Reading from Genesis 6:14 (NRSV):
Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
There is a note at "cypress" which says:
Meaning of Hebrew uncertain.
In the New Interpreter's Study Bible, the commentary states:
Neither the materials out of which the ark was built nor its design are completely comprehensible, nor do they appear to reflect the character of ships in antiquity. The terms for the ark's wood and the pitch to cover it (v. 14) are used nowhere else in the Bible. The NRSV has proposed cypress wood, likely because of its use elsewhere in shipbuilding (Ezek 27:5).
I notice that KJV translated this as "gopher wood" and NIV translated this as "cypress wood".
Is there any other evidence that the word would be cypress?
Why would a Biblical translator put in cypress if the word meaning is uncertain? I would think it would be better to put in the actual Hebrew word or a mark like [uncertain] if the exact translation is not known. Conjecture, like the word cypress, could go in a footnote. Is this standard practice for Biblical translations?