Genesis 6:14 - Pitch


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"Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."

Here is the first word (3722) in Strong's Lexicon.

Here is the second word (3724) in Strong's Lexicon.

It seems that the first word is a verb and the second is a noun. The definitions seem to indicate this is a type/shadow of Christ, the atonement, and not just merely the story of how the Ark was prepared to withstand the flood. I would appreciate any help on this word. Thanks.

Gryllus Maior

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Gen 6:14. I don't really want to get into the theological discussion, though the I believe the entire flood cycle is typological of the creation-fall-redemption theme. However, your verb כפר has quite a large range of meaning. Most modern translations simply use cover, e.g. the ESV:

"Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch."

As for the noun, it's what we call a hapax legomena, i.e. it shows up once in the entire OT, and that's here.

כֹּפֶר, SamP.M119 kāfar; → כפר qal; JArm.tb Syr. (also masc. q-. denominative from קפר pa.) כּוּפְרָא. > Arb. kufr (WKAS K:265) and qafr (Fraenkel 150); < Akk. kupru pitch and asphalt (AHw. 509a): pitch to cover the ark Gn 6:14; → חֵמָר. †

Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1994–2000). In The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 495). E.J. Brill.

It may have been chosen as a cognate with the verb for emphasis.


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The earliest reed boats discovered to date were coated with bitumen. This seems to have been standard practice.

"Bitumen came from northern Mesopotamian sources, and reached the Persian Gulf.
The earliest reed boat discovered to date was coated with bitumen, at the site of H3 at As-Sabiyah in Kuwait, dated about 5000 BC; its bitumen was found to have come from the Ubaid site of Mesopotamia."


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The earliest reed boats discovered to date were coated with bitumen. This seems to have been standard practice.

"Bitumen came from northern Mesopotamian sources, and reached the Persian Gulf.
The earliest reed boat discovered to date was coated with bitumen, at the site of H3 at As-Sabiyah in Kuwait, dated about 5000 BC; its bitumen was found to have come from the Ubaid site of Mesopotamia."
Yes that was what I thought the noun in that verse was most likely referring to. The verb is pretty interesting though in how it's used everywhere else in Scripture.


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Theological Wordbook of the OT:
1023.0 כָפַר (k¹par) I, make an atonement, make reconciliation, purge. (Denominative verb.) This root should probably be distinguished from k¹par II "to smear with pitch."​
1023a) כֹּפֶר (k¹per) I, ransom, gift to secure favor.
1023b) כִּפֻּר (kipp¥r) (used in the plural kipp¥rîm) atonement, used especially in the expression "day of atonement."​
1023c) כַּפֹּרֶת (kappœret) place of atonement; KJV, "mercy seat."​
The root k¹par is used some 150 times. It has been much discussed. There is an equivalent Arabic root meaning "cover," or "conceal." On the strength of this connection it has been supposed that the Hebrew word means "to cover over sin" and thus pacify the deity, making an atonement (so BDB). It has been suggested that the OT ritual symbolized a covering over of sin until it was dealt with in fact by the atonement of Christ. There is, however, very little evidence for this view. The connection of the Arabic word is weak and the Hebrew root is not used to mean "cover." The Hebrew verb is never used in the simple or Qal stem, but only in the derived intensive stems. These intensive stems often indicate not emphasis, but merely that the verb is derived from a noun whose meaning is more basic to the root idea.​
kœper. Ransom. Every Israelite was to give to the service of the sanctuary the "ransom" money of half a shekel (Exo 30:12). Egypt, in God's sight, was given as a "ransom" for the restoration of Israel (Isa 43:3). This word "ransom" is parallel to the word "redeem" (p¹dâ, which see) in Psa 49:7. There is a warning that a man guilty of murder must be killed-no "ransom" can be given in exchange for his life (Num 35:31). The word is also used in a bad sense as a "bribe" which wrongly purchases favor (1Sam 12:3).​
From the meaning of kœper "ransom," the meaning of k¹par can be better understood. It means "to atone by offering a substitute." The great majority of the usages concern the priestly ritual of sprinkling of the sacrificial blood thus "making an atonement" for the worshipper. There are forty-nine instances of this usage in Leviticus alone and no other meaning is there witnessed. The verb is always used in connection with the removal of sin or defilement, except for Gen 32:20; Prov 16:14; and Isa 28:18 where the related meaning of "appease by a gift" may be observed, It seems clear that this word aptly illustrates the theology of reconciliation in the OT. The life of the sacrificial animal specifically symbolized by its blood was required in exchange for the life of the worshipper. Sacrifice of animals in OT theology was not merely an expression of thanks to the deity by a cattle raising people. It was the symbolic expression of innocent life given for guilty life. This symbolism is further clarified by the action of the worshipper in placing his hands on the head of the sacrifice and confessing hi s sins over the animal (cf. Lev 16:21; Lev 1:4; Lev 4:4, etc.) which was then killed or sent out as a scapegoat.​
kipp¥r. Atonement. kapporet. Mercy seat. These two nouns are derived from the verb as used in the intensive stem: The first is used today in the name of the Jewish holiday yom kippur "day of atonement" (used only in the plural in the OT) which was the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri. This solemn day was the only day of fasting prescribed for Israel. It was celebrated by a special sin offering for the whole nation. On that day only would the high priest enter within the inner veil bearing the blood of the sin offering (cf. Heb 9:7). A second goat was released as an escape goat to symbolize the total removal of sin (see ±¦z¹°z¢l "scapegoat").​
kappbœret. Mercy seat. This noun is used twenty-seven times and always refers to the golden cover of the sacred chest in the inner shrine of the tabernacle or temple. It was from above the mercy seat that God promised to meet with men (Num 7:89). The word, however, is not related to mercy and of course was not a seat. The word is derived from the root "to atone." The Greek equivalent in the LXX is usually hilast¢rion, "place or object of propitiation," a word which is applied to Christ in Rom 3:25. The translation "mercy seat" does not sufficiently express the fact that the lid of the ark was the place where the blood was sprinkled on the day of atonement. "Place of atonement" would perhaps be more expressive. R.L.H.​
1024.0) כָּפַר (k¹par) II, cover over with pitch. This denominative verb is used only in Gen 6:14 in the waterproofing of the ark. The cognate word is used in the Babylonian flood story.​
1024a) כֹּפֶר (kœper) II, pitch. A noun, from which the above verb was doubtless derived. Pitch, bitumen, asphalt was used in early antiquity as an adhesive to hold inlays into statues. It was a logical material for caulking the ark as specified both in the Bible and the Babylonian flood story. R.L.H.​
1025.0) כּפר (kpr) III. Assumed root of the following.​


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OT Word Study Dictionary:
3722. כָּפַר kāpar: A verb meaning to cover, to forgive, to expiate, to reconcile. This word is of supreme theological importance in the Old Testament as it is central to an Old Testament understanding of the remission of sin. At its most basic level, the word conveys the notion of covering but not in the sense of merely concealing. Rather, it suggests the imposing of something to change its appearance or nature. It is therefore employed to signify the cancellation or “writing over” of a contract (Isa. 28:18); the appeasing of anger (Gen. 32:20[21]; Prov. 16:14); and the overlaying of wood with pitch so as to make it waterproof (Gen. 6:14). The word also communicates God’s covering of sin. Persons made reconciliation with God for their sins by imposing something that would appease the offended party (in this case the Lord) and cover the sinners with righteousness (Ex. 32:30; Ezek. 45:17; cf. Dan. 9:24). In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices was most notably imposed (Ex. 30:10). By this imposition, sin was purged (Ps. 79:9; Isa. 6:7) and forgiven (Ps. 78:38). The offenses were removed, leaving the sinners clothed in righteousness (cf. Zech. 3:3, 4). Of course, the imposition of the blood of bulls and of goats could never fully cover our sin (see Heb. 10:4), but with the coming of Christ and the imposition of His shed blood, a perfect atonement was made (Rom. 5:9–11).​
3724. כֹּפֶר kōper: A masculine noun meaning a ransom, a bribe, a half-shekel. The most common translation of the word is ransom. It refers to the price demanded in order to redeem or rescue a person. The irresponsible owner of a bull that killed someone and was known to have gored people previously could be redeemed by the ransom that would be placed on him (Ex. 21:30). When a census of people was taken in Israel, adult males had to pay a half-shekel ransom to keep the Lord’s plague from striking them (Ex. 30:12). A murderer could not be redeemed by a ransom (Num. 35:31). Yet money, without God’s explicit approval, could not serve as a ransom for a human being (Ps. 49:7[8]). On the other hand, money could serve as a ransom to buy off a person’s human enemies (Prov. 13:8). God sometimes used a wicked person as a ransom to redeem a righteous person (Prov. 21:18); God ransomed Israel from Babylonian captivity for the ransom price of three nations (Isa. 43:3): Egypt, Seba, and Cush.​
The meaning of the word becomes a bribe when used in certain circumstances. For example, Samuel declared that he had never taken a bribe (1 Sam. 12:3); and Amos castigated the leaders of Israel for taking bribes (Amos 5:12). Proverbs 6:35 describes a jealous husband whose fury would not allow him to take a bribe to lessen his anger.​
3725. כִּפֻּרִים kippuriym: A masculine plural noun meaning atonement, the act of reconciliation, the Day of Atonement. It is used five times to indicate the act or process of reconciliation: a young bull was sacrificed each day for seven days during the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons to make atonement (Ex. 29:36). Once a year, the blood of a sin offering was used to make atonement on the horns of the altar of incense located in front of the Holy of Holies (Ex. 30:10). Ransom money of a half-shekel was used to effect atonement or reconciliation for male Israelites who were at least twenty years old (Ex. 30:16). The money was then used to service the Tent of Meeting.​
When a person had wronged the Lord or another person, a ram was presented to the priest, along with proper restitution (Num. 5:8); a sin offering for atonement was presented yearly on the Day of Atonement (Num. 29:11). Three times the noun is used to indicate the Day of Atonement itself (Lev. 23:27, 28; 25:9).​


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The Complete Biblical Library:

3848. ‏כָּפַר‎ kāphar​
verb: to smear, to coat with pitch, to cover, to atone​
‏כֹּפֶר‎ kōpher (3853)​
‏כִּפֻּרִים‎ kippurîm (3854)​
‏כַּפֹּרֶת‎ kappōreth (3855)​
‏חָטָא‎ chā tāʾ (2490)​
‏כָּפָה‎ kāphāh (3836)​
נָקָה nāqāh (5536)​
Kāphar is a common verb, occurring over 100 times in the OT with a variety of possible meanings. The basic meaning, from which all others extend, is “to cover” over something, and the word often carries the idea of reconciliation. Semitic cognates are noted in a wealth of other languages, including Arabic (“to cover,” “to atone”), Akkadian (“to wipe off,” “to cleanse ritually”) and Syriac (“to wipe off”). The word is used only once in the Qal stem, meaning “to smear” or “to coat.” Noah was commanded to coat the ark with pitch (Gen. 6:14).​
The majority of uses of kāphar are in the Piel stem, reflecting the intensity of the action being taken. Other forms of the word relate the passive meaning, “to be atoned for.” The older usage of this word reflects the basis for later usage with regard to the Mosaic Covenant and the atonement required by God for the Israelites. Jacob “appeased” Esau with a gift (literally, “I will cover his face”; Gen. 32:20). The implication is that Esau would be visually blocked from seeing Jacob’s transgression of twenty years earlier because Jacob was making amends with a gift. Reconciliation was also made by David to the Gibeonites for Saul’s inhumane treatment of them (2 Sam. 21:3).​
Most occurrences of kāphar, however, have to do with atoning for sin against God and occur in the priestly ritual sections of the OT. Moses made atonement for the people after their sin of worshiping the golden calf. The LORD forgave the Israelites, but they were severely punished (Exo. 32:30–35). The priests made atonement for the people (Num. 8:19), but first had to be atoned for themselves (Exo. 29; Lev. 8; Num. 8:12). Atonement was made for individuals (Lev. 5:6–16; 19:22); for a house (Lev. 14:53); for the Tent of Meeting (Lev. 16:16). Atonement was usually made on the altar in the Tabernacle (Lev. 16:18).​
It has been rightly observed that the word “atone” is a combination of the words “at” and “one,” and that the word “atonement,” therefore, means “at-one-ment.” While the simpler definitions of “reconcile” or “repairing [of a relationship]” do not capture all the theological meaning, these denotations are basically correct and clearly communicate the purpose of the Israelite rituals, as well as a basic function of church services today. Atonement and forgiveness are closely related. Yet, without the ritual of atoning (or, today, the acceptance of Christ’s atoning work for ourselves) forgiveness would not occur.​
The theology of the atoning act has to do with purifying so that God may be approached or that someone may live in the proximity of his presence. What actually occurs with regard to a person’s requirements toward God to obtain forgiveness is debated. The three basic theories of what exactly occurs when atonement for sin is made are: covering, ransoming and wiping away. Some elements of each are valuable.​
Covering seems to be an attractive option by means of the Arabic cognate being in close agreement. In addition, the earliest references in Genesis denote covering. But these occurrences are also closely tied to the idea of “rubbing,” and whether “rubbing on” or “rubbing off [or away]” is intended is not exactly clear.​
The ransoming idea has often been purported picturesquely, because of cognate nouns in Hebrew which mean “ransom” (e.g. HED # 3853). But the problem with this base meaning is the question of to whom the ransom is paid. Leviticus 17:11 prescribes the Israelites making atonement for themselves. Oddly enough, this verse is often quoted in support of the ransom theory. But draining of blood before consumption was always required, regardless of whether the animal was to be used for a sacrifice. Furthermore, there was no ransom for murder (Num. 35:31f).​
To wipe away or to cleanse is the third idea which some consider basic to kāphar. The three reasons are that: Jer. 18:23 uses kāphar in parallel to māchāh (HED # 4364), which obviously means “to wipe off” or “to wipe away”; the Hebrew Piel form matches well with the similar verb type in the Akkadian cognate—verses which speak of ritually purifying the Tabernacle. This theory is based on the idea of a secondary root. In other words, the word kāphar, which means “to cover,” is actually a different word than kāphar which means “to atone.” They just happen to sound the same. The likelihood of two such words coming together is improbable. It is impossible to prove and likely stems from arguments against the nuance of “to cover,” rather than a proactive approach.​
Blood was necessary for atonement. Indeed, Heb. 9:22 teaches that “without shedding of blood, that there is no remission.” Guilt of sin means death. To atone, therefore, requires payment of lifeblood in exchange for the life of the sinner. Since the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11), it is the ultimate symbol for the life of the sacrifice which is offered in place of the life of the sinner. There is no magical power in the blood; atoning is a judicial act of substitution, according to God’s prescribed ordinances, which are always ultimately based on his holiness. The good news is that the answer to Israel’s sin problem was a totally new beginning, which God provided for on the Day of Atonement. That day looked ahead to the once-and-for-all offering of Jesus Christ to truly take away the guilt of sin for those who will repent and believe.​
BDB 497–98, KB 2:493–94, NIDOT 2:689–711, STRONG <H3722>, TDOT 7:288–303, TWOT 1:452–53.​
3853. ‏כֹּפֶר‎ kōpher​
noun: bribe, ransom​
‏פְּדוּיִם‎ p edhûyim (6543)​
‏פִּדְיוֹם‎ pidhyôm (6547)​
‏שֹׁחַד‎ shōchadh (8245)​
Derived from the verb kāphar (HED # 3848), “to make atonement,” this noun occurs thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible. It is attested elsewhere in Semitic only in Samaritan. Kōpher has two basic meanings, as a means of “ransom” or “redemption,” standing in the place of the one punished, and “bribe.”​
The noun appears as a technical term for “ransom.” The notion of a monetary amount being able to atone for one’s penalty for a crime is consistent with the semantic range of the verb. The object ransomed is the life of the individual, again a concept which is consonant with the verb. For example, one will suffer death for allowing one’s ox to habitually gore, to the point that a free person is killed by that ox, unless the owner pays a fee to save his own life (Exo. 21:30). This act of negligent homicide is differentiated from willful murder, for which no redemption price can be paid (Num. 35:31f). Further, there was a fee paid as ransom for the lives of those males counted in the census of Moses (Exo. 30:12). The act of census-taking usually had the implication of warfare, rather than merely numbering everyone. Thus, those counted for war needed to be ritually purified for war, for Yahweh was understood to be fighting for the Israelites, and only the ritually pure could come into contact with his presence (see Deut. 20).​
The concept is also used in literary contexts. It is rhetorically understood that no one can ransom their lives from Sheol, as all must die (Ps. 49:7). However, Yahweh does ransom the righteous from the brink of Sheol, according to Elihu (Job 33:24). Elihu argued that Job’s crime was severe enough that there was no redemption for it, and that Job must accept the penalty given him (36:18). The redemption of the righteous is possible, and done at the expense of the wicked (Prov. 21:18). Indeed, Yahweh asserts that the ransom paid for Israel was no less than Egypt (Isa. 43:3). This imagery points to the value of the righteous in the eyes of Yahweh.​
Finally, the noun is used in the sense of “bribe.” A bribe is in essence ransom, a ransom paid in circumstances where it should not be necessary to do so. Amos sent a scathing criticism to the economic elite of the northern kingdom of Israel, including a condemnation for the rich oppressing the poor through the practice of bribery (Amos 5:12). Proverbs 13:8 suggests that the rich are susceptible to bribes. This action does not occur among the righteous, those who possess true wisdom (6:35). Indeed, in Samuel’s farewell speech, as the nation made a monumental shift in political structure from tribal confederacy to kingship, Samuel established his credibility by rhetorically challenging the crowd to produce any evidence of impropriety on his part, including bribery (1 Sam. 12:3).​
BDB 497, KB 2:495, NIDOT 2:689–711, STRONG <H3724>, TDOT 7:288–303, TWOT 1:452–53.​


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Those are my 3 favorite more helpful kind of lexicons I regularly lookup first.

I have more if you're feeling particularly hardcore.