on Genesis 6 :14
Make thee an ark - תבת tebath, a word which is used only to express this vessel, and that in which Moses was preserved, Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5. It signifies no more than our word vessel in its common acceptation - a hollow place capable of containing persons, goods, etc., without any particular reference to shape or form.
Gopher wood - Some think the cedar is meant; others, the cypress. Bochart renders this probable, 1. From the appellation, supposing the Greek word κυπαρισσος, cypress, was formed from the Hebrew גפר, gopher; for take away the termination ισσος, and then gopher and κυπαρ will have a near resemblance. 2. Because the cypress is not liable to rot, nor to be injured by worms. 3. The cypress was anciently used for ship-building. 4. This wood abounded in Assyria, where it is probable Noah built the ark. After all, the word is of doubtful signification, and occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The Septuagint render the place, εκ ξυλων τετραγωνων, "of square timber;" and the Vulgate, de lignis laevigatis, "of planed timber;" so it is evident that these translators knew not what kind of wood was intended by the original. The Syriac and Arabic trifle with the passage, rendering it wicker work, as if the ark had been a great basket! Both the Targums render it cedar; and the Persian, pine or fir.
on Genesis 6 :14
The ark. - Reckoning the cubit at 1.8 feet, we find the length to be about 540, the breadth 90, and the height 54 feet. The construction of such a vessel implies great skill in carpentry. The lighting apparatus is not described so particularly that we can form any conception of it. It was probably in the roof. The roof may have been flat. "And to a cubit shalt thou finish it above." The cubit is possibly the height of the parapet round the lighting and ventilating aperture. The opening occupied, it may be, a considerable portion of the roof, and was covered during the rain with an awning מכסה mı̂ksēh, Genesis 8:13. If, however, it was in the sides of the ark, the cubit was merely its height. It was then finished with a strong railing, which went round the whole ark, and over which the covering, above mentioned, hung down on every side. The door was in the side, and the stories were three. In each were of course many "nests" or chambers, for animals and stores. It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. Only the animals necessary to man, or unusual to the region covered by the deluge, required to be included in the ark. It seems likely that wild animals in general were not included. It is obvious, therefore, that we cannot calculate the number of animals preserved in the ark, or compare the space they would require with its recorded dimensions. We may rest assured that there was accommodation for all that needed to be there.
on Genesis 6 :14
6:14 I will destroy them with the earth, but make thee an ark - I will take care to preserve thee alive. This ark was like the hulk of a ship, fitted not to sail upon the waters, but to float waiting for their fall. God could have secured Noah, by the ministration of angels without putting him to any care or pains, but he chose to employ him in making that which was to be the means of his preservation, both for the trial of his faith and obedience, and to teach us that none shall be saved by Christ, but those only that work out their salvation; we cannot do it without God, and he will not without us: both the providence of God and the grace of God crown the endeavours of the obedient and diligent. God gave him particular instructions concerning this building. It must be made of Gopher - wood; Noah, doubtless, knew what sort of wood that was, though now we do not. He must make it three stories high within: and, He must divide it into cabins with partitions, places fitted for the several sorts of creatures, so as to lose no room. Exact dimensions are given him, that he might make it proportionable, and might have room enough in it to answer the intention, and no more. He must pitch it within and without: without, to shed off the rain, and to prevent the water from soaking in; within, to take away the ill smell of the beasts when kept close. He must make a little window towards the top to let in light. He must make a door in the side of it by which to go in and out.