The word “ark” refers to a box-like vessel. The ark was a modified box-shaped craft like a modern oil tanker. It was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (Gen. 6:15). Given a cubit of 18 inches, this would have been 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high.
It was three stories high (Gen. 5:16).
It had one window and one door (Gen. 6:16).
It was made of gopher wood and pitched within and without so that it was watertight (Gen. 6:14). Though we do not know what gopher wood was, it is obvious that it was a strong and pliable wood suitable for the purpose. The pitch was some sort of waterproofing, such as the slime or bitumen that was used in building the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:3).
The sea-worthiness of the ark
Was it stable enough and strong enough to withstand the raging sea?
1. The Bible says that God instructed Noah how to build the ark, and those who believe in an Almighty, All-wise God have no problem believing that He could construct an ark that was strong enough to do this job.
2. Further, about 1,600 years had passed since creation, and the technological level of man was doubtless very advanced. Adam’s first sons were skilled in city building, metal working, agriculture, music, etc. (Gen. 4:20-22). Men lived to long ages then and had one language so knowledge would have increased rapidly. At the Tower of Babel, God said that because of man’s intelligence and unified language, “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen. 11:6). The Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a large section that demonstrates how that men in ancient times had the knowledge to build wooden vessels with multi-layered hulls that could withstand the conditions encountered by the ark. Though some skeptics have claimed that such a large ship could not be constructed out of wood, in fact ships just as large as the ark existed in ancient times. The third century B.C. Leontifera, a fighting ship with 1,600 rowers, was between 400 and 500 feet long. Another third century B.C. ship, which was built by Ptolemy Philopator to carry 7,250 men, was 420 feet long (“The Large Ships of Antiquity,” Creation ex nihilo, June 2000).
3. The ark’s dimensions were perfect. The ratio of length to breadth was 6 to 1. Some giant oil tankers are 7 to 1. A model of the ark made by Peter Jansen of Holland proved that it was almost impossible to capsize (John Whitcomb, The World that Perished, p. 24).
The size of the ark
Was the ark large enough to carry all of the animals?
1. Noah only needed to carry a representative of each major kind of creature and not every variety within the kinds.
2. The following is a description of the ark if the cubit was 18 inches: “Its carrying capacity equaled that of 522 standard railroad stock cars (each of which can hold 240 sheep). Only 188 cars would be required to hold 45,000 sheep-sized animals, leaving three trains of 104 cars each for food, Noah’s family, and ‘range’ for the animals. Today it is estimated that there are 17,600 species of animals, making 45,000 a likely approximation of the number Noah might have taken into the Ark” (Ryrie Study Bible).
3. It is also possible that the cubit in Genesis 6 was larger than 18 inches, which would mean that the ark would have been even larger than the previous description. “The Babylonians had a ‘royal’ cubit of about 19.8 inches, the Egyptians had a longer and a shorter cubit of about 20.65 inches and 17.6 inches respectively, while the Hebrews apparently had a long cubit of 20.4 inches (Ezek. 40:5) and a common cubit of about 17.5 inches” (R.B.Y. Scott, “Weights and Measures of the Bible,” The Biblical Archaeologist, May 1959, pp. 22-27, summarized by Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood).
4. As for the dinosaurs, their average size, based on the fossil record, was the size of a sheep or small pony (Ken Ham, The New Answers Book, p. 167, quoting M. Crichton, The Lost World, p. 122). Struthiomimus, for example, was the size of an ostrich, and Compsognathus was the size of a chicken. Thus, only some of them were overly large, and of these, Noah could have taken the eggs or he could have taken juveniles. Even the largest dinosaurs were small when first hatched. Since reptiles can grow as long as they live, the large dinosaurs from the fossil record were probably very old ones (The New Answers Book). “There were probably fewer than 50 distinct groups or kinds of dinosaurs that had to be on the Ark” (The New Answers Book, p. 168).
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