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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Could the Ancients Have Constructed an Object as Large as the Ark?

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Don Stewart
Is it reasonable to believe that people living thousands of years before the time of Christ could have constructed such a vessel as Noah's ark? Was the building of the ark an impossible task?

Biblical Dimensions

The dimensions of the ark, as given in Scripture, are as follows: The ark was fifty cubits wide, thirty cubits high and three hundred cubits long. Though we do not know the exact size of a cubit it was somewhere in the neighborhood of eighteen inches. This being the case then the ark would have been approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. The total capacity would have been about 1,518, 750 cubic feet.


There are believers in the Flood who assume that the ark was much smaller than traditionally believed. Arthur Custance writes:

I think anyone who tries to visualize the construction of a vessel 450 feet long by four men will realize that the size of the timbers for a building 45 feet high (analogous to a four story apartment building) would seem by their sheer massiveness to be beyond the powers of four men to handle. With all means later at their disposal, subsequent builders for 4000 years constructed seaworthy vessels that seldom have exceeded 150 to 200 feet at the most. The queen Mary has a total length of 1018 feet which is not very much more than twice the length of the Ark. It was not until 1884 that a vessel, the Eturia, a Cunar liner, was built with a length exceeding that of the Ark (Arthur Custance, The Flood: Local or Global, Grand Rapids: MI, Zondervan, 1979, p. 37).

Does Not Say

However the Bible does not say only four men built the ark. Noah could have hired workers to help with the task. In addition, it does not do justice to the text and to our understanding of the length of a cubit to assume that the ark was much smaller than the traditional understanding of the text.

Not Unreasonable

It is not unreasonable to assume that the ancients could have built such a structure as Noah's ark. F.A. Filby wrote:

It seems reasonable, on the natural level, to suppose that Noah possessed that constructive genius which manifests itself from time to time throughout history in the construction of something far beyond the achievement of a man's contemporaries. It was surely the type of genius shown by Imenhotep in the design of the Step Pyramid, by the architect of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, by Ictinus and Callicrates in the building of the Parthenon, and by Charles of Lindus in the construction of Colossus of Rhodes. If we reject the story, and say that the task was too great, and that no man could have stood out so far ahead of his contemporaries, then, we must reject the other seven wonders of the ancient world. Noah was only the first of that line of geniuses who designed and constructed something which far outshone the capacity of their contemporaries (Frederick A. Filby, The Flood Reconsidered, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971, p. 80).


Since there were many marvelous building wonders in the ancient world we do not have to assume supernatural construction of the ark. Neither should we assume that the ark was much smaller than the dimensions the Bible gives to it. The biblical account of Noah's ark is certainly reasonable. We should not assume that it was much smaller than traditionally believed.

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