Skeptics, seeking to impugn the integrity of Scripture, suggest the project undertaken by Noah in constructing the ark was simply too much for one man to accomplish, and insufficient to the task even if he had. Examining God’s Word, however, we learn that this was an entirely feasible plan.
Noah apparently had 120 years in which to labor (Genesis 6:3). Constructing an ark with dimensions 300 by 50 by 30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), if a cubit was equal to eighteen inches as is generally understood, then the total volume of the ark was 450,000 cubic feet. Built over the course of 120 years, that amounts to barely 10 cubic feet constructed each day – less than half that of a refrigerator.
Since the Sabbath was not known to Israel until Moses’ day (Nehemiah 9:14), there is no reason to assume a six day work week. Because rain was an as yet unknown meteorological event (Genesis 2:5-6), weather was predictable, and therefore work was not just seasonal. There is no indication that anything less than every day of those 120 years was available to Noah for work.
Noah likely had help. He wasn’t alone in his salvation, but was accompanied into the ark by his wife, his three sons – Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their three wives (Genesis 6:10, 18). There is no reason to think that all eight weren’t working together in constructing the ark. Moreover, Noah’s father Lamech died only five years before the flood (Genesis 5:28-30), and his grandfather Methuselah actually lived until the very year the flood transpired (Genesis 6:25-27), leaving open the possibility that Noah’s forebears, though they did not live through the flood, were available to assist in its construction. Additionally, there is no reason to conclude that Noah did not hire skilled craftsmen to labor on the project; just because they didn’t believe in it doesn’t mean they weren’t willing to be paid.
Although it was a massive vessel, the materials used in the ark’s construction were few and simple: gopherwood and pitch (Genesis 6:14). Its layout included internal compartments (14), three decks, one window, and a door (16). Considering the entire world was to be deluged (17), there was no need for any manner of navigational equipment, such as a rudder, oars, or masts and sails. Nothing fancy complicated the design or impeded the development of the project. Simplicity allows for swiftness of completion.
The undertaking was not limited to the use of crude implements for building. Noah and his family were not felling trees and sawing lumber by smashing rocks against them. The use of iron tools had existed for generations before the ark (Genesis 4:22).
Neither Noah nor his family were under any obligation to collect the zoological occupants of the ark. It seems the animals entered by God’s direction (Genesis 7:13-16).
Because animals were not a food source to man until after the flood (Genesis 9:3), there was no fear of man in them before or during the event (Genesis 9:2), allowing for peaceful cohabitation within the vessel’s confines. Furthermore, the same God who anesthetized Adam when He created woman (Genesis 2:21) could well have tranquilized the creatures who shared space with Noah’s family in the ark.
Whether the animals could even fit in the space allotted is easily explained by the possibility that only youthful specimens were present. There is no reason to assume full-grown adults of every species entered the ark as juveniles would suffice.
Additionally, the situation must be approached with the knowledge that fewer breeds would have then existed. Just as there are vastly more breeds of dog and cat now than there were a century ago, certainly there would have been even fewer thousands of years ago. Not every variety of feline, canine, bovine, etc. now living lived then. What Adam could name in less than a day (Genesis 2:19), Noah’s household could share the ark with.
Once aboard the ark it was not Noah’s duty to seal the hatch, for “Jehovah shut him in” (Genesis 7:16), protecting the people who obeyed Him.
It was a monumental undertaking to be sure, but Noah’s ark was, nevertheless, a realistic endeavor.
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /