Christian Living

Spiritual Life

What did Noah's Ark Look Like?

This is what the Bible says about the Ark that God commanded Noah to build:

“Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

“Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat… (Genesis 6:14-18 NLT)

The Bible gives the dimensions of the Ark—450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, assuming a cubit of 18". We also know that the Ark had three decks. So the overall volume of the Ark was:

450 x 75 x 45 = 1.52 x 106 ft.3

It is believed that Noah's Ark was the largest sea-going vessel ever built until the late nineteenth century when giant metal ocean liners were first constructed. Its length to width ratio of six to one gave the Ark the needed stability to survive on the high seas. Modern shipbuilders say it would have been almost impossible to capsize.

The early Church father Origen (c. 182-251), responded to a critic who doubted that the Ark could contain all the animals in the world. Origen responded that Moses, who was the author of Genesis, had been brought up in Egypt and would therefore have used the larger Egyptian cubit. He also fixed the shape of the Ark as a truncated pyramid, rectangular rather than square at its base, and tapering to a square peak one cubit on a side.

It was not until the 12th century that it came to be thought of as a rectangular box with a sloping roof.

God designed the Ark to be strong and to stay afloat. It probably resembled a floating barn. The total available floor space on the ark would have been over 100,000 square feet, which would be more floor space than in 20 modern basketball courts.

The cubic volume would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet [462,686.4 cubic meters] -- equal to the capacity of 569 modern railroad cars.

So, how could they fit all those animals on the Ark?

According to World Book Encyclopedia, "So far scientists have named and classified more than 1 1/2 million animals. Over half of these are types of insects and other species are discovered each year. Scientists believe there may be from 2 million to as many as 50 million kinds of animals alive today." However, the vast majority of these are capable of surviving in water and would not have needed to be brought aboard the ark.

In their book, The Genesis Flood, Drs. John C. Whitcomb and Henry Madison Morris say that only 35,000 individual animals needed to go on the ark. John Woodmorappe, the author of Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, believes that an even smaller number of animals would have been transported upon the ark. Woodmorappe explains that the word "specie" is not equivalent to the "created kinds" of the Genesis account, so as few as 2,000 animals may have been required on the ark.

ChristianAnswers.net explains that as many as 50,000 animals (including creatures that may now be extinct) could have fit on board the ark. These would not have needed to be the largest or even adult specimens.

They point out that there are really only a few very large animals, such as the dinosaur or the elephant, and these could be represented by young ones. "Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37percent of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people."

In other words, Noah's Ark had plenty of space to fit the animals, Noah's family, and all the provisions needed for a year-long journey.

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