In Genesis 6:14, the Lord instructs Noah, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood." What in the world is gopher wood? I don't know... But the Greek Septuagint translates the phrase into xylon tetragonon ("squared timber"), and the Latin Vulgate renders lignis levigatis ("smoothed, possibly planed, wood"). As to the type of wood, suggestions include - among others - fir, cedar, and acacia. Interesting that all three of these wood types were included in the building of temples (Ex. 26:15 - shittim wood for the tabernacle [probably acacia], 1 Kings 9:11 - Hiram of Tyre furnished Solomon with cedar and fir trees).
Woods outside Jerusalem.
This leads to the idea of the ark itself being a type of temple. The ark joins a unique group of structures that are specifically designed by the Lord Himself. The dimensions of the ark are very similar to the dimensions of Moses' tabernacle and Solomon's temple (Gen. 6:15, 1 Kings 7:2, Ex. 27:18). The ark was divided into three decks, similar to the three sections of the tabernacle and temple (Gen. 6:16, Ex. 26-27). The word for Noah's ark in the Septuagint is kibotos, the same word used for the ark of the covenant in the temple. Those who followed the prophet's teachings were given access to the ark/temple, and were able to be saved from the sinfulness of the world around them. Listening and acting on our prophet's words will both figuratively and literally save our spiritual and physical lives.
Falling into the same temptation as Uzzah...
Did the ark have windows?
Genesis 6:16 reads, "A window shalt thou make to the ark," but the word for window is translated from the Hebrew tsohar. "Some rabbis believed it was a precious stone that shone in the ark" (Gen. 6:16 footnote a). Sound like anyone else you know who was in the business of building ships to save his family and was looking for light?
The Lord's answers to the brother of Jared's challenges fascinate me. The Lord had given him most of the instruction he needed (just as we generally understand what we are to be doing in life). However, the brother of Jared had difficulties just like us: "... the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me" (The Lord is very specific in the construction of the structures that save our souls). He continues, "And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe ... therefore we shall perish" (Ether 2:18-19). The Lord quickly gives the answer to one of the problems - make a hole in the top and bottom of the barge, and you'll be able to breathe. But He does not give the answer to his other petition. He doesn't say anything. So the brother of Jared makes the holes and returns to ask again about the light issue. The Lord then turns the question back on him, "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" (Ether 2:23).
That's a good question. The Mediterranean is huge, not to mention the ocean...
Some may say that the brother of Jared came up with the "glowing stones" idea by personal revelation from God. However, we don't explicitly see any sort of revelation (in fact a void of such next to the revelation about the holes). Others may argue that he came up with it himself. That may be true, but another possibility is that the Lord had already given the answer to another prophet, and he expected the brother of Jared to either ask the prophet or search the scriptures. Noah and the brother of Jared very well could have been contemporaries. Scholars date Noah's flood to around 2350 BC. If Noah was 600 when it began and lived to be 950, his lifespan may have been around 2950 BC to 2000 BC. The time frame for the beginning of the book of Ether is around 2100 BC.
Oftentimes the answers we seek may have already been given by the Lord to His prophets. Personal revelation is absolutely necessary for our spiritual survival (the hole revelation allowed Jared's people to breathe), but the prophet receives revelations that are also necessary for us (Noah's "glowing stone" may have spurred the idea for the brother of Jared's sixteen "glowing stones"). Following the prophet is absolutely essential for our exaltation. President Ezra Taft Benson said that "our salvation depends on [it]" (14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Ensign, June 1981). May we follow the prophet's revelations and instructions into the safety of the temple and onward to eternal life.