Often we see pictures of Noah’s ark that portray the ark as an incredibly crowded boat. The animals depicted are almost spilling out of the ship, and it looks as if there is no room whatsoever to move about. Sometimes such images are used to teach children—but the message conveyed (not the message intended, but the message heard) often is, “This, like a Looney Tunes cartoon, couldn’t have ever really happened.”
Yet the flood really did occur, and the ark, which really was built by Noah according to God’s instructions, was huge—more than adequate to house the people and animals who needed the ark’s security during the devastating flood. The shape of the ark resembled a massive block. It was
- 300 cubits (approximately 450 feet) long, the length of one and one half football fields;
- 50 cubits (approximately 75 feet) wide; and
- 30 cubits (approximately 45 feet) high.
Let’s do the math.
- First consider the floor space. God told Noah to build the ark with three decks. With the length at 450 feet and the width at 75 feet, each deck would have about 33,750 square feet of floor space. Multiply this times 3 and you get 101,250 square feet! The actual amount would be slightly less because of the thickness of the ship’s hull and the thickness of the deck floors.
- Consider next the area of the interior of the ship: 450 x 75 x 45 = 1,518,750 cubic feet of space; well, actually a bit less, again, due to the thickness of the ark’s hull. The space taken up by the timber used to make the floors of the top and middle decks, as well as the space used up by internal support beams, also would diminish the free space in the interior as well, but only by a miniscule amount.
Let’s say that the round figure of 1,500,000 cubic feet represents the space inside the ark. This would be equal to the space afforded by “522 standard American railroad stock cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep” (Answers in Genesis, citied in this article).
The same article goes on to state that up to 25,000 animals may have had to inhabit the ark for the duration of the flood and the time it took for the floodwaters to recede. Remember that only land dwelling creatures, and no sea animals, needed space on the ark. Some animals were much larger than sheep, but many were smaller, and some even a good bit smaller. Yet, even when the number of animals is assumed to be as high as 40,000, mathematical calculations confirm that even this many animals would not occupy 30 percent of the room the ark offered! Certainly the remaining space—70 percent of the total—would have afforded plenty of storage area needed for food, supplies, and other necessary items.
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