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It’s Just a Box Right?

It’s Just a Box Right?

By Renee G.

Two little buzz words, “Noah’s Ark”, are heating up Hollywood and the Evangelical Christian world these days as Paramount Pictures releases “Noah”-a biblically inspired film on the life and times of Noah.

Inspired is the key word here, but instead of arguing about Hollywood’s artistic licensure and its multitude of inaccuracies from the true story, the root question should be-Did they even get the main prop in their set right when comparing the ark to the biblical account?  Truth be told, I had to do a little digging before I could give a fair and valid opinion.

The first part of my research led me to the featurette that focuses on the ark’s construction.  Director Darren Aronofsky explained that the scope of the ark was found in the bible. “He (God) basically describes a box.  It doesn’t talk about a bow… It just basically has to survive the flood.” Aronofsky’s comments had me puzzled.  A box?  Really? In all my life, I have never imagined the ark of Noah being just a box.  After all, it saved Noah and his family.

In addition, Production Designer Mark Friedberg summed up the team’s overall vision for the ark “I wanted very much this arc to be an act of desperation. The craft of this arch will be very rough and rugged and that idea gives the arc its vitality the sense that doom is impending people are really working quickly to try and make something so they can survive”.  But the arc was not built out of desperation nor did Noah believe he was doomed; it was built out of faith because “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8), and God found favor in Noah and called him righteous not desperate. (Genesis 7:1).

I had to get to the bottom of this mystery, so I started with the three-letter word, which seemed to be the heart of the question.  A…R…K… A few clicks later, I found some interesting pieces to my puzzle stemming from the Website WorldWideFlood.com.

The English word for “ark” is a Latin derivative of “arca”-a large box or chest, and this word was originally translated from the Greek word “kibotos” which means the same.  Hmmm, could Aronofsky be correct?  Just a box?  Digging further, I came across the second piece.  The Hebrew word for ark “tebah” appears only in two passages of the Old Testament.  First from the story of Noah and the second reference is to Moses’s vessel, a reed basket that his mother used when sending him down the Nile.  So, what does a basket have to do with an ark?  That’s a question translators have been trying to solve.

Translators recognized in context what “tebah” could mean “by proving what it couldn’t mean in the context.  It couldn’t mean a big boat if it also referred to a small basket. It couldn’t mean made of wood since Moses’ basket was made of reeds. It couldn’t mean something box-shaped or rectangular since baskets in Egypt of the day weren’t boxes; they were more round than rectangular” (Lovett).  What does this possibly mean?  “One of the best interpretations of the word “tebah” is actually life-preserver or life-saver….If the word is the equivalent of “life saver” then Gen 6:14 would read something like this; “Make for yourself a life saver out of gopher wood, coat it with pitch inside and out…” (Lovett).

After gathering my findings, I finally had to address the original question: Did they get at least the ark right?  My opinion is no.  Although they may have identified an accurate scale and some of the materials used, the directors missed the mark.  The ark is to have rooms inside the ark, not just open spaces with a few dividers,  pitch is to be placed both inside and out, and the ark is to have a covering which was removed “in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month on the first day of the month….Noah removed the covering of the ark.. (Genesis 6:14).

Even Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis agrees.  “Ham told Newsmax he believes Christians will realize the blatant inaccuracies that Hollywood is portraying, saying the contrast between Noah as depicted in the film and the Noah of the Bible is quite alarming”(Newsmax).  Ham also stated, “that religious soul-searching could result from seeing the movie, but said that in the end, the film is a departure from the real account in the Bible and will likely do more harm than good” (Newsmax).

All in all, the film may be a smash hit on the artistic side, but Hollywood, you got it wrong again, and in the words of Ken Ham, “There is a book” that reveals the truth behind the inspired story.




About Renee

is an author and editor for The Bottom Line Ministries as well as a member of Faith Writers. Currently she teaches high school language arts. She is a mom to four amazing blessings and enjoys every moment life has to offer. Renee has a fervor and drive to learn, she loves to read and spend time with her family, and is involved with her local church ministries. Humbled by God’s gift of words, she has a passion to write what the Holy Spirit has placed in her heart. She hopes to publish her in-progress book someday, but in the meantime, is honored to be placed as part of the TBL writing family and is holding on to the ride wherever God is leading. Renee and her family reside in their country home in Holland, Iowa.

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  1. You put a lot of time and work into this very interesting article. Hopefully, people will see that the whole purpose behind the ark, the “life saver,” is for people to realize their need for a savior, and to “hop on board.”

  2. Renee G. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Tim Lovett has deviously engaged in Scripture twisting to save his ship idea. Ironically just about the only thing Aronofsky got right was the shape of Noah’s Ark. Tim Lovett managed to sell his scripture ideas to AIG, now sadly their foolishness is everywhere. Tebah means chest/box. The literal Hebrew says Moses was placed into a “papyrus reed chest”. Guess what ancient Egyptians made even from the time of Moses?! Chests that were made of papyrus. I could also point out the Egyptians also made square and rectangular papyrus baskets and boxes. So when Tim Lovett purposefully displays rounded baskets to fool people… yeah that’s twisted. Furthermore the New Testament also uses a word for Noah’s Ark, want to take a guess? Yep, the greek word used in Luke and the book of Hebrews is “Kibotos” which means “wood chest/box”. Yet they’ll constantly misrepresent the issue saying the rectangular Ark(which came from the Latin word “arca” which means chest) shape has been depicted because people have assumed height, length and width equated a rectangle. That might be fair reasoning if the Bible didn’t explicitly tell us Noah’s Ark was a gigantic chest! They wanted a ship. That came first. Checking what the Bible actually says came later. There are 3 Hebrew words for ship, none are ever used of Noah’s Ark. There are two Greek words for ship/boat, neither were used to refer to the Ark….because “Ark” is a shape specific object. A chest has a shape and cannot be altered lest it cease to be a chest. Tim Lovett’s ship (rightly so called) is not an Ark, it’s more akin to a gigantic canoe! I recommend you buy the book Flood Fossils by Vance Nelson for a more detailed evaluation of this topic. Andrew

    • Andrew,

      Thanks for the great insight and book recommendation. We try to cover material thoroughly and honestly, and additional comments from our readers are very helpful in providing insight. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such a well thought out response to this article. God bless. 🙂

  3. Dear Brother Joel, I would not think to question Renee (or you) honest interest in learning or exploring various topics. I trust I did not come across as discouraging or condescending. I and a few colleagues have invested a lot of time and personal $ to publish (& will be publishing) on this topic due to the increasingly wide influence that will come from AIG building an $50 million ship. I readily understand that many will not see the shape of Noah’s Ark as an important issue, and in point of fact I don’t either. What has concerned myself and some fellow researchers is the deceitfulness that has gone on to protect this ship idea. What hangs in the balance? For an individual who consciously adopts the idea of a ship instead of a chest after knowing what the lexicons, dictionaries (& Jewish History) define “Tebah” and “Kibotos” would be a departure from the following theological stances. The doctrine of Verbal Plenary Inspiration. The Perspicuity of Scripture. Once there is a lapse from these theological postures, the individual inadvertently ends up promoting a sort of Agnosticism. Now I realize one doesn’t typically think of Evangelicals or Fundamentalists Christians as holding Agnostic views but sadly I have seen this deterioration in “academic” christian circles over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a scholar, pastor, or church layman would ever call themselves an Agnostic, but in deed and tongue the views expressed reflect this philosophy. As we’ve already seen with some of the AIG researchers the consequence of denying the obvious meanings of these words has inevitably led to the declaration that they (tebah/kibotos) are unclear. They adopted Tim Lovett’s attempt to confuse the matter, then claim the words are not clear and therefore uncertain and unknowable. Sad. I researched in great detail Egyptian cultural relevance of Papyrus, its uses and the many different applications of Papyrus which was their staple material (NOT wood). I also researched Artistic depictions of Noah’s Ark through the last 1900 years. The oldest known depiction of Noah’s ark is a box/chest on a Roman coin minted in the late 2nd century. These coins known as the Noah coins were minted under several emperors until the fourth century. There are in fact many depictions of Noah’s Ark in the first 400 years on coins, catacomb wall frescos, sarcophagus carvings, amulets, oil lamps etc. All of them are box/chests. The oldest known Noah’s ark that is a ship is from the 4th century from a coptic church wall painting in Egypt. If you can find an older one let me know. Most depictions of Noah’s Ark are box/chest (non-Genesis dimensions) placed into or on a boat. For some reason humans always want to add or subtract. They always want to help God out? So it seems they’ll place the Ark onto boats. The most recent Tim Lovett ship has no Ark whatsoever on it. Technically the silly bathtub Arks are more biblically correct because at least they have the Ark there on the boat! Furthermore Christian scholarship exploded in the 16th Century, and one of the favourite things to depict in printed Bibles was Noah’s Ark. There is a very very high percentage of depictions that are proportionate long box/chest type barge Arks. They basically stayed biblical until 1731 at the publishing of Physica Sacra where Scheuchzer put his “Ark” on a boat and so started the decline back into unbiblical Arks. By the 1800’s there was virtually no Biblical Arks. By the 20th century the proportions were shortened right up into funny boats with houses on them. Sad. I’ve rambled, hopefully you found this background info a bit helpful. As I stated in the earlier post, if anybody wants a source that touches on this research, look up Flood Fossils by Vance Nelson or Creation Truth Ministries. This book is worth every penny and contains never before seen research, artifacts and evidence that has been scientifically verified. Andrew

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