How big was Noah's Ark?

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How big was Noah's ark? Let's start by defining a cubit. A Biblical cubit is considered the length between the elbow of an adult and their finger tip, which has been roughly calculated to being 18 U.S. inches. Quite a few scholars who study the Hebrew Bible believe a cubit was somewhere in between 17.5 to 21.5 inches long. If we conservatively assume that a cubit was 18 inches (U.S.), we can conclude that the ark was about 450 feet (U.S.) long, 75 feet (U.S.) wide and 45 feet (U.S.) high.

The interesting thing about the ark is that it was built on a 1:6 ratio. Naval architecture reveals that this is the most stable ratio for an ocean going vessel. The ark could have easily survived even big ocean waves and would be next to impossible to capsize. The amount of water the ship would displace, given a draught of 15 cubits, exceeds 22,000 tons.

The total volume of Noah's Ark was roughly 1.5 million cubic feet, which is equal to the total capacity of more than 570 standard stock cars used on a typical railroad. The ark's floor space would be above 100,000 sq. ft. (9,383 square meters). What God had Noah make would be nothing less than the BIGGEST ship of its kind for many, many years until man began to build even bigger ships in the late 1800's A.D.!

Number of animals carried

How many total animals did God want carried in the ark? Many who refuse to believe in what the Bible says state that the ship's capacity would be nowhere big enough to handle the millions of different animals it was supposidly required to carry. The truth, however, is far different than the rhetoric of those who are against God and his word!

How many clean and unclean animals would Noah's Ark have to take on board? What the Bible (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14) considers clean (fit for human consumption) and unclean (not fit to eat) animals is fairly easy to identify based on the characteristics of a particular creature. For example, warm-blooded mammals that have split hooves and chews the cud is clean to eat (e.g. Bison, Cattle, Deer, Goats, Sheep, etc.). Those that do not have these characteristics are not considered clean and good for man (e.g. Pigs, Lions, Tigers, Boars, etc.).

symbolize after
the flood?
How were
animals FED
on the Ark?
WHY did God
bring the Flood?
How LONG did
it take to
build the ark?
What does the
INSIDE of the
Ark look like?
In regard to unclean birds, God forbids the eating of those that are scavengers. Birds designated as clean and therefore can be eaten include Chickens, Ducks, Pheasant, Quails, Turkeys and others.

Those who are against God say that Noah had to take SEVEN pair of clean animals and SEVEN pair of the birds (Genesis 7:2-3) with him. How many birds were clean and how many were unclean? The answer to that question is found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. When properly understood, Noah took on seven (7) individual animals and birds (not seven pairs) of each kind that were clean. Since these were clean animals and clean birds that would be used for food later, it would be important to have extra breeding stock. There were three pair of clean animals and clean birds plus a seventh. The seventh one was to be offered as a sacrifice at the end of the flood (Genesis 8:20). If an animal were unclean, which the vast majorities were, then only one pair was taken aboard.

Contrary to what many believe and what "documentaries" concerning the ark claim, the ship would have EASILY been big enough to carry all the required animals. Only air breathing, land dwelling animals would have to be placed on the ark itself (Genesis 7:22). In the book The Genesis Flood, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris stated the following animals could have survived outside the ark.

  • Fish (25,000+ species)
  • Star fish, sea urchins and other echinoderms

  • Mussels, clams, oysters and other mollusks

  • Corals, jelly fish and other coelenterates

  • Sponges and microscopic protozoan

Other aquatic mammals such as the dolphins, whales, porpoises, and so on could also easily live in water and survive the flood. Many aquatic reptiles would also not need to be "saved" from the deluge. Still other animals that could survive the flood without needing to board the ark include shrimp, crabs, lobsters, insects, worms and others. Only a small percentage of the animals on earth would have to be saved on a ship.

The number of animals needing to be saved

Those who have written about the ark of Noah have arrived at various estimates regarding the total amount of animals the ship would have to carry and transport. The Genesis Flood estimates that 35,000 or so animals were placed on the ship. In another book written on the subject, Noah's Ark - A Feasibility Study, it declares that only about 2,000 animals would have to be on it. A conservative number of 40,000 animals, which allows for extra animals to represent those that have gone extinct, could still be easily transported on the ark.

Space needed for the animals

The average size of all animals, in general, is roughly that of a common sheep. One railroad stock car carries about 240 sheep. This would mean that all 40,000 animals (if we assume our conservative number needing to be saved) could fit in 167 railroad cars. The ark's total capacity was 569 stock cars. These animals would require LESS THAN 30% of the total space available! In other words, all the animals could fit on one of the ship's three decks with PLENTY of room to spare for Noah's family, food, supplies, and baggage. The following calculations, based on an ark volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet (43,006 cubic meters), shows the amount of space needed to accommodate a variety of animal totals.

40,000 animals  x  11.125 ft3  =  445,000 ft3  OR  29% of the Ark's total capacity
35,000 animals  x  11.125 ft3  =  389,375 ft3  OR  25% of total capacity
16,000 animals  x  11.125 ft3  =  178,000 ft3  OR  (kind = genus taxon) or 11.7% of total capacity
2,000 animals  x  11.125 ft3  =  22,250 ft3  OR  (kind = family taxon) or 1.4% of the total capacity

The need for a ship

One honest, basic question concerning the ark is WHY was it needed in the first place? What caused God, Who is the very definition of love, to take the extreme measure of DROWNING roughly one BILLION people at the same time? The Bible itself gives us the answer.

"And the LORD saw that the WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT ON THE EARTH, and EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY. And the LORD repented that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth . . . " (Genesis 6:5-7)

In the roughly 1,500 years from Adam's creation to God proclaiming man had only 120 years to repent (Genesis 6:3), humans steadily grew more corrupt and brutal. The consequences of their selfishness, lust, greed and disobedience - compounded by the fact they lived exceptionally long life spans - led to a preoccupation with evil. God, who saw the cavalcade of suffering and pain man endured - with no end in sight due to his sins - mercifully ended their ongoing self-torture.

Additional Study Materials
Did a race of GIANTS
exist at the time of Noah?
before the flood?
How did the deluge
lead to HALLOWEEN?
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