Genesis 6:16a:

A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; (KJV)

I don’t know what the second part means,1 but I understand "window." Several other English translations use some variation on this that I can’t quite get my head around, but the NIV seems clear enough:

Make a roof for the boat and leave a space of 18 inches between the roof and the sides. (NIV)

Does that mean the roof is hovering?! Probably not. Held up with pillars at the corners? I suppose that makes sense for the purpose of light, but perhaps not so felicitous in rain, which I hear they had some of in those days.

Also, “roof” (NIV, ESV, RSV, etc.) is different from “window” (KJV, NASB, YLT, etc.). Others (ASV, CJB, DARBY, etc.) use "light." The word in question צֹהַר (ṣōhar) is a hapax legomenon.2

The Hebrew (BHS):

צֹ֣הַר ׀ תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה לַתֵּבָ֗ה וְאֶל־אַמָּה֙ תְּכַלֶ֣נָּה מִלְמַ֔עְלָה

Can someone help me get a picture of the structure described here?


1. Apparently I’m not the only one.

2. The answer that triggered this question states otherwise but was treating צָהְָרַיִם (ṣohŏrāyim) as the same word. If I’m reading my lexicon correctly, although it looks like a dual from צֹהַר (ṣōhar), it’s actually a different word with (theoretical?) singular צָהְָרָם (ṣohŏram).

1 Answer 1


צֹ֣הַר [tso-har] roof, noon, midday LXX: "thou shalt narrow" KJV: "a window shalt thou make" Επισυναγων [e-pi-su-NA-gone] depicts two flat planes coming together. You can consider this to be a pitched roof over the ark, or the side panels narrowing to a pointed bow/stern. I have always wondered why pictures of Noah's ark had pointed bow and stern. This might be why artists have drawn it to look like that. The Hebrew word has a meaning that includes the idea of "noonday sun." This could explain the "window" translation. Consider that the top deck might have had a one-cubit gap between the top of the wall and the overhang of the roof. This would make a natural chimney effect to let out the stench of all those animals, and to be a convenient opening to toss waste overboard. Genesis 8:6 uses חַלּ֥וֹן [chalon], the ordinary Hebrew word for "window" for the birds' exit.


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