# What's “gopher wood”?

Originally published by me on the internet ca. 2003. No trace left on Google, so you get a clean slate.

Drenched with sweat from hard labor in the field, Noah loosened his girdle and complained, "I'm hungry! What's for dinner? Oh God, my aching back."

As if in answer, God appeared in a luminous cloud. "Noah, you must build an Ark. 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, 30 cubits high. You must make this Ark of gopher wood."

"What the heck is gopher wood?" asked Noah. "I bet nobody else in the whole Bible ever heard of it.1"

"Kind of a pun of mine," chuckled the Lord. "In that if you want any wood, you'll have to gopher it." Noah groaned.

"But seriously," God continued, "I do require that you use four specific kinds of wood, and no others, in building the Ark. One kind for timbers, one kind for planking, one kind for furniture, and one kind for firewood."

"Fine," said Noah. "Now name these various species of wood so I can build the Ark as you command."

God shrugged. "They have already been named. You figure it out."

"What?" cried Noah in desperation. "Can't you at least give me a clue?"

"Well," mused the Lord, stroking his beard, "as you know, I hold the letter S in abomination, for it is shaped like a serpent and is the first letter in 'serpent'. Take away the S'es and you'll know. Get that Ark ready quick now, you'll be needing it to float your goats." God chuckled again and disappeared.

Name the four kinds of wood.

1. True. "Gopher wood" appears nowhere else in the Bible.

• Hebrew doesn’t have tge letter S. – JDługosz Jul 24 '16 at 9:36
• @JDługosz how is ס (Samech) not a "letter S"? It sounds like it (although it doesn't look like a serpent - unless the serpent is eating its own tail like in Kukelé's dream). Anyway, God was obviously speaking English... – Floris Jul 25 '16 at 2:47
• Well, the word translated as serpent is “Nachasha” (נחש‎‎) which doesn’t have an /s/ sound at all. – JDługosz Jul 25 '16 at 4:20

Completing what DooplissForce started...

Drenched with sweat

SOAKED

He loosened his girdle

SASH

What's for dinner

STEAK

Oh my back!

SPINE

Take away the serpents, and you get

OAK (used for furniture), ASH (for timbers), TEAK (for planking), PINE (for firewood).

While these four woods are commonly used for these purposes I may be missing a clue as to why a specific wood would be used for a specific purpose (other than "that's the right wood for that job").

• "Ah", that would be taking away only the first s, right? – BobRodes Jul 23 '16 at 3:37
• @BobRodes good call. I cannot pretend to know the mind of the Almighty. – Floris Jul 23 '16 at 9:52
• I suspect yours is the answer. And the "worm in the original question" is that the OP "forgot" to mention that since the serpent was the beginning of all evil, and we are of course doing the best we can in the face of its predations, Our Lord only finds the letter S an abomination if it occurs at the beginning of a word, whereas subsequent S's represent those temptations for which he has nothing but compassion. – BobRodes Jul 23 '16 at 17:40
• Good job catching the links! :) – DooplissForce Jul 24 '16 at 0:34
• @DooplissForce I could not have done it without your answer. I hope you feel I appropriately acknowledged that. – Floris Jul 24 '16 at 0:36

Perhaps it's:

pine, teak, oak, and ash, because each can be preceded by S to form another word (spine, steak, soak, and sash).

• but which for which purpose? – Jasen Jul 24 '16 at 0:02
• @Jasen When I answered this initially, I didn't even consider the "they have already been named" bit, I had just found them based on the S clue. I didn't realize the links to the dialogue until after Floris uploaded their answer, so I don't want to edit mine to steal their thunder :) – DooplissForce Jul 24 '16 at 0:35