“So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks’” (Genesis 6:13-16).
In Genesis chapters 6-9 we read about the global flood and the ark Noah is instructed to build by God in order to save his family (he, his wife, his three sons, and their wives) and pairs of every kind of animal.
Many Christians have been scorned, because they believe the account of the ark. How gullible must one be to believe pairs of animals just “showed up” to march onto the ark? Can you really believe a pair of polar bears walked all the way from the North Pole to somewhere in the Middle East to board an ark? How about penguins? Or kangaroos?
The Bible does not explain to us how this was accomplished, but if we believe in a God who created our world, it is not too hard to believe this same God could also make the boarding of the ark happen.
The amazing evidence from Noah’s account, however, is the ark itself. What did it look like? Genesis records specific dimensions as well as detailed instructions on how the ark should be built. This is not merely a little rowboat. Nor did it look like ships of those days. You do not have to be an expert on “Bronze Age boat building” to realize that marine vessels in those days were likely quite small, not able to carry large loads or many passengers. Likely they were not seaworthy enough to cross large bodies of water. In the New Testament people must have faced the same nautical problems encountered by those in Noah’s day. We read about the challenges they met daily while fishing on the Lake of Galilee, and how Paul was shipwrecked in a great storm.
In 1992, archaeologists in Dover, England, unearthed remains of a large wooden boat thought to be 3,550 years old (which would date it near the time of Moses). This boat is called the Dover boat. Its size is estimated at 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) long (only about half to two-thirds of the boat has been retrieved), and 2.4 meters (8 feet) wide. It could have crossed the channel, carrying supplies, livestock, and passengers, propelled likely by at least 18 paddlers.
This would have been a fairly large boat for the Bronze Age. Compare this to the ark. The ark was 450 feet long (as much as nine times the length of the Dover boat) and 75 feet wide (again, more than nine times wider). That makes the square footage of the ark about 85 times larger! Plus, the Dover boat is just an open row boat. In contrast the ark is 45 feet (3 decks) high – a veritable monster compared to the Dover boat!
The dimensions of the ark make it actually resemble – a modern container ship.
Shaped like a rectangular box with a 6-to-1 (450 feet to 75 feet) dimensional ratio, the ark would have had excellent stability. The normal length-to-width ratio of ancient ships was 10 to 1. However, Noah used the same proportions as we now use in modern ship construction. An interesting parallel to the size of the Ark can be seen in the well-known Titanic. The Titanic was 823 feet long by 98 feet wide (a 9-to-1 ratio) with a cargo capacity of 45,000 tons. It’s total capacity was quite similar to Noah’s Ark, though Titanic was somewhat longer and wider.
Taking the ark’s dimensions and using “a sheep” as an average animal, Dr. John Whitcomb and Dr. Henry Morris calculated the ark could have contained as many as 130,500 animals. They estimate the total number at about 17,600 (3,500 mammals, 8,600 birds, 5,500 reptiles & amphibians). They conclude the ark would be filled only to perhaps 27% of its available space.
Obviously many disagree with their calculations, but it is beyond dispute that the ark was large, especially for its time, and its dimensions and ratio’s are remarkably consistent with modern day shipbuilding. Certainly it displayed a technical expertise not known in the days of either Noah or Moses.
Moses lived most of his life in the desert. Likely the only ships he had seen were the small boats that travelled the Nile. How did he know these dimensions? How could a man of the sand conceive of a container ship? And how could he know the preferred ratio of length, width, and height of such a vessel?