How Long Did It Take Noah To Build the Ark?

Short answer: The Bible doesn’t really say how long it took, but it was less than 120 years.

Bible Reference: Genesis 5:32, Genesis 6:4 and Genesis 7:6.

In Genesis 6, the Bible says that roughly 1600 years after the creation and Fall of Adam (if you count up the geneologies) that God saw that the world was filled with violence and wickedness to such that it repented Him that He’d ever made man in the first place! In Genesis 6:4, we read that God said, “My Spirit shall not always with man… yet his days shall be 120 years.” But Noah found grace in God’s sight, and it was to Noah that God gave the blueprint for the Ark.

But how long did it take to build the Ark?

Some people have made the claim that this passage means that it took Noah 120 years to build the Ark. Even given the Ark’s massive scale (roughly 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high), 120 years seems like an excessively looooooooong time to take to build the Ark. Most Bible scholars agree that God was saying that He was giving mankind 120 years in which to repent, after which would come judgment for their wickedness. This means that Noah had 120 years warning before the Flood. We can reasonably assume that God gave Noah the blueprints for the Ark at this time. This would also be when God revealed that a veritable zoo would be sent to him to preserve aboard the Ark.

More significantly, in Genesis 6:18 God makes a covenant with Noah, promising that he, his wife, his sons and their wives would be saved aboard the Ark. What makes this passage so interesting is that Genesis 5:34 notes that Noah was 500 years old when he begat his three sons, while Genesis 7:6 says that Noah was 600 years old when the Flood came. The clear implication is that God made a covenant with Noah that he and his sons would be saved from judgment 20 years before Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) were even born! (The Bible contains many such prophesies, so this isn’t unusual for God, who knows everything …including the future.)  

The maximum it could have taken would have been 120 years, but it must have taken less to also allow time for Noah to load the food stores and seed God told him to bring aboard. Since God specifically prophesies that the wives of Noah’s three sons would be saved aboard the Ark, we know it took at least enough time for all three boys to grow up and get married! All three boys were NOT born at the same time: Genesis 10:21 tells us that Japheth was the elder of Noah’s sons, that he was born when Noah was 500; meanwhile Genesis 11:10 tells us that Shem begat Arphaxad 2 years after the Flood and that Shem was 100 years old at that time. And if you do the math, that means Shem was born 2 years after Japheth.  The point being: we have to allow time for all three boys to grow up and get married, and they aren’t likely to have all fell in love and got married at the same time. These things take time!

Speaking of which, 1 Peter 3:20 says, “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” This implies that it took some time to build the Ark, though perhaps not so long as some have supposed. In 2007, Dutchman Johan Huibers completed the construction of a 1/5th scale Ark. It took him about a year and a half. He’s currently building a full scale version! Huibers has the advantage of modern equipment and building techniques, but Noah would have had a large population to hire labor from, animals to help carry loads, etc. Even if only he and his sons worked on the Ark, it’s unlikely the project took the full 120 years.

We do know that Noah’s faithful obedience to God’s blueprint served as a witness against mankind (Hebrews 11:7). We must remember that the Bible teaches us that God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:7). I think we can be assured that He gave Noah 120 years of warning and gave Noah the task of building an Ark with ample room so that any who repented of their wickedness might be saved also; however while God was willing to save them, they were unwilling to repent. The open door of the Ark reminds us of the Gospel message. Jesus said, “I am the door; if any man enter by Me, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Nevertheless, though the longsuffering of God in the days of Noah while the Ark was being prepared, the day came when God shut the door of the Ark and judgment came on all those who were not aboard. Likewise, the offer of salvation by Jesus Christ has a deadline. It is appointed unto man once to die and afterward the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

 Don’t be one of those left outside the Christ Jesus, the Ark of salvation. Repent and believe on Him.

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13

45 Responses to How Long Did It Take Noah To Build the Ark?

  1. Pingback: Answers in Racketeering (Does Ken Ham Think Noah Was a Millionaire?) « Exploring Our Matrix

  2. Pingback: Was Noah A Millionaire? James McGrath’s Theology Stumbles On Scripture | DefendingGenesis.org

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  4. How to paint says:

    So Noah starting building the ark before his sons were born? Even if you’re right that at the time he had his sons God gave him the command to make an ark, then it could not have been 120 because Noah was 600 when he entered the ark.

    • Actually, Noah received the prophecy of the Flood 120 years before it was fulfilled. Twenty years afterward (when he was 500 years old), he began having the sons the prophecy promised him. Nevertheless, we note that nothing prevented Noah from beginning work on the Ark before his sons were born. This means he had a maximum of 120 years to build the Ark before the fulfillment of the Flood prophecy. IF [and this is a big if...] Noah waited until his sons were grown to 18-20 years of age before beginning work on the Ark [and there is no indication this was so], he would still have had 75 to 80 years to complete the work.

      Thank you for your comment,
      revTony

  5. The closest the bible went to give us a little insight into how long the Ark was in the making is found in Gen. 5:32 where the bible declares”And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” and Gen. 7:11 ” In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” If one base his position on the above mentioned verses, then the Ark was built within a hundred years not looking into wether he had his children before or during the process of Ark building.
    From all the calculations one can conclude that building the Ark may have taken Noah between 100 and 120 years. Personally,the lenght of time building the Ark is not as important as mankind accepting the opened Ark in the new testament and the everlasting convenant which is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the. son of God.

    • Innocent Nwaubor,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      -Tony, DefGen.org

    • John says:

      You are correct, the only thing of importance is in fact, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his everlasting covenant, which the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave us through his atoning sacrifice, taking on the sins of the world, making it possible for each of us to return to our loving Heavenly Father, if we accept Jesus Christ as our savior and keep our covenants and the commandments.

  6. akeboi paul says:

    will the flood happen again..?
    did God protected the ark after the flood..?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      In Genesis 9:11, God promises that He will never again destroy the world by water [which rules out the idea that Noah's Flood was local rather than global; for local floods abound even today; if God made such a promise regarding a local flood, He would be a liar]. We can be assured that a world-covering flood will never happen again.

      The Bible mentions nothing about the Ark after the Flood. It may have been used as building material for new settlements. It may have been left as a monument or reminder of God’s judgment and eventually been lost as mankind moved onward. While there is a slim chance that the Ark waits somewhere in the mountains of Ararat to be discovered, I find it unlikely that we will find it. But it would be extremely cool if we did!

  7. Ben says:

    Dumb question, what would have happened if all the residents in Noah’s time repented, would there still have been a flood, & if only a few repented would there have been enough room in the Ark?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Ben,

      This isn’t a dumb question. Why Did the Flood Happen? answers the question of why the Flood happened: as a judgment on a humanity whose every imagination was always evil. But your question asks the great What If?

      Your answer is found in God’s answer to Abraham when Abraham asked Him to spare Sodom. Abraham asked God, “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?” and then asked God if He would spare that sinful city if there could be found fifty righteous men. God said He would spare it if this were the case. Abraham then pressed Him, asking if He would spare the city if there were but forty, then thirty righteous men found within the walls of Sodom. God told Abraham He would spare that city for forty or even thirty righteous men. Then Abraham asked God if He would spare Sodom if there were but ten righteous men. God answered that He would spare Sodom even if He could only find ten righteous men, but both Abraham and God knew that there weren’t even ten righteous men to be found in Sodom. God sent two angels to warn Abraham’s nephew Lot to leave with his family before judging the city.

      Short answer: God would have spared the Earth if they repented, but with only a handful of righteous people, a holy God had to judge a sinful world; however, He does not punish the righteous with the wicked and always provides them with a way of escape. Even Jesus, when he prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem [which occurred in 70 AD/CE], provided those who listened with a means to escape, warning them that when they saw a certain sign they were to flee without hgesitation.

      Hope that helps

  8. Ben says:

    Thanks for your reply, so the next question is will we listen this time?
    On a different note, the Church I attend has about 30 souls been going for over a year now, ( the Church that is not me) we just did something that amazed us all, we have what is called as ‘national reconciliation week’ for our indigenous people, but our little church was the only one to invite the Aboriginal elders to our service, & not only that but also the Mayor of our City plus councilors of the district, we even had our national television station ABC attend to film it, we got a spot (30secs long) on the 7pm news. The elders were amazed that we did this as no other church even tried. The Pastor put forward that our God loves all kinds, & that even though the Government has apologized, in truth the people have not, we the church members even wrote in 3 book’s that the Pastor provided apologies with excerpts from the Bible, they really loved this, my daughter even made a cake for the occasion which was done in their national healing color.
    That was the best service ever.
    I just hope the larger churches saw this & take note. Our poor Pastor was a nervous wreck at the beginning, but with Gods help everything went smooth.

    May God bless you all.

    Ben.

  9. Renee says:

    While the Genesis record shows that people back then knew of vast reservoirs of water beneath the earth’s crust (“the springs of the deep”), which have since been verified by scientists, I’ve long wondered HOW Noah confirmed – having been told by God of only the rainfall – that the flood started with the bursting forth of “ALL” these deep springs. Noah having walked with God, I think he knew that God had but to speak a word to make water instantly appear out of thin air..OR that, if God used only what He had created before, would Noah have wondered whether there could be several possible ways to flood the planet? So how did Noah verify it was indeed the springs of the deep, and all of them as well? Did he assume (correctly) God would use that means, or did he look out a window on the Ark from high ground, and see a distant geyser shoot up out of a barely visible sea, and after the flood deduce the rest when his descendants explored the nearest, altered coastlines? Or did he verify by mechanical apparatus all but lost over the ages?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Short answer: The Bible does not say how Noah verified or knew that the fountains of the great deep had opened.

      We may suggets that the most obvious way he might know this fact is that [a] the rain by itself was inadequate to cause the world to Flood over and [b] he saw geyser/volcanic activity.

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  11. blackxino says:

    THANK YOU very much for this post.
    I actually learnt very well to this and I had to look at the scripture carefully.
    Though you missed quoted some verse numbers wrong.

    yes Noah was 500yrs and started to have his 3 children. Shem was 98 when he entered the Ark of Covenant, he was 100 years when he had Arpachshad because you said he fathered Arpachshad 2 years after the Flood in Gen 11:10.
    I don’t know when God warned Noah about the coming of the Flooding or when he began working on it.

    Chapter 6 says Noah walked with God and said Noah had 3 sons, so we know that Noah was probably around 5++yrs old right now. And God spoke to Noah about the coming flood.
    Noah began building while the kids were so young or adult.
    Noah entered the Ark at 600yrs and Shem 98yrs.

    I will not estimate and say it took Noah 100 yrs or 120yrs. Because God spoke to Noah when he was somewhere in age 5++, his children would have grown to adult and have married by then. Because bible said the 3 entered the ark with their wives. So they got married while building the Ark.

  12. ifihadwings33 says:

    I have one observation. The ESV, NAS, OJB in 10:21 says ‘ to Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the ELDER brother of Japheth, children were born.’ I strongly believe Shem was the eldest.

  13. Abdul says:

    Lack of basic science knowledge is a curse today. These people here are literally murdering basic science. This is clearly disobeying one of the 10 commandments; thou shall not bear false witness. Believe what you want, but don’t be dishonest. How sad!

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Abdul,

      You really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. For example, consider the following post on one of my other sites: http://kcsg.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/why-evolution-is-not-foundational-to-science/

      • Abdul says:

        Tony,
        You know nothing about science. The site you gave is a first class joke. If only you could listen to Dr. Francis Collins or Dr. Hugh Ross, you would think differently. Just DNA evidence alone is enough to prove the theory of evolution. Please read about chromosome 2 fusions, its sequence near the central telomeres; why humans and chimps have the same 5th gene mutated in an identical fashion so that both can’t make vitamin C…..also several fish and birds have the same 5th vitamin C gene mutated in a similar fashion; multiple ERV located at the same location in many chromosomes etc. etc etc. You are either uneducated or completely sold out to dishonesty propagated by creationists. Your dishonesty will NOT go unnoticed by GOD.

      • Tony Breeden says:

        Abdul,

        I’ve read books by both Ross and Collins and I remain unconvinced that [a] millions of years of of microbes-to-man evolution may be genuinely reconciled with the Biblical account of history and that [b] microbes-to-man evolution has even occurred. I am familiar with the so-called evidence from the “fused chromosome”; I am also aware that you can only say it’s fused if you presume evolution is true from the beginning, which means you can only say that IF evolution is true then these chromosomes we see here in chimps later fused when humans came to be BUT you cannot say this proves evolution because it begs the question from the beginning.

        I also note that creatures that share homologous features will have more similar encoding, but so what? Does this prove evolution or simply that they had a common designer? This again begs the question of whether evolution is true.

        That site I gave was mine and I hope you’ll read it this time instead of just engaging in mockery, sir.

        One final question: Do you really think God approves of your holding to an all-natural theory which seeks to replace the supernatural creation account given in His Word and do away with the need of God as a necessary explanation for our origins simply because you say God-did-it?
        Think about it,
        Tony

  14. blue says:

    There is not enough water on earth or in the atmosphere to submerge the highest mountains on earth underwater. Besides it would kill everything, plants need air, saltwater fish needs saltwater and freshwater fish need fresh water.
    I would like to know, where did all the water receded to?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Re: Where did the water go?

      I’ve received this question often enough for it to deserve its own answer page, so look for that soon. Stay tuned. ;]

      Re: Freshwater fish

      The answer page for that question is here: https://beyondflannelgraph.wordpress.com/the-flood/how-did-freshwater-fish-survive-the-flood/

      • Abdulaziz says:

        This post of your reveals that you are either poorly educated in science or your agenda is to defend your faith at any cost (meaning being massively dishonest). People like Francis Collins and High Ross think your types are an embarrassment to Christianity. Obviously, your types (Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort) think Collins and Ross are heretics. I wonder what Jesus thinks about your types, which resort to massive DISHONESTY to worship him so that heaven is guranteed. Is that what a great God wants from his children……to lie?

      • Tony Breeden says:

        I’m not lying, Abdulaziz. Unless, of course, you’re saying the Bible lies about the creation of the world, the fall and the Flood. Are you?

      • Abdulaziz says:

        {My argument about earth being 6,000 years old is logically consistent and I believe every word in the Bible to be the word of God}

        How can any sane person talk like this, Rev Tim? Again, you won’t let me rebut. If you know that powerful truth, why are you scared to answer questions?

        1 Peter 3:15 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

        People call you crazy and other names because you show many symptoms that are just not sane at all. You don’t know what logic and reasoning mean. You don’t know much about science and you don’t know how contradictory your Bible is. No wonder many use harsh words like delusion, and madness.

        Love is Everywhere:

        Mathew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

        Mark 12:31 – The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

        Collossians 3:20 – Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

        10 Commandments: Honor thy father and mother.

        Leviticus 19:18 – “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

        Hatred, Immorality, unjust, Cruelty and Death Everywhere:

        Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.

        Exodus 21:17 – “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

        Mathew 10: 34 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

        Mathew 10: 35 -For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

        Proverbs 30:17 – The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

        Deutoronomy 2:18-21“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

      • Tony Breeden says:

        I note that you insulted me without providing the slightest shred of proof of your claims.

      • Abdulaziz says:

        Rev Tony,

        The GULO pseudogene has become one of the favorite arguments of Darwinian evolutionists against intelligent design. In their book The Language of Science and Faith, Francis Collins and Karl Giberson call this pseudogene “broken” DNA (p. 49). Because, in their view, it is “not remotely plausible” that “God inserted a piece of broken DNA into our genomes” (p. 49), the existence of pseudogenes has supposedly “established conclusively that the data fits a model of evolution from a common ancestor” (p. 43). Over at BioLogos, Dennis Venema has written article after article in the past few years, making pseudogenes his primary argument for evolution–one which he even suggests may be a “silver bullet” argument for evolution. – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/a_simple_propos075721.html#sthash.85WYZXM6.dpuf

      • Tony Breeden says:

        BioLogos is a group of religious scientists who are bent on disbelieving the Bible where it concerns our origins while arbitrarily stating that God exists and that the Bible is His Word. Oddly, affirming evolution undermines the authority of Scripture and places the “evolutionary creationist” as the ultimate authority over both the Bible and the all-natural claims of science. More here on my other site: http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/underminers-the-self-defeating-proposition-of-compromising-scripture-with-millions-of-years-of-evolution/

        As for the GULO pseudogene, here is the creationist response from the peer-reviewed Answers Research Journal: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v7/n1/human-gulo-pseudogene

      • Abdulaziz says:

        That paper you quoted as referried article for Vitamin C gene…..and not letting me rebut that………man,you gottabe the most dishonest person to list that as a referried article. What a joke, really. When will you stop lying?

  15. Jay says:

    Don’t forget that there was still the normal day to day things that needed to be done. Planting and harvesting, maintaining a home, homeschooling, the list goes on and on. The Ark was probably not a everyday project. There were other thing to be maintained. So it very well could have taken 120 years to build, water proof, grow and gather the food and the animals.

    • Tony Breeden says:

      My point is that is not necessary that it took the entire allotted time to complete.

      • Abdulaziz says:

        So, you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, despite massive scientific evidence for the age to be 4.5 billion years. So, you must conclude that scientists (most of them practicing Christians) are wrong and or deliberately lying. What a pity that the people who are expected to be truthful at any cost are the ones who resort to MASSIVE DISHONESTY to reinforce their beliefs.

        10 Commandments: Thou shall not bear false witness.

        James 3:8, “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The tongue can be the most wicked weapon on earth, so use it wisely and speak your words with caution. As Christians, we shouldn’t fill our lives with deceit. We should always strive to leave honest, open lives that are full of trust and love.

      • Tony Breeden says:

        So you would rather tell folks that the Bible bears false witness about the origin and chronology of the world instead, Abdulaziz? How does that not undermine Christianity again?

        Listen, credulous brother, science chained to pure naturalism can only come up with all-natural answers which may or may not be true – and are most certainly false where supernatural agency was involved. Since science cannot consider the supernatural a priori, it will never detect when it is wrong. God has given us a true and authoritative Word or He hasn’t by which to calibrate the all-natural claims of science or He hasn’t. Odd that Christians can affirm what scientists deny when it comes to the Resurrection, the eternality of the soul, the existence of God, etc, but not where it contradicts the Bible’s record of our origins.

        Stop being so double-minded!

        And you might want to read this as well: http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/underminers-the-self-defeating-proposition-of-compromising-scripture-with-millions-of-years-of-evolution/

      • Abdulaziz says:

        How odd that your response does not allow me to rebut. Basically you will deny everything because it would contradict what the Bible says. That is sad because you are being VERY DISHONEST about your entire life. It is you who is chained to the literal translation of the Bible and you don’t even know it…….may be you do, but then again….whatever.

      • Tony Breeden says:

        This site is moderated because some trolls are foul and abusive. For example, some use profanity and others just call me a liar over and over as if that’s an actual argument.

        I once believed evolution but then realized that pure naturalism, upon which the framework is based, is self-contradictory. Basically, those who affirm pure naturalism must also contradict itself by affirming that nature can do supernatural things: that everything can come from nothing, that life comes from non-life and that a frog can really become a prince if we just give it enough time and chance. Theistic evolution is any better, since there is no Biblical support for it; essentially the theistic evolutionist puts himself as the authority over both science and the Bible, deciding which is actually right on a case-by-case basis. For example, he affirms the Bible when it speaks of the existence of God, the Resurrection, the existence of the soul, etc, but denies it when it speaks of our origins, the Fall and the Flood. The naturalist is contradictory and the compromising theistic evolutionist is arbitrary. At least, my worldview is logically consistent.

        Think about it.

        No really. THINK.

      • Abdulaziz says:

        Logically think? Really? Resurrection? Really?

        Luke 24:40 – Jesus Appears to the Disciples
        …39″See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”…

      • Tony Breeden says:

        You’re going to have to be more clear in your objections. Sputtering and then quoting Scripture without connecting the dots does not a good argument make.

  16. Rev kimani samuel says:

    i have loved the study of noah

  17. robert johns says:

    where did they put the dinosaurs

  18. Abdulaziz says:

    You deliberately cut people off when you cannot answer, you deliberately quote false papers as peer-reviewed, you distort facts and you lie constantly. This is not meant to insult you because they are all facts. If you are afraid of facts, you will see insults everywhere.

  19. Abdulaziz says:

    Thinking is not something you can do; you only know how to read an old book again and again, without understanding what it really means. You are an insult to human intelligence. You are afraid of truth and you are a very DISHONEST person.

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