Facts on Noah's Ark Author:
Bill Crouse Date:6/19/2003 9:22:44 PM
CIM Outline #26 FACTS ON NOAH'S ARK
A. Biblical Passages: Gen. 6-8; Matt. 24:37,38; Lk. 17:26,27; I Pet. ;II Pet. 2:5.
B. The story of Noah and his family being spared from a world- wide deluge (a judgement by God) is one of the most important in the Old Testament. Much is learned about the nature of God from this story. For example: (1) It shows He is a holy God and cannot tolerate sin. (2) It shows He is a just God and that sin will not go unpunished. (3) It shows He is a God of mercy in that He spares some. (4) It shows God's power in that the Flood unleased great power.
II. The Design of the Ark
A. The Designer was God Himself. We do not need to assume Noah knew anything about ship-building. The instructions for design are given in Gen. 6:14ff.
B. Construction Materials
The Bible says the Ark was to be built of "gopher wood". "Gopher" is the actual Hebrew word. In early English translations the meaning of the word was unknown so it was left untranslated. The NIV translates it "cypress wood"; however, this is only a guess. It was undoubtedly translated this way due to the fact that cypress wood is highly resistant to rot. What this material was is still a mystery. It could have been a pre-flood wood with which we are not familiar.
It is almost certain that Noah did not construct a standard wooden ship of the kind we are familiar. According to nautical engineers the longest wooden vessel ever built was 360 feet in length and was not seaworthy. Because of the wave action of the sea only wooden ships shorter than this will be seaworthy. Therefore, we must conclude that Noah used some other method of construction to overcome this problem.
C. The Design.
1. The Biblical word for Ark is "tebah". It is used 28 times in the OT and is only used of Noah's Ark and for the container in which Moses was hidden among the bulrushes. Because of a similar Egyptian word meaning "box", and the ultimate purpose of the Ark, we believe the Ark was not like a streamlined vessel designed to easily glide through the water. More likely it was shaped like a rectangular barge which floated rather low in the water. From the story in the Bible, it also would appear that Noah had no control over the vessel. He, and it contents were at the total mercy of God.
2. The Ark had three stories with only one door. The phrase in Gen. 6:16, "Make a roof for it and finish the Ark to within 18 inches of the top." is problematic in that the words used are obscure. Most commentators believe it means leave an 18 inch space at the top that is open all around the vessel. This then would be for ventilation, and when water entered it would drain out somewhere below, similar to the vents in cars.
3. The Ark was to be coated inside and out with pitch. Again the Hebrew word for "pitch" is obscure. It was more likely some resinous material used not only to waterproof the vessel but also to prevent decay. If Noah was 480 years old when God told him to build an Ark and 600 when the Flood came, it is reasonable to assume that the construction of the Ark took place during this 120 year period (See Gen. 6:3 along with I Pet. 3:20). The need for this preservative was essential. It is also possible that things did not decay as rapidly in the pre-flood atmosphere.
4. The phrase in the NIV () "make rooms" is also problematic in that the word is obscure. The Hebrew is "qnm". Since Hebrew did not have any vowels when it was written, scholars speculate that the word could be either "qinnim" or "qanim". The former would mean either "rooms" or "nest", and the later, "reeds". Most english translations translate as in the former. However, some of the better and more recent commentaries, believe it should be translated "reeds" since the context is building materials. If in reality it is "reeds", then somehow reeds were part of the construction material. Large boats are still made from reeds and are very seaworthy. The Egyptians still use reeds for caulking their wooden ships.
III. The Size of the Ark
(When considering its size it obviously was not the backyard effort of a primitive river-dweller!)
A. It is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. A cubit in the OT was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.
B. It's Ratio
The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize.
C. Its Volume.
With the shorter cubit the Ark would have an internal volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet, or the equivalent of 569 standard railroad boxcars. If the average sized animal was the size of a sheep it means the Ark could hold over 125,000 sheep. (Assuming the shape of the Ark to be rectangular there would have been over 100,000 sq. ft of floor space!)
IV. It's Construction
Though the Bible does not say, it seems reasonable that Noah employed a large group of workman to build the Ark. If Noah started building the Ark soon after God spoke to him, then the process of building the Ark may have taken close to 120 years.
V. It's Final Resting Place
The Bible says in Gen. 8:4 that the Ark came to rest on the mountains (plural) of Ararat. At the time Moses wrote Genesis Ararat was a mountainous region located in what is today Eastern Turkey. The Bible only gives a general location for the final resting place of Noah's Ark. Contrary to what many Christians believe, the Bible does not say the Ark landed on the Mt.Ararat of today. There is, however, compelling evidence from ancient history that the Ark landed on a mountain about 200 miles south of Mt.Ararat. Josephus seems to be referring to this mountain, and he claims it still existed in his day. An Arabic historian says the last remains of the Ark were hauled away about 1000 A.D.
VI. The Cargo
1. The Human Passengers. II Pet. 2:5 says 8 souls were saved. We assume this means Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives.
2. The Animal Passengers. In Gen. 6:19ff. Noah is instructed to bring mated pairs of every kind of bird, every kind of animal, and every kind of creature that moves along the ground. In Gen. 7:2ff. He is more specifically instructed to bring seven mated pairs (14) of clean animals and seven pairs of all birds.
a. The Number of animals. Only air-breathing animals needed to be included on the Ark. Authorities on taxonomy estimate that there are less than 18,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians living in the world today. We might double this to allow for extinct species. This would gives us 36,000 species times 2, or 72,000 animals. Adding for the clean animals, we might say there were as many as 75,000 animals. Earlier we said there was room enough in the Ark for 125,000 sheep, but most animals are smaller than a common house cat. There appears to be plenty of space for the preservation of the animal life. However, some creationists believe there may have been far fewer animals if Noah only took on board pairs of "kinds" as the word is used in Genesis 1. God created these "kinds" with potential for rich genetic diversity. For instance, at the time of Christ there existed only two types of dogs. All the diversity we see in the modern breeds of dogs came from these two!
b. The Care of the animals. Noah was instructed to include food for the animals (Gen. 6:21). How Noah and his small family could have cared for this large menagerie is unknown, not to mention the sanitation problem! What we must remember is that this event, i.e., the Flood, had supernatural elements. For instance, the animals came to the Ark against their natural instincts (Gen. 6:20). It is therefore reasonable to assume, as some creationists do, that the animals' metabolism may have been slowed down during their confinement, even to the point where some of the animals may have gone into a state of hibernation.
VII. The Typology or Spiritual meaning of the Ark
A. The Ark of Noah is a rich picture of the salvation provided by Christwho today is our Ark of safety.
B. Some of the points of comparison are:
1. God took the initiative in sparing Noah and his family. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8.
2. There was a divine and human side to the Ark as Christ is both human and divine.
3. There was only one door to enter into the Ark as there is only one way to God and that is through Christ Jesus. "I am the gate for the sheep..." Jn. 10:7. See also Acts 4:12.
4. There was great security for the passengers of the Ark. Likewise,if we are in Christ we are secure. See Rom.8:31ff.