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Discovery Magazine 4/1/1997

Noah’s Bi-i-i-i-i-g Ark!

When God commanded Noah to construct an ark so that he, his family, and land-living animals and birds could be saved from the Great Flood, He instructed Noah to make the length of the ark "three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits" (Genesis 6:15). If we are to understand the size of the ark, we must first know what a cubit is. The word "cubit" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "forearm," because the Hebrews used their forearm in determining the length of a cubit. Generally, a cubit was the distance from the point of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Translated into our own standard of measurements, the cubit would be about a foot-and-a-half, or 18 inches, in length.

Since the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, the ark would have measured approximately 450 feet by 75 feet by 45 feet. Ships of seafaring nations never approached anything even close to the dimensions of the ark until roughly a century ago. In fact, it was 1858 before any ship as large as, or larger than, the ark was constructed. In that year, Mr. I.K. Brunel built a ship known as the Great Eastern, which was 692 feet long, 83 feet wide, and 58 feet high.

To get an idea of just how large a boat the ark really was, imagine waiting at a railroad crossing while ten freight trains, each pulling 52 boxcars, moved slowly by, one after another. This would represent the space available in the ark, for its capacity was equivalent to more than 520 modern railroad stock cars. In its three decks (Genesis 6:14-16), the ark would have had a total area of approximately 95,700 square feet—the equivalent of slightly more than twenty standard basketball courts! Its total volume would have been roughly 1,396,000 cubic feet. Scientists have determined that a barge of such gigantic size, with its thousands of built-in compartments, would have been sufficiently large to carry all the land-living animals and birds God commanded Noah to take into the boat for its lengthy voyage of approximately a year.

The ark should remind us of the glory and majesty of our God, and the great efforts He made to save a portion of mankind from the Great Flood. Thanks to Noah’s faithfulness, and his determination to build the ark according to God’s exact instructions, we are here today!



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