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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2002


Not Your Average Boat

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Here’s a challenge. Go to a bookstore or library and find some books that contain pictures of Noah's ark. Take a close look at those pictures and see if they really fit the description of the ark that is given in the Bible. For instance, many artists often draw the ark with a whole bunch of windows, but Genesis 6:16 tells us that the ark had only one window. Often we see pictures of the ark having two or three doors, only one or two floors, and being made from two or three types of wood . But the Bible tells us very clearly that there was only one door and three floors (6:16), and that the ark was made only of gopher wood (6:14)!

When God commanded Noah to build an ark so that he, his family, land-dwelling animals, and birds could be saved from the Great Flood, He gave specific instructions about how big to make the ark. Many people argue that the ark was not big enough to hold all the animals. However, these people forget that God was the Creator of the animals, and He knew exactly how big the ark needed to be. God told Noah to make "the length of the ark three hundred cubits, the breadth [width] of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits" (Genesis 6:15). If we are to under­ stand the size of the ark, we first need to know what a cubit is. The word "cubit" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "forearm, “because the Hebrews used their forearm in determining the length of a cubit. Generally, a cubit was the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. According to our own measurements, a cubit would be about 18-20 inches.

Since the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, it would have measured approximately 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet tall. To get a good idea of just how large the ark really was, imagine waiting at a railroad crossing while ten freight trains, each pulling 52 boxcars, moved slowly by, one after another. Now imagine putting all of those boxcar s into the ark. The space available inside the ark would have held more than 520 modem railroad box­ cars! Noah had approximately enough room to carry not one, but two Boeing 747s (with their wings detached). Fortunately, Noah built the ark exactly as God commanded him, and therefore he had plenty of room for all of the animals and their food.



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