“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.”
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 toyArk 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. A cubit is roughly the distance between a man’s fingertips to his elbow. Using a conservative short cubit of 18 inches, [meaning that the Ark could well have been larger!] 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] The rest would have been adequate for stores, foodstuffs and the 8 human survivors of the Deluge.
In today’s measurements, the Ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. That’s hard to picture, but a few illustrations should give you an idea of how big the Ark was.
It was taller than a 3 story building.
It had a total deck area the size of 36 lawn tennis courts or 20 basketball courts.
It was as long as a football field goalpost to goalpost and about as wide.
If you stood the Ark up on its end, it would have been as tall as the Great Pyramid of Giza. [It was as long as the Great Pyramid’s height!]
It was big enough to contain 522 standard US railroad stock cars!
Proportionally, its length was 10 times its height and 6 times its width. 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].
One of the things we do at some of our presentations is a balloon experiment. It requires helium balloons, ribbon, a measuring tape and calm weather. When kids [and adults!] see that balloon climb 45 feet skyward, they suddenly get a greater grasp of how big the Ark actually was. We then launch balloons at heights that compare the heights of a giraffe, T-rex and other animals. This simple illustration goes a long way to sink the false image of the bathtub Arks that grace our Sunday school walls!