Chapter 3 Noah
In about the ninth generation from Adam, (based on the bloodline of Seth) God decided to destroy the earth. Only one man his wife,his three sons, and their wives were chosen to survive. That’s not to say only eight people were worthy to survive. Other people found God’s favor, but were not allowed to see the other side of the flood.
How much information and technology made the journey across that flood? We really can’t answer that question. But we can look at what it took to build that one ship and get a tiny glimpse of the technology and skills involved.
I’m sure most people reading this book have been brainwashed into thinking Noah used a few wooden tools to make that huge ship. It may be difficult or even impossible for some people to see Noah living in an advanced society. Maybe more advanced than the society we live in today. I’m not talking computers and cell phones. We have not doubts, people in those days were blessed with great memories. Adam could remember the name of every animal on this planet. I’m sure those memory skills made it to and past the ninth generation. What about other skills? Mathematics is one of them. Let’s take a look at the ark to see mathematics come alive in the Bible.
Genesis 6:13-22 NLTse So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! (14) “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. (15) Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. (16) Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat–lower, middle, and upper. (17) “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. (18) But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat–you and your wife and your sons and their wives. (19) Bring a pair of every kind of animal–a male and a female–into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. (20) Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. (21) And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.” (22) So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.
Of course I used a Bible version that translated the size of the ark into feet. Something I can understand. For those of you on the metric system. Three feet and three inches is a meter. The ark is basically 138 meters long, 23 meters wide, and 14 meters high.
450 feet is as long as one and a half football fields. That is one long ship. It is not too wide, only 75 feet. Which just happens to be one and a half times as wide as a football field. This will make the size of the ark easier to envision. Since we are using a football field as a guide, the average football stadium can seat 80,000 people plus a host of vendors, security personal, over 100 players,plus hundreds of other people for support. Now we are getting the size of the ark in perspective. The ark was about four stories high.
Exactly how big was Noah’s ark? Let us start by defining a cubit. A Biblical cubit is considered the length between the elbow of an adult and their fingertip, which is calculated to being 18 U.S. inches (roughly). Quite a few scholars who study the Hebrew Bible believe a cubit was somewhere in between 17.5 to 21.5 inches long. If we conservatively assume that a cubit was 18 inches (U.S.), we can conclude that the ark piloted by Noah was about 450 feet (U.S.) long, 75 feet (U.S.) wide, and 45 feet (U.S.) high.
The interesting thing about Noah’s ark its construction was on a 1:6 ratio. Naval architecture reveals that this is the most stable ratio for an ocean-going vessel. It could have easily survived even big ocean waves and would be next to impossible to capsize. The amount of water the ship would displace, given a draught of 15 cubits, exceeds 22,000 tons.
The total volume of Noah’s Ark was roughly 1.5 million cubic feet, which is equal to the total capacity of more than 570 standard stock cars used on a typical railroad. The floor space would be above 100,000 sq. ft. (9,383 square meters). What God had Noah make would be nothing less than the BIGGEST ship of its kind for many, many years until man began to build even bigger ships in the late 1800’s A.D.! (Source).
I’d like to get a little deeper into the actual size and weight of the ark to look at a few details most people tend to neglect. One of those details is the length. The longer a ship is, the greater the tendency for that ship to crack during a heavy storm. Let’s look at that storm.
There is really no way to gauge the force of the storm Noah’s ark faced. All we can do is look at the world’s largest tsunami and let our imaginations fill in the rest.
On the night of July 9, 1958, an earthquake along the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle loosened about 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock high above the northeastern shore of Lituya Bay. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). The impact generated a local tsunami that crashed against the southwest shoreline of Gilbert Inlet. The wave hit with such power that it swept completely over the spur of land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay. The wave then continued down the entire length of Lituya Bay, over La Chaussee Spit and into the Gulf of Alaska. The force of the wave removed all trees and vegetation from elevations as high as 1720 feet (524 meters) above sea level. Millions of trees were uprooted and swept away by the wave. This is the highest wave that has ever been known. (Source).
I have no way of estimating what percentage of the earth caused that wave and flooding. But let’s say 1%, That would make the storm Noah faced 100 worse than the worst tsunami ever recorded.
With that said, Noah’s ark had to be stronger than any wooden ship ever constructed. Keep in mind, Noah’s ark was the first ship of its kind ever constructed and it had to be right the first time. The difficult part with this book is finding a good recommendation for the thickness of the hull. This is the best I could find.
The wooden portion of the laminated structure is preferably at least three-fourths inch in thickness, and generally ranges to about six inches, and greater. More preferably, the wooden planking ranges from about one and one-half inches to about four inches, and most preferably from about one and one-half inches to about three inches in thickness. Commonly, wooden planking of three-fourths inch or greater thicknesses is employed on boats up to about thirty feet length, and wooden planking of two inch or greater thickness is employed in boats of up to about seventy-five feet in length. Wooden planking of about two to two and one-half inch thickness is commonly used in large trawlers, and wooden planking of from three to four inches thickness is commonly used in North Sea trawlers. The laminated structure of this invention has been found admirably successful in the construction of boats of these sizes, and types. (Source).
Based on the information above, my best guess is the hull of the ark had to have been at least 6 inches think. That adds in a minimum safety factor for the stresses that boat had to face. Without getting into complicated calculations, my gut feeling tells me the actually thickness of the hull had to be 9 to 12 inches thick. But I am using a conservative guess so I do not exaggerate the actual weights.
I am not going to guess at the type of wood the ark used. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14 KJV). No one knows what gopher wood is. Popular belief is that it was a wood of denser fiber and stronger than any wood we find today. In any case, I am going to use the weight of oak for my calculations.
The fact of the matter is, men lived longer is Noah’s day. There must have been trees thousands of years old when Noah began his project. Those trees must have been huge. That left Noah with the option to build large wooden sections. On the side of argument, I am going to use a few basic, nominal sizes to collect a few figures.
If the hull was 6 inches think, the boards may have been up to 18 inches wide. To keep the weight at a minimum, the boards may have been 20 feet long. I am going to use the basic weight of 45 pounds per cubic foot for normal oak. A 6 inch x 18 inch board 20 feet long would weigh 675 pounds each. I have no idea how many boards Noah required to complete the project, but lifting 675 pounds 4 stories in the air was a feat for anyone.
What if Noah and his sons were larger than the average human being? What if they were on the average, 12 to 15 feet tall? The best guess I can find on the Internet for a 12 foot man is about 800 pounds. If that were the case, each piece of wood would be close lifting your own weight. Try and do that all day long. In any case, what about using simple tools like a hoist? That would mean Noah had enough knowledge to make a wheel. Ropes also had to be fabricated. Because men weighed at least 800 pounds, one or two men would have been able to hull a plank of 20 foot long wood up 4 stories with no problems.
What about the inside structure? Those beams and columns would have weighed much more than planks for the hull. The inside columns would have been much thicker than the hull. I would estimate their size to be at least a foot thick. If those columns were fabricated in one piece, they would have weighed 2025 pounds a piece. It would have been impossible for even 15 feet tall men to put those columns in place, and balance a piece of lumber three times their height. Noah had to build something to aid construction.
Keeping to basic terms and questions about the construction of the ark, how did Noah fasten those pieces of wood together? Some people insist Noah had a primitive mind and skills. Some people suggest he used wooden pegs to hold the ark together. Would you trust wooden pegs in a ship that would sail through the worst floods this world had ever seen? I wouldn’t. Modern wooden ships use brass screws. They do not rust and are strong enough to withstand some shocks. Noah had to posses the technology, tools, and machinery to make screws. If people could build cities with doors, they needed hinges, along with other accessories. I’m not suggesting Noah had lathes and milling machines. But he could have had cutting dies and other simple tooling. This required a material harder and stronger than brass. The iron mentioned earlier in Genesis had plenty of time to be refined, fine tuned, and fashioned into a number of different qualities based on their use and available alloys.
The decks inside the ark could have been designed to use an interior support system made of a three piece column. This would have required a wider column to allow for a stronger attachment point, and designed with gussets for additional strength. In either case, beams between the columns would have been made in a single piece offering the greatest degree of stability. I would estimate those 75 foot long beams to be at least 12 inches think by 24 inches high. They would weigh 6750 pounds a piece. That would require some heavy lifting in anyone’s book. In the very least that would require a double pulley system.
Once it was fabricated and lifted, each column and beam had to be placed in the proper position. Chances are, all of those pieces were notched in one way or another to offer the greatest amount of strength and a stable fit. That would have required basic tools and jigs. Masters had to be fabricated for both male and female parts of each joint. Noah had to have access to, or the ability to make reliable cutting tools.
Glue and adhesive may have been another added feature in the ark. Many glues are made from plants. That was also a likely possibility in Noah’s day.
Some people think the ark was a basic square shape. I believe the ark was fashioned more like a ship utilizing curves and angles. I’m sure God chose a man with the basic concept of geometry and trigonometry. Noah would have taken all of those skills and knowledge with him into the ark and the newly formed world.
Let’s look at the shape for a moment from an engineering concept. Would a square shape float? Of course it would. As a matter of fact a square shape would offer more room. Then why are ships curved? Ships are curved in the front to cut down on friction and allow the ship to slice through water. The curved and angled shape helps increase the speed the ship can travel through water. Although Noah wasn’t concerned with speed, because God guided the ark with His hand, a curved bottom and bow would reduce stress on the hull and structure. When a wave hits the left side of the boat on a square ship, the boat has no choice but to displace that amount of water on the opposite side. With a curved hull the boat can slice through water with reduced friction and of course reduced stress on the hull and structure.
It would be more labor intensive to build a curved hull. Columns would have to be designed to precise dimensions. Some of the columns would be the same size, but many would have different curves. At best, the back of the ship would have a number of columns sharing the same size and shape. As Noah progressed along the shape of the curved hull, he would have to calculate, fabricate, and install the next set of columns, so on and so forth. I’m not sure exactly how ships are designed and built. With a scaled drawing, the correct sizes may be able to be produced and installed the first time. Without a precise drawing, it boils down to trail and error. Based on the fact Noah had no ship building experience, the square shape appears to make more sense.
But when we consider the unimaginable forces on the hull and structure, fastening and reinforcing corners on a square ship would have been a nightmare to the most experienced ship builder. How would you prepare the corners of a square ship to face the forces of the world’s greatest flood? Do you butt the corners together and hope for the best? Do you miter or notch them? Notched, glued and fastened corners offer the greatest strength, but would take the longest amount of time to manufacture and fit. In either case, the ship had to be water tight as well as exponentially sea worthy.
Let’s take a brief look at a few other factors God had to help Noah set up to build that huge ark. When God said, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 KJV). That has to conjurer up images in everyone’s mind. Personally speaking, that sets up an image of government control, laws, rules, regulations, and of course taxes. To build an ark of that size it required a large space and a lot of wood.
It is nearly impossible to set an accurate date, I mean year when Noah began building the ark. Look on the Internet and you will see dates varying by thousands of years. We can agree, Noah was the 9th generation from Adam. That safely places Noah about 1000 years after creation week.
Another factor we have to consider whenever we study any subject in the Bible is the general attitude the subject and scriptures are approached with. If you have your mind set on evolution, you are only going to look for facts supporting evolution. Even if you believe in creation, you run the risk of having bits and pieces of evolution creep into your subconscious. In other words, mainstream thought runs parallel to evolution. The idea that people before the flood were primitive, almost stone age is generally acceptable. Although that stone age mentality flies in the face of a Creator God who spoke the world, including the sun, moon, and stars into existence in less than a week, people are constantly striving to reach compromises between creation and evolution. The gap theory that places thousands or millions of years between certain verses in Genesis chapter 1 is one example. Movies, books,pictures, and cartoons that depict Noah and his sons in stone age clothing using wooden hammers and wooden pegs to assemble the ark are factors that help sway the mind into an evolutionary thinking mode. Let’s face it, getting rid of that evolutionary train of thought is difficult if not impossible. Even the most devout Christian has the tendency of replacing evolutionary thought patterns with the, “I don’t want to offend anyone,” mentality. Let’s get rid of those evolutionary thought patterns for a moment and concentrate on a positive creational investigation.
We can pick a date for the ark. Since I like round figures, let’s choose 1000 years. Noah lived about 1000 years after the creation of this world. Let’s be serious and give God the benefit of doubt here. God created Adam the first man in His image. In the Image of the God who designed, engineered, and created all the grass, plants, trees, flowers, insects, fish, birds, and animals in the world. God is an artist, engineer, mathematician, creator, and God did every right the first time. God had infinite knowledge to teach and share with Adam, who was intelligent enough to name all the animals and remember each of those names. There is not doubt Adam had a brain. There is no doubt God could design and calculate complicated equations much faster than any Windows or Apple computer could ever hope to achieve. God gave Adam a mind much sharper and quicker than any computer.
Let’s take a look at how far this would could have advanced in 1000 years. Before the flood people lived much longer. People lived for 700 years and longer. That is generally about 10 times longer than the average human today. So advancements would have come at a much faster rate than scientist today are able to estimate.
The United State was once known as the new land. The US was settled a well over 200 years ago. Let’s look at the past 200 years of America’s history. The Revolutionary war was fought with muskets and cannon balls. Look at what we have for weapons of war today. 200 years ago ships had sails. Today they are made of special steel alloys and are nuclear powered. 200 years ago only a small portion of the US was settled. Today we have roads and railway tracks stretching from one ocean to the other. We have planes that fly from one coast to the other in a matter of hours. We have cell phones with reception in the majority of the land. All of that happened in about 200 years. How far did mankind advance in 1000 years since Adam?
Once again, we have to put that evolutionary mentality behind us and examine a few facts in the Bible. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:17 KJV). It took only 2 generation for Cain’s descendants to begin building cities. A few generations later we see brass, iron, musical instruments, and weapons of war introduced. ‘
If we can remove the worldly views of a primitive, backwards tribe roaming a desert wilderness to eek out a living, we can begin to image the world the way God created it, and what mankind did with all of those resources. God did not create a world with one garden surrounded by desert wasteland like we see in movies and cartoons. The entire world was covered with vegetation. The earth’s axis was not tilted until after the flood. There were no seasons of temperature extremes like we see today. For us, that is difficult to imagine. But I want to concentrate on a few other details.
“The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 KJV). That tells me God had other plans for this world. God had a civilized society in mind for this world with everyone living in harmony. That requires laws. Not long after leaving Egypt, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments. To build a new nation, Israel needed laws. Moses spent more than a month on that mountain receiving a set of laws directly from God. To think those laws and commandments were not in place before the flood is ludicrous.
Because Cain and his descendants turned their backs on God, Cain was likely to reject God’s law and create a set of his own. The Bible testifies to that fact. After a few generations of marriages between the descendants of Cain and Seth, God’s laws were compromised, altered, added to, and in the eyes of mere humans, improved. When evil thoughts step in, those improvements to God’s law benefit whom? The few in charge of course.
In other words, we have to consider the fact Noah had to face a structured government and work within their laws to get land and permits to build his ark. And I would bet, the government didn’t like or appreciate Noah’s ideas.
God had to be on Noah’s side to choose and purchase the right site to build that ark. The land had to be flat and contain enough of the right type of trees to get the job done. Land had to be purchased and permits obtained. Look at the US. There are more regulations on timber than cigarettes, alcohol, and firearms combined. Of course I’m exaggerating. But you get the point. God had to set up a ton of details in the background to get that ark off the ground.
I wish we knew more about the tools and technology Noah had to build that ark. But the Bible provided few details. We do have one thing. We do have the ability to remember details like Adam had when he named all those animals. That memory has been digressing over the years. Today the younger generation has little need to exercise those memory cells in the brain. All they want to do is pick up a cell phone and say, “hey Google.” The image of God we were created in has been replaced by the largest advertising agency this world has ever seen. I wish we knew what all those evil thoughts before the flood were about. That way we could at least try to avoid that path. But it seems like we are left on our own. To think, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden for eating a fruit that gave them the knowledge of good and evil. Notice that was good and evil. It appears that 9 generations after Adam this world forgot the good and only remembered or worked on the evil. Where are we now on that line between good and evil?