describes people building their ‘nests’ with wickedness.
A Cozy Berth
Noah built the ark with many smaller compartments and small, enclosed spaces, like berths. This arrangement would be much safer for animals to spend the months at sea during the global catastrophic flood.
Nests would also increase the capacity potential of the ark. Such close-quartered compartments could have been made for each of the animals or the pairs together. This would be fesible even for the larger quadrupeds, and, of course, were a natural way to house the birds, rodents, and small ruminants as well.
Picturing this clearly helps us envision how every creature would have been securely housed to survive the time of the flood.