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Saturday, September 18, 2010

What was that again?

Today I had the pleasure of visiting a local attraction The Boyce Thompson Arboretum which of itself is simply beautiful. To walk among God's Creations and see the variety and the purpose for each plant is just amazing to me. The whole point of the trip today was to attend a tour offered by a friend of ours all about the Plants of the Bible.

Because of the similarities in climate, many of the plants that are mentioned in the Bible grow well here in Arizona. I was fascinated by the many plants we saw today, and I enjoyed learning some intresting facts about these plants. For example did you know that a date palm tree can produce 24 Tons of dates in it's lifetime? This makes for a very profitable orchard if you have a few date palms within it.

Another very interesting fact I learned during our 2 hour walk was that there is no such thing as a Gopher tree...from which the ark was built, and so scholars began trying to decide where Gopher wood came from. I suppose I always thought that when the Bible said Gopher Wood, I just took it as exactly that. Now there is some disagreement as to where exactly the Gopher Wood comes from, and there is no way to know here on earth who is correct but there are two possible sources that we discussed today, one seems to me highly unlikely. Now the first of the two possible sources is an Oleander, this to me seems highly unlikely because an oleander is a bush like plant, though it can grow quite tall, with very thin whiplike branches. Oleander looks like this:

As you can see the branch of this plant does not look like much to build a large boat from. The second possible source, which seems more likely to me, and again this is nothing that can be proven but meerly an educated guess based on available information. The second possiblity is Mediterranean Cypress, now this tree is very tall, fairly large around and would likely make the perfect planks for building an Ark. The Cyprus looks like this:

As you can see this particular tree is very tall, with a big round trunk. If I had to choose between the two I'd certainly choose the cypress tree!

The Gopher wood is believed to come from the fact that in translating from the original Greek text, there was no English word for the Greek word Kupar so the word Gopher was used. Gopher however actually refers to the process used to get the wood, a process of lamination involving shaving thin piece of the tree and then gluing them back together (think modern plywood). Now this Mediterranean Cypress is very common in the Mediterranean area, it is a very hard, sturdy wood, and was commonly used for boat making by the Cretans and Greeks. This seems a much more likely canditate for the Ark to me.

Again this is all opinion, as no person alive today can say for sure what Noah used to build the Ark. I simply wanted to share a little bit of trivia with you that I found interesting. I hope to take this tour again soon and learn even more!


  1. Hey Birbitt: the ark stuff is fascinating ~ especially as the outlines seem to have been found by archaeologists near Mt Ararat. One process that seems feasible to me [& makes the oleander a possible plant]is a process of wattle & daubing that would have resulted in a ferro~cement like hull. This is more likely than planks due to the lenght of the ark. I forget the exact point at which you can no longer build ships from wood [I think it is in the region of about 80'] because they won't flex properly & just spring a leak. Sometimes I wish I had a better grasp on science. lol. Your trip sounds very interesting. You may be interested in this site I found when researching biblical plants:


  2. Oleander as a contender for ark building is a bit scary considering how poisonous it is...but, ah, the wondrous mystery of Noah's Ark! Always an intriguing subject!

  3. Yes it was fascinating. I will be sure to check out that website!


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