Ships of the Bible

Ships were much used in biblical times and are often mentioned. The Phoenicians made particularly great use of them for foreign commerce.

King Solomon constructed a navy at Ezion-geber with the assistance of Hiram’s sailors (1 Kings 9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:18).

Afterwards, Jehoshaphat sought to provide himself with a navy at the same port, but his ships appear to have been wrecked before they set sail (1 Kings 22:48, 49; 2 Chronicles 20:35-37).

Moses (Deuteronomy 28:68) and Job (Job 9:26) make reference to them, and Balaam speaks of the “ships of Chittim” (Numbers 24:24).

…the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir a very great number of almug trees and precious stones. —1 Kings 10:11 NASB

…once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. —1 Kings 10:22 NASB

ships shall come from the coast of Kittim,
And they shall afflict Asshur and will afflict Eber;
So they also will come to destruction. —Numbers 24:24 NASB

The Lord will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.” —Deuteronomy 28:68 NASB

…why did Dan stay in ships?
Asher sat at the seashore,
And remained by its landings. —Judges 5:17 NASB

Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven for ships… —Genesis 49:13 NASB (literally: for a shore of ships)

The world’s earliest ship was pre-DeluvianNoah’s ark, a huge, multi-story barge-like structure built according to plans supplied by God. It was not built for voyaging, but survival—preventing the extinction of mankind and Earth’s air-breathing land animals. See: Could Noah's Ark really hold all the animals that were supposed to be preserved from Flood?

In our Lord's time, fishermen's boats on the Sea of Galilee were called “ships.”

The Apostle Paul sailed on ships. Much may be learned about the construction of ancient merchant ships, navigation, ports and shipwreck from the record in Acts 27, 28.

When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.

The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care. From there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary.

When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. When we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone; and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. —Acts 27:1-8 NASB

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Article Version: September 19, 2019