I always recall learning that Noach's Teivah was a box-like shape. The secular world have always depicted it as a houseboat.

The secular site of the Teivah's resting place which is the most convincing - although of course not confirmed but has a long history of being identified as the Teivah by locals - is on a mountain in Turkey, near Mt Arrarat. There, a definite boat shaped impression is touted as the remains of the Teivah.

Are there any sources describing the actual shape of the Teivah? (not just measurements)

  • 1
    Hi Doodle! Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for the question! Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 1:02
  • Thank you! Looking forward to some answers....
    – Doodle
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 1:05
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    Note that even according to the Torah, the Teivah was likely not a box shape, see Bereishis 6:16 and mefarshim there. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 1:10
  • Do you mean the Ibn Ezra - (thank you for pointing me in the right direction) והנה התיבה כדמות משלש וראשו חד וכן מקצעותיו? What exactly does he mean? Also the Seforno: תחתיים המורגלי' באניות - does that indicate a ship-shape?
    – Doodle
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 1:15
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    Thank you. Would still appreciate if someone who is adept at reading and understanding meforshim would help me out.... Technical descriptions are really tricky.
    – Doodle
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 1:28

1 Answer 1


The supposed remains of the Teivah

Okay, I think I've found the answer.

The Teivah was definitively not a boat shape according to the Ibn Ezra, Abarbanel and Rav S. R. Hirsch.

Ibn Ezra:תיבה ולא ספינה כי איננה על צורת אניה ואין לה משוטים - a box, not a ship as it was not shaped like a boat and had no oars.

Abarbanel: והנה צוה אותו בבנין תיבה לא ספינה ולא אניה לפי שלא היתה כדמות ספינה עם תורן ונס ושוטין אבל כדמות תיבה ולא היתה מרובעת אבל היתה כדמות משולש וראשו חד כדי שלא תתהפך מהמים ולא מהרוח - and behold He commanded him with the building of a box, not a boat or a ship because it should not have the form of a boat with a mast and a flagpole and oars, but in the shape of a box, and it was not square but rather triangular and it's top was sharp (pointed?) inorder that it should not be overturned by the waters nor by the wind.

Rav Hirsch:תבה (a receptacle or vessel) is mentioned only in this story and that of the rescue of the infant Moishe. In both cases, a Teivah helps a human being survive in the water by keeping him afloat. The origin of the term is obscure…In any event the Teivah is shaped like a box or chest unlike a boat. It is wide at the bottom tapering toward the top, the reverse of the shape of a boat; for it is not designed to cut through water, but to be borne on the surface of the water.

As of yet, I have not found any peirush that says otherwise.

So the guys who think that the picture above is the actual fossilised remains of the Teivah can go and fly kites for the moment.

  • I’m told that Rashi agrees that it’s a box, but I don’t see where he actually says that.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 23:57
  • Perhaps somewhere else? would love to see a source.
    – Doodle
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 0:05

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