The LORD God Shut Him In.


Did God close the door of the ark?

The Hebrew word is סגר, pronounced saw-gar, which is transliterated as sâgar.

Now, understand that this list of meanings that follow is not like a smorgasbord, or a multiple-choice grab-bag from which you can capriciously choose whatever meaning suits your fancy. Some of the meanings are only for active usages of the verb, and others are limited to passive usages, or causative cases. The best way is to look at the list of possible meanings as examples of translations, and then endeavor to come up with a composite understanding of the vocabulary.

Sagar is a primitive root meaning to shut up; to enclose.  Derivative meanings result. When someone is shut up to a conqueror, they are said to surrender. A city under siege is closed up, and here then is the sense of deliver (up), give over (up). The word means to secure, to make safe, and to enclose. This might be accomplished by putting a wall or fence around a vineyard.

It has also the sense making pure or exclusive with all impurity "closed out" like "pure" gold. Or it could be used of a herd of livestock that is kept as a pure strain. We also see the word used of repairing holes or leaks – like fixing a compromised wall (1 Kings 11:27). Then it is used of shutting a door or gate (especially with that object of the verb plainly stated). Sometimes there is no object of the verb and it simply means shut (in, out, up, up together) in a sense of constrain and enclose. Then there is the sense of stopping  or straitly – again the sense is to narrowly close in someone or something.

We find the word SaGaR occurring 93 times in 88 verses. Let us examine the usages verse by verse.

First of all, the verse in question which is often read as if “God closed the door of the Ark. . .”:

  • Gen. 7:16 – “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”

The evidence of usage will show that the true meaning here is not that God closed the door, but rather that by supernatural agency God closed in the contents of the Ark, sealing it against leaks or damage. It was miraculous that it was leak proof. If our salvation was dependent on how well we build our Ark, we would all be lost. Thank God He makes up for our weakness and short comings. He helps our unbelief, and He saves us even though we often sin and we often have confidence in our own flesh and our own abilities. But none of this human accomplishment assures our salvation. We must finally depend on God’s mercy to close us in and seal us. “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to KEEP that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12).


Biblical Usage of SaGar (shut in – Gen. 7:16)

  • Gen. 2:21 – “. . . He [the LORD God] took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.” Passages referring to the closing of a wound (Judg. 3:22)
  • Gen. 19:6 – “But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.” Passages in which door (DaLeTh) or gate (Sha`aR) is the object of the verb (Gen. 19:10; Josh. 2:5, 7; Judg. 3:23; 2 Kings 4:4-5, 33; 6:32; 2 Chron. 28:24; 29:7; Neh. 6:10; 13:19; Job 3:10; Eccl. 12:4; Isa. 26:20; 45:1; 60:11; Ezek. 44:1-2; 46:1-2, 12; Mal. 1:10)
  • Exo. 14:3 – “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’” Passages with the idea of being constrained or trapped by any form of destruction or peril, as the wilderness (Ps. 78:48, 50, 62; Jer. 13:19?; Lam. 2:7)
  • Lev. 13:4 – “. . . then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days.” Passages referring to isolation for purification or quarantine (Lev. 13:5, 11, 21, 26, 31, 33, 50, 54; 14:38, 46; Num. 12:14-15)
  • Deut. 23:15 – “You shall not give back/deliver to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you.” Passages referring to the holding or restraint of a criminal; being delivered up to conquest or being conquered (Deut. 32:30; Josh. 20:5; 1 Sam. 17:46; 23:11-12, 20; 24:18; 26:8; 30:15; 2 Sam. 18:28; Job 16:11; Ps. 31:8; Am. 1:6, 9; 6:8; Oba. 1:14)
  • Josh. 6:1 – “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.” Passages referring to the securing of a city or fortress against siege (Judg. 9:51)
  • 1 Sam. 1:5 – “. . . the Lord had closed her womb” Passages referring to inability to conceive (1 Sam. 1:6; Job 3:10)
  • 1 Sam. 23:7 – “. . . he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars” Passages referring to being restrained, trapped or imprisoned; or secured, closed in a room, sealed (2 Kings 4:21; Job 11:10; 12:14; 41:15; Psa. 35:3; Isa. 22:22; 24:10, 22; Jer. 13:19?; Ezek. 3:24)
  • 1 Kings 6:20 – “. . . He overlaid it with pure gold. . .” Passages referring to the purity of a substance – having all foreign elements excluded (1 Kings 6:21; 7:49, 50; 10:21; 2 Chron. 4:20, 22; 9:20; Job 28:15)
  • 1 Kings 11:27 – “. . . Solomon had built the Millo and repaired the damages to the City of David his father.” Passage refers to closing up holes or repairing damages or breaches to a wall
  • Psa. 17:10 – “. . . They have closed up their fat hearts/ are closed up in their own fat.” Referring to a greedy selfish person, lacking generosity – a closed heart


On the one hand, the Lord God sealed in and protected those that were in the Ark. And on the other hand, those who were outside the Ark, were “delivered up,” or given over to the judgment of the Flood. Then too, like us, they were “committed” to the care of the Lord, closed in with Him and with Him alone. And there we stand.


Whether Noah, or Shem, or rising waters closed the door, or water pressure from the outside ensuring a seal with the covering substance Noah had used, the bottom line is that the LORD God sealed them in, as certainly as He seals us today.

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Comment by Carl Carlsson on March 28, 2014 at 4:46am

May I add that your reading of the text is uplifting. The thought of being secured, shut in where it is safe is both comforting and gives Glory to God.

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