Friday, February 18, 2011

How Big Was Noah's Ark? - Genesis 6:15-16

How big was Noah's ark? Could the ark really have held thousands of animals? Exactly how much space did the ark actually take up? Genesis 6:15-16 provides answers to these questions:
This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. (Genesis 6:15-16)
In order to grasp the size of the ark, this question must be answered: How big is a cubit? The answer to this question, as might be expected, has often been debated. Some think that the cubit in this passage is about 18 inches in length. Others think that the cubit in this passage is around 22 inches in length. It's the safest option simply to make measurements with the 18 inch cubit, but it should be kept in mind that the cubit in this passage might have been larger.

Assuming that a cubit is about 18 inches in length, calculations can be made with ease. The ark was 450 feet in length, 75 feet in width, and 45 feet in height. The floor area of each of the three decks of the ark was about 33,750 square feet. Summing up the area of all three decks gives an enormous floor area of 101,250 square feet!

At 1,518,750 cubic feet, the volume of the ark was absolutely massive. To put that into perspective, Noah's ark could have held about 11,358,765 gallons of water. It's interesting to point out that if the cubit in this passage is 22 inches in length, then the volume of the ark was about 2,772,917 cubic feet, almost twice as large as the volume of the ark with the 18 inch cubit.

This passage also mentions what seems to be a trivial detail: there was a window on the ark. However, this window does play a somewhat significant role. Once the flood ended, Noah opened the window. He sent a raven out of the ark through the window once, and he sent out a dove through the window three times (Genesis 8:6-12). Thus, while the dimensions of the window are not given, it can be safely assumed that the window was at least as large as a raven or dove.

Related Posts:
God's Ark Which Noah Built - Genesis 6:14
Noah Sends Out An Unsymbolical Dove - Genesis 8:8-12
The Coming Flood of the Pre-Flood World - Genesis 6:17
State of the World (2948 BC): Noah's Birth - Genesis 5:28
Man in the Image of Man - Genesis 5:3


  1. And that's enough room for (at the very, very, least) four million living animals? Not forgetting, of course, enough food, water, space, and some means of preventing the predators from harming the weaker animals?

  2. First, Scripture indicates that animals before the flood did not eat meat. See this post for more info on that:

    Also, Genesis 6:19 indicates that two of each kind of animal entered the ark. It would be wrong to assume that this meant every single slight variation. For instance, only one kind of dog would have needed to board the ark (not every single breed which might have existed at the time). Also, remember that there were not fish on the ark.

  3. Since foxes, dogs, wolves, and coyotes share a common ancestor, Noah ostensibly would only have to bring two dog ancestors on the ark, and one "big cat" ancestor, etc.. Also, bringing baby animals would have made for much more space than bringing full-grown ones. A steady source of water wouldn't have been a problem, if there was there a way of catching it.

  4. AnonymousMay 19, 2011

    It's interesting and convenient to think the "predators" didn't eat meat until this was all over. So... the word predator didn't exist either. To say one big cat ancestor became all of the cats today states that evolution took place. Besides, if only Noah's family was left, they would have to be incestuous in order to procreate. WE ALL know that incestuous breeding leads to deformation and developmental disorders. Don't tell me this didn't exist back then. People didn't know about these issues until science came along, but that doesn't mean it didn't exist. Enjoy the rapture in a couple days!!

  5. Cain also was "incestuous," as one of his close family members was his wife. I have provided a response to this objection here:

    Also, the whole rapture on May 21st is an idea promoted by Harold Camping. A man who is certainly not recognized as orthodox. This is a good blog post on the subject if you are interested in going to a more in depth level:

  6. Well, there's a difference between a gradual diversification within a biological family/genus, and within that particular genus, diversification of species (called microevolution) and a gradual change between whole domains entirely (called macroevolution). It doesn't take an evolutionary scientist to agree with microevolution; it takes anyone with eyes. It makes sense that God would supply His creatures with the ability to adapt for conditions- while still remaining the same basic creature.

  7. Did you say "Moses" opened the window, I thought Noah was driving. Also, any biologist worth their salt would tell you,that there is no way that every member of the animal / bird / mammal / insect / rodent / arctic / antarctic / tundra / desert species would have even travelled there without leaving evidence, let alone all getting on to a boat, half the size of the old "Queen Mary". Also, as wrongly pointed out by someone else on here, that only wolves were taken because they much later evolved into dogs, er?, I think not, try hundreds of thousands of years ago, not 3000.
    The waters supposedly rose above the highest mountain, that means Everest an 29'000 feet, hmmmm, so where did go after that then, some plughole we don't know about.

  8. Yeah... you're right, it was Noah. Scripture isn't exact on this, but I don't see anything that implies a mass migration to the ark. It was just a few from each species (a maximum of seven).

    The flood was a supernaturally induced event, so it's possible that some of the draining was also supernaturally induced.

  9. There is so much wrong with the Noah's Ark tale that it is disturbing that people can think it anything other than fiction.

    1. First, as a Christian I start from the assumption that God exists. Therefore, the supernatural exists. Hence, there are miracles. Perhaps the Flood was a miracle. God could have created water out of nothing for the Flood and then destroyed it after the Flood.

      Second, even though it seems that a worldwide flood probably involved some supernatural act at some point, I'm not sure a supernatural act was needed to create enough water to flood the earth. I think the numbers work out and that he is probably not taking a large amount of water into consideration.

      I'm not sure that the site he is pulling his data from accounts for water that might be underground:
      There is a lot of water underground, and I'm not sure how good of an estimate we can get of it. However, from my limited research, there seems to be quite a bit. For instance, take a look at this article:
      Adding in this additional amount of water would make the total amount of water on earth enough to reach right around the height of Mount Everest (assuming this was needed; for all we know, Mount Everest could have formed due to some cataclysmic event caused by the Flood).