The Bible tells us that the Ark was 300 cubits long, 50 wide, and 30 high. These measurements are not easy to calculate with today’s size units, but we can get a rough idea by taking some dimensions from modern-day cruise ships.
The largest cruise ship in service today is 362 meters long. Approximately ten 300-meter-long cruise ships could fit inside the Ark according to the biblical telling of Noah’s flood!
Since people first began building boats and sailing them across oceans, the world has changed. Today, there are massive cruise liners carrying thousands of passengers and crew around the globe. When these vast vessels cross paths, they create an artificial ocean called the “high seas.”
Some mega-ships have more than enough room for their internal floating cities filled with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, hospitals, libraries, movie theaters, casinos, etc. A casino boat has been converted into a floating city, complete with its very own population – the residents of the Isle of Vegas.
If that’s not impressive enough, consider this: the biggest cruise liner afloat is 1188 feet (362 m) long and carries more than 2000 passengers. This monstrous vessel could easily accommodate the entire population of Egypt during the reign of King Herod. How big is your home compared to a cruise ship? You may be surprised how tiny most homes look next to these giants. We’re talking about hundreds of meters here.
As humans change over time, our physical structures must adapt or become obsolete. Just like cars, houses, computers, and many other products of human genius, our transport methods also evolve.
One example is the humble bicycle, which evolved into something completely different from its original form. But how did the humble bicycle go from being used primarily in country areas to becoming a significant part of urban transportation systems? Like many things, it started relatively small and gradually grew larger until it became ubiquitous throughout society. Bicycles are still smaller than cars, though.
So why do we insist on comparing ourselves to ancient relics such as Noah’s Ark? We want to know how large or small we are. After all, the Bible says that Noah’s Ark was built according to specifications laid down by God Himself.
Nowadays, we might not believe that because we’ve come up with many possible explanations for everything else. But when it comes to the size of Noah’s Ark, the story seems to make sense. Here’s how to estimate the approximate size of Noah’s Ark using simple math.
What Is A Cubit And Why Does It Matter?
Before we begin, let me explain what a “cubit” is. The International System of Units (SI) defines a cubic inch as 1/3 liter. So a cubic foot is equal to 33.8 liters.
Wikipedia defines a cubit as “the distance traveled by light reflected from the top surface of a vertical post when measured along the ground.” However, it doesn’t give details about where this definition came from. However, it cites a source that claims that the term’s origin dates back to Roman times. In other words, a cubit is any unit of length based on the volume of a cylinder.
Now that we understand a cubit better let’s estimate the size of Noah’s Ark.
Calculating The Measurements Of The Ark
According to Genesis Chapter 7, verses 2-23, Noah built his Ark 450 days before the great flood. He stocked it with two of every animal species found at the time, plus seven pairs of clean animals, seven male and seven female pairs per species. According to the Bible, the Ark took 40 days to build. Therefore, the Ark had to measure approximately 500 x 200 x 150 cubits, which equals 25,000 square meters.
Let’s assume that each side measures 100 cubits. Then the height of the Ark must have been no less than 30 cubits. If it only took 40 days to construct the Ark, Noah presumably didn’t take any breaks. Also, he probably wasn’t working alone.
Therefore, Noah needed to work 24 hours daily for 40 days straight without stopping. Even assuming eight-hour shifts, that gives him a total of 480 man-hours. Divide 480 by 60 (the number of minutes in an 8-hour shift), and you end up with eight men working nonstop for 80 hours. That works out to 12 full days of nonstop labor. That’s quite a feat considering Noah never slept.
Of course, Noah’s Ark was not just made out of wood. Its interior walls consisted of gopher wood, acacia wood, and olive wood. Most likely, these materials were joined together using organic glue rather than metal fasteners. As such, the actual strength of the structure is difficult to determine.
Also, remember that Noah’s Ark was designed to float. Hence, it was weighted down with stones and ballast to keep it balanced at sea. Without the added weight, the Ark might have sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
Estimating Animal Numbers In The Flood Account
I hope I haven’t scared anyone reading this article yet. Nobody knows how many animals were aboard Noah’s Ark. No scientist, archeologist, or historian has ever seen the contents of Ark. They rely solely on estimates provided by historians and theologians.
One theory states that Noah brought two of every creature known to humanity, including birds, fish, reptiles, insects, mammals, and marine life. Another theory suggests that Noah only included land-based creatures. Still, another theory argues that Noah only saved four representative types of animals – elephants, giraffes, lions, and oxen.
To figure out how many animals Noah should have taken aboard, we need to compare the amount of food available to the amount required to sustain all of these creatures. First, we’ll talk about the quantity of vegetation.
We know that during the rainy season, there was abundant foliage capable of sustaining the animal kingdom. The size of the global rainforest alone is staggering. Scientists estimate that trees within the Amazon rainforest produce enough oxygen to support over 600 million individuals of various plants and animals. Other forests provide sustenance for millions more.
For example, the American black bears in Alaska eat almost exclusively plants. Black bears are famous for eating salmon, berries, roots, and tree bark. Salmon is a freshwater fish that feed on tiny crustaceans, insect larvae, and plankton. The average adult salmon weighs between 3 and 5 pounds. Assuming that a single bear consumes five pounds of salmon daily, a healthy bear must catch about three tons per week.
Assuming a daily consumption rate of three tons of salmon, it takes a thousand years for a healthy Alaskan black bear to consume the annual production of salmon. This same calculation applies to every other kind of terrestrial animal.
Next, let’s discuss the quantity of water. The Earth loses roughly 34 billion cubic miles of freshwater every year. This includes rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater reserves, and underground aquifers. The planet’s oceans hold 97% of this lost freshwater. So, if we take away the oceans, the remaining freshwater accounts for only 6% of our total supply.
Since approximately 700 million people live today, each person uses about 20 gallons of water daily. With this information, we can finally come up with an accurate estimate of the number of animals Noah should have carried aboard.
Using the above numbers, dividing the amount of freshwater consumed by the number of people alive today yields a value of 14,400,000,000,000 gallons. By comparison, the total amount of fresh water on Earth after deducting the oceans is estimated to be 13,500,000,000,000 gallons.
Since Noah’s Ark was supposed to house two representatives of every animal species, it stands to reason that it should contain twice the amount of animals as the Earth itself.
This concludes that Noah’s Ark was intended to carry 485,000,000,000 animals. Taking the same ratio of freshwater usage as before, a conservative estimate states that Noah should have saved 16,900,000,000,000 gallons of water. Therefore, the number of animals on board could be between half and double that number.
Why Did God Send All Those Animals?
It’s important to note that the animals Noah sent to save weren’t chosen randomly. Instead, Noah chose animals that represented every possible living organism. In addition, Noah picked animals that would survive the deluge and eventually return to the wild once civilization reemerged.
Some commentators claim that Noah’s Ark contained animals that lived in isolation and thus lacked genetic diversity. Others argue that Noah’s Ark includes creatures that aren’t good candidates for survival. Both arguments are specious since the real purpose behind saving these particular species is to allow them to repopulate the Earth.