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Size of Noah's Ark

QUESTION: How was the size of Noah's ark determined?


The circumstance of Noah's Ark can be found in the book of Genesis. As is the case with every facet of our lives, the Lord our God was in full control of the construction of the Ark.

In Genesis 6, we find that God was unhappy with mankind and it grieved Him. We find that God chose to severely punish mankind for his wickedness. Genesis 6:5-6, 13 says, "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain . . . So God said to Noah, 'I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.'"

While God chose to ruthlessly punish mankind for his transgressions, He had no desire to completely or totally destroy His creation. God chose to save the only living man who was free from such impiety, Noah. Genesis 6:8-9 says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." God made a covenant with Noah and his family, a contract that Noah would obey to the letter. God commanded Noah to create an Ark. Genesis 6:18 says, "But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you."

We find in verses 14-16 that God told Noah how to build the ark: "So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks."

Based on measurements given in the Genesis account, most experts agree that the ark had approximately 1,500,000 cubic feet of free space. So we can gasp the size, the ark would be equivalent in volume to 522 standard American railroad stock cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep.1

The number of animals which could have been comfortably carried aboard the Ark for the duration of the voyage is in dispute for various reasons with the number fluctuating between 16,000 and 25,000. Keep in mind that not all the creatures of the earth had to be on board the ark, only air breathing, land-dwelling animals. I am reliably informed that 1,500,000 cubic feet would equal the capacity of 570 modern railroad cattle cars. Most animals are not very large, so if we surmise that the average size of all animals is the size of a sheep and one railroad stock car can carry about 240 sheep, then we could fit 40,000 animals in as few as 167 railway cars. As the Ark's total capacity was 570 cars, then 40,000 animals would require less than 30% of the Ark's space. In other words all the animals could fit on just one of the Ark's three decks which would leave the other 70% of the ark's space free for animal supplies, Noah's family, food, and any personal belongings which may have needed to be carried.

It was God alone who determined the size of the Noah's Ark

Learn more about Noah's Ark.

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We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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