Hapax Legomena and the value of expertise for Bible Study

When words appear only once their meaning often remains unclear

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” – Gen 6:14 (AV)

What was gopher wood? That was one of my first questions asked after reading the flood narrative in the AV, and I remember being quite annoyed when I found out that no one really knew. Even the word gopher  was simply a transliteration of the Hebrew גֹּפֶר which while attesting to the honesty of the AV translators was still quite unsatisfying. Some translations[1] translate it as ‘cypress wood’ though acknowledging in the margin that the Hebrew is uncertain, while others[2] follow the AV in transliterating the Hebrew as gopher.

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