I have heard that the word tsohar used for "window" in Genesis 6:16 may be interpreted instead as a "precious stone" that may have provided light within the ark. Here is the text from the KJV of Genesis:

A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. Genesis 6:16

Is anyone aware of any commentary that may support this interpretation? I would like to know of any references to rabbinical sources if there are any. Thanks!

  • 1
    See Rashi.........
    – sam
    Jun 11, 2014 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


This can be found in Rashi, Onkelos, and Ibn Ezra. To cite a post about this on Balashon:

The word tzohar (or tsohar) appears only here in the Tanach and there are a number of explanations for the meaning:

  • window (Onkelos, Rashi, Ibn Ezra) - based on tsohorayim צהרים - noon. The light of noon is compared to the light entering the ark via the window. Also related to zohar זוהר - brilliance. This may be the window mentioned in 8:6.
  • lamp, or oil for a lamp (Menachem, Radak, Chizkuni)- based on yitzhar יצהר - oil.
  • roof (Shadal, Cassuto, Kaddari) - via Arabic zahr, Akkadian seru, Ugaritic zr - meaning "back, top".
  • luminous stone (Rashi) - based on a Midrash
  • ,you can add this Torah Temimah if you like hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14052&st=&pgnum=86
    – sam
    Jun 11, 2014 at 1:00
  • I am referring to the explanation on botto.
    – sam
    Jun 11, 2014 at 1:01
  • Why did you boldface the "window" interpretation, when the asker seeks "gem" interpretations?
    – msh210
    Jun 11, 2014 at 5:50

You can see a series of commentaries on Bereshit 6:16 here.

Some of the more relevant ones include

צהר. מקום שיכנס ממנו האור והוא מגזרת צהרים.

"צֹהַר תַּעֲשֶׂה לַתֵּבָה" ר' חוניה ור' פנחס ר' חנין ור' הושעיא לא מפרשין ר' אבא בר כהנא ורבי לוי מפרשין ר' אבא בר כהנא אמר חלון

  • Rashi (quoting the above midrash)

"צהר" - י"א חלון וי"א אבן טובה המאירה להם (ב"ר שם)

נֵהוֹר תַּעְבֵּיד לְתֵבוֹתָא וּלְאַמְתָא תְּשַׁכְלְלִינַהּ מִלְּעֵלָּא וְתַרְעָא דְתֵבוֹתָא בְּסִטְרַהּ תְּשַׁוִּי מְדוֹרִין אֲרָעִין תִּנְיָנִין וּתְלִיתָאִין תַּעְבְּדִנַּהּ (according to 'the practical talmud dictionary' by Frank, נֵהוֹר is a light).

  • 1
    Just a note...if the OP asked this question, he probably doesn't have enough Hebrew skills to translate Rashi....it may be helpful to translate these sources you've provided him with
    – MTL
    Jun 11, 2014 at 2:43
  • Why are you highlighting "window" interpretations, when the asker seeks "gem" interpretations?
    – msh210
    Jun 11, 2014 at 5:50

R. Yehoshua Ya’akov in his sefer Imrei Shefer here writes a beautiful explanation that he heard, that the two explanations of Rashi of the meaning of the word צוהר - window or precious stone - correspond to what Rashi said at the beginning of the parsha, that there is a dispute about Noach as to whether he was a complete Tzaddik or an incomplete Tzaddik.

Because we learn from the incident of Lot and his wife that it is forbidden to look at the punishment of others, but this is true only when a person is being saved because of someone else’s merit, like Lot who was saved because of the merit of Avraham. But if a person is saved because of his own merit then he can look at others’ punishment.

Thus, according to the opinion that Noach was a complete Tzaddik the צוהר was a window, since he was allowed to look out, but according to the other opinion he was not allowed to look out, and therefore it was a precious stone which transmitted light.

  • I saw this on two places the Torah Temima which I linked under josh waxman's answer which has a beautiful addition,worth reading,and the Toras Moshe
    – sam
    Jun 11, 2014 at 15:28

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