When we think of pitch, we usually think of baseball, camping or music. It would be odd for us to think of pitch as the sticky stuff that is mentioned in the Bible. Instead, we might think of tar or asphalt. It’s probably been a long time since someone in America has said, “I think I’ll put some pitch on my boat,” or roof or wherever else pitch might have been used in the past.
However, the Bible does use the word several times and one of those times is in Genesis 6:14.
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. – King James Version
In the KJV, this verse actually uses the term twice in the same sentence. The first time, it is used as a verb: pitch it within and without. Today, we would use the term “cover”, like the New King James Version and most of our English language translations do.
and cover it on the inside and the outside with pitch.
The second time the word pitch is used it means the sticky stuff. God told Noah to cover the ark, inside and out, with pitch. He wanted to make sure there were no leaks; no water would get in. It is fully covered.
Hebrew for “Pitch”
Now the fun part begins. The Hebrew word for “pitch” is kopher. This word is derived from the Hebrew word kaphar. Kaphar is the word used for “cover”. So Genesis 6:14 might look like this:
And kaphar it on the inside and the outside with kopher.
Let’s quickly look at these words.
Kopher is found 17 times in the Old Testament. It is translated as pitch here alone. It is translated as ransom eleven other times.
Kaphar is found 102 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “atone” or “make atonement” 73 of those times. It is translated “forgive” ten times. It is translated “appease” twice. It is translated “pitch” or “cover” only in this verse.
God gave us the book of Genesis through Moses. Moses wrote this over 1,400 years before Christ was born. He had no idea why he used the term kaphar for “cover”, though he would use the same word 67 other times to mean “make atonement”. He probably wondered why he used the word kopher for pitch, though he would use the same word four other times to mean ransom. However, he doesn’t use “kopher” for the pitch that his mother used in his own basket to save him on his trip down the Nile as an infant. There, he uses the word “zepheth”.
Genesis 6:14 – Redux
So, in essence, Moses writes in Genesis 6:14 – Make atonement on the inside and the outside with ransom.
God used Moses to teach those who knew Hebrew about “ransom” and “making atonement”. Atonement is slathered inside and outside of the ark. The Ransom covers the ark and therefore all who go into it. The ark is the Salvation for those who would escape death from the upcoming judgment God was bringing upon all mankind.
Hence, the ark becomes an obvious type of Christ. It gives us a picture of what Jesus did for us. He made atonement, completely covering our sins, inside and out. He paid the ransom that covers our sin. When we receive him, we step onto the ark and we are saved from the death that would otherwise come from the judgment of God.
Neither Noah nor Moses recognized the part they played in God’s salvation story. Yet, we can see it thousands of years later. What a picture of Romans 8:28 – God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! God has been weaving His salvation story throughout history since Adam fell. He will complete what He started.
Let me know in the comments section if you have ever heard this before. Just a Yes or No is sufficient. Feel free to leave any other comment as well. Thanks! God bless…
Salvation was also,written in the stars as well as in Noah’s story.
But in no way does it indicate that you cannot fall,from grace or deliberately turn from God. God wil never stop loving us but,we have free will to turn on him and deny his very diety.
Revelations third chapter makes this clear ,take special note of verse 5
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing! I heard a pastor mention it just today for the first time so I looked it up and found your article.
Hi Natalie – I love that you are testing and researching what you are being taught. That is an important mark of a disciple! Keep praying, studying, testing, and growing! God bless!
Hi David, I also found your article as I was researching the connection between pitch and atonement. I am curious whether the pitch that represents Christ’s atonement etc, was a reason that the people didn’t try to break into the ark even before the door was shut, as there would have been a lot of people who collectively could have broken in, but I just wonder…
I first heard this meaning of pitch by listening to John Barnett who was a minister for over 40 years and now travels the world teaching the word of God. He is the best Bible teacher I have found on par with John Macarthur and Paul Washer. These are men we found after leaving the the Catholic church about 10 years ago. I was in my 50’s then and I was was born into that church. John Barnett has many Bible study teachings and after being in a false church so long and the Apostle Paul tells us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we should test everything, emulate the Bereans who listened with great attention and then looked it up, go the Holy Scriptures to see if this is true. He teaches this in a Bible study series called “The Greatest 52 Chapters of The Bible”. There is so little real Bible preaching like this today in local churches these last days we have to use this gift of the internet to find good teachers. David, thank you for expounding on such an important word and it is amazing this tells us of the future amazing atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ 1500 years befor his birth.
Have taught this for years. Great article. I was a pastor for 24 years. Most pastors don’t even know this stuff or care.
“Wow” … You really made my day! Only the God of the Bible could put the whole plan of salvation in one word. That’s how I see it. “Amazing Grace, Amazing God … How can’t you love a God that would suffer & die for you. I get so excited when I learn something I have not seen before … So many mysteries, and so many puzzles to piece together in that wonderful book the Bible. Thank you, for one of the pieces.
This is amazing just like our loving Father! Just heard this on Revelation of Hope Bible Prophecy seminar by Taj Pacleb. Thank you for sharing! Praise God!
I’m doing some research on the word “Pitch” and found your article. The Hebrew word “Kapar” is Pitch meaning atonement or to cover over. I can see how this word can be used in the Old Covenant but in the New Covenant Jesus did not atone for our sins He actually took sin away as stated by John The Baptist. The difference being, the old covenant believers returned to the temple to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings yearly because their sins were only atoned for (covered) but Jesus sacrifice was Once for all time. In a once for all offering sin has been dealt with and is not just covered but gone.