A lot of people have serious reservations as to whether the Ark Noah built was big enough to hold all of the animals God sent him to save from the world-wide Flood. This is largely the fault of an all-too-common image of a cute, little bathtub toy Ark over-stuffed with adorable animals, often with a pair of giraffes sticking out of the top. This well-intended Sunday School image stays with us as adults. The Bible gives a much different picture.
Genesis 6:13-22 states that God told Noah that He would send a Flood “to destroy all flesh,wherein is the breath.” He told Noah that he was to “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within andwithout with pitch… The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” He was to bring his wife, his son’s and their wives and two of every creature, male and female, “after their kind.” He was also to take food for himself and the animals.
In his book, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe has offered that only about 16,000 animals would have been needed to fulfill God’s command to bring in two [or seven of the “clean” animals] of every land-dwelling, air-breathing animal, creeping thing and winged creatures. Using a conservative short cubit of 18 inches, Dr. Woodmorappe believes that “less than half of the cumulative area of the Ark’s three decks need to have been occupied by the animals and their enclosures.” [p.16] In today’s measurements, the Ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high which means that it was big enough to contain 522 standard US railroad stock cars! In fact, the Ark has the same proportions as a modern cargo ship. A 1993 Korean study headed by Dr. Seon Won Hong found no fault with the Ark’s dimensions. Such a vessel would have been seaworthy and able to handle waves as high as 100 feet. God’s blueprints were more than adequate!
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Ark (tebah) is used only one other time in the Bible, as the name of the basket that carried baby Moses down the Nile. Some scholars think tebah is more accurately translated “lifeboat.” The Ark was certainly the only lifeboat available to survive the judgment of the Flood. This is a picture of Christ, our lifeboat from the judgment of sin. As there was only one door on the Ark, Christ is the only Way by which men can be saved from the judgment to come! [John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12] Yet Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost, as sufficiently and reliably as the biblical Ark [Heb 7:25].
For some people, the historical Ark and a worldwide Flood are stumbling blocks to accepting the Gospel. They have questions that have never been answered by the church; so their questions have been answered by those who dismiss the Bible as moralizing prescientific myth rather than as God’s revealed Word.
That’s why we’ve launched our new Noah’s Ark: Beyond Flannelgraph page to answer actual questions that we’ve been asked when we give our presentation of the same name.
- Were shArks on the Ark?
- Were dinosaurs on the Ark?
- How could dinosaurs fit on the Ark?
- Why didn’t all of the Lions & Tigers & T-rexes [oh my!] eat everyone on the Ark?
- How did they feed all of the animals Noah brought onto the Ark?
- How many people were on the Ark?
If you have other questions about Noah’s Ark and the historical worldwide Flood, please submit a comment on our new Noah’s Ark: Beyond Flannelgraph page and we’ll research your question.