The Gemara in Menachos 94b says:

רבי חנינא אמר כמין תיבה פרוצה ר' יוחנן אמר כמין ספינה רוקדת

Rabbi Ḥanina says: It was rectangular, with a wide base and two parallel walls with an open space between them, like a box that is open on two sides. Rabbi Yoḥanan says that the shewbread was like a rocking boat, i.e., a triangular-shaped boat with a narrow base from which two walls rise at angles. Since the boat does not have a wide base it rocks from side to side.

Commonly demonstrated by Rashi with this picture: enter image description here

Tosafos seems to confirm that he knows exactly what kind of boat Rashi is referring to when he says ‘like our boats’.

רוצה לומר כעין ספינות שלנו

What type of boat is exactly being referred to here? There are certainly many boats and names for those boats, which one is this?

  • Don’t most boats have something similar to that type of bottom? Unless it’s a raft or the like, that’s the most hydrodynamic base to use, allowing the boats to move easily. I don’t know the Gemara in context, but I’d think even a simple canoe would fit nicely - you don’t need to require a giant ship.
    – DonielF
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:44
  • @DonielF I don’t either think you need to require a giant ship.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:46
  • So you don’t think a canoe fits the Gemara, and you picked the ship you gave in the answer because it’s the only one with this kind of base? Why?
    – DonielF
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:47
  • @DonielF it’s unclear how big exactly it is but see the part I added from the article.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:52
  • I picked that answer because I found it, otherwise I can think or imagine many items without knowing their validity, especially since I am no boat person @DonielF
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Like this:

enter image description here

See this article for a well detailed and researched discussion of this topic; concluding with the above picture.

Here are some of the highlights:

Finally, these comments by Les Saidels, who has done much research on the breads of the Beit HaMikdash, give some context to the difficulty caused by the V shaped diagram. In an email to me, he stated as follows:

“I consulted with a number of maritime archaeologists from around the 
world to try ascertain whether there was any kind of vessel that had a V 
shaped hull, ever in history, but more aptly at the time of R' Yochanan. 
As it happens, there has never been a vessel in history with a V shaped 
hull, for the simple reason that it would not sit stably in the water and 
would flop over to one side. The only exceptions 
to this are some modern catamaran designs which feature a V shaped 
hull but achieve stability from the crossbeams connecting the 

He goes through a lengthy analysis of all the sources and reaches the conclusion that Rashi most likely was referring to a boat with a curved bottom which existed at his time, which looked like this (picture above). 

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