Articles and Outlines - Bible / Science - Facts on Noah's Ark

Facts on Noah's Ark

Author: Bill Crouse
Date: 6/19/2003 9:22:44 PM

CIM Outline #26 
                       FACTS ON NOAH'S
I.  Introduction 
    A.  Biblical Passages:  Gen. 6-8; Matt. 24:37,38; Lk. 17:26,27; 
     I Pet. 
3:20;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
     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 
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 
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 (
6:14) "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
      (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
          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 
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 
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
    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 
VII.  The Typology or Spiritual meaning of the
      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.  

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