How Big Was Noah’s Ark (Was Noah’s Ark the Biggest of All

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/13/23 •  14 min read

In the annals of ancient history, few tales captivate the imagination quite like the story of Noah’s Ark. The sheer magnitude of this legendary vessel raises questions about its size and scale. How big was Noah’s Ark truly, and was it the largest of all?

According to the Bible, God commanded Noah to build an ark with specific dimensions. In Genesis 6:15, it is written, ‘This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.’ A cubit is believed to be the length of a man’s forearm, approximately 18-22 inches, so the ark would have been around 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

To put these measurements into perspective, it is important to consider other ancient structures. The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the wonders of the ancient world, stands around 455 feet tall, making it slightly taller than Noah’s Ark. However, in terms of volume, the ark surpasses any other known ancient structure.

The capacity of the ark is also a topic of interest. In Genesis 6:16, God instructs Noah, ‘You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.’ These multiple levels suggest that the ark had ample space to accommodate not only Noah and his family but also a vast number of animals.

It is estimated that there are around 1.4 million known species of animals on Earth today. While it is not specified in the Bible how many animals were on the ark, it is believed that Noah would have taken at least two of each kind. This means that at a minimum, the ark would have needed to house around 2.8 million animals, not including the necessary food and supplies.

Some skeptics argue that it would have been impossible for Noah to fit all the animals on the ark, but the power of faith should not be underestimated. As Matthew 19:26 states, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Noah’s obedience to God’s command and his unwavering faith allowed him to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of building and filling the ark.

In conclusion, while Noah’s Ark may not have been the largest ship ever built in terms of physical size, its significance and impact on biblical history cannot be undermined. The story of Noah and the ark serves as a testament to the power of faith and obedience. It reminds us that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, with God’s guidance, anything is possible.

Key Takeaways

The Dimensions of Noah’s Ark

The dimensions of Noah’s Ark are a fascinating topic that has sparked debates among scholars and researchers. According to the biblical account in Genesis, God instructed Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family, and a pair of every living creature from the impending flood. The materials used in the construction of the ark are described as gopher wood, although the exact meaning of this term remains uncertain.

In Genesis 6:15, God provides specific measurements for the ark, saying, ‘This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.’ A cubit is an ancient unit of measurement, typically considered to be the length of a person’s forearm. Scholars have debated the exact length of a cubit, but it is generally believed to be around 18 inches or 45 centimeters.

The ark is described as consisting of three decks, with compartments and rooms within. This design allowed for the safe housing of all the animals and supplies needed during the flood. The Bible also mentions that a window and a door were to be included in the ark. Genesis 6:16 states, ‘Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.’

While some scholars propose that the dimensions given may have symbolic or ancient measurement system representations, it is important to remember that the story of Noah’s Ark is ultimately a testament to God’s power and divine intervention. Whether the exact measurements hold symbolic meaning or not, the story serves as a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness and the importance of obedience.

The story of Noah’s Ark continues to captivate people’s imagination and inspire discussions about the feasibility and grandeur of ancient structures. It reminds us of the importance of following God’s instructions and trusting in His providence. As we ponder the dimensions of the ark, let us not lose sight of the greater message it conveys – God’s love and protection for His creation.

Comparing Noah’s Ark to Other Ancient Structures

When we examine the dimensions of Noah’s Ark in comparison to other ancient structures, we can clearly see that its size was truly remarkable for its time. The technology and resources available during ancient shipbuilding were quite limited, making the construction of large vessels like the Ark a truly awe-inspiring accomplishment.

In the book of Genesis, God instructs Noah to build the Ark with very specific dimensions. According to Genesis 6:15, the Ark was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Now, a cubit is approximately 18 inches, so we can calculate that the Ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. This immense size is certainly indicative of the divine wisdom and foresight behind its construction.

While other ancient structures, such as the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Colossus of Rhodes, are undoubtedly impressive in their own right, they were not built with the same purpose as Noah’s Ark. The Ark was designed by God to withstand the catastrophic flood that was to come and provide refuge for all the various species of animals.

The story of Noah and the Ark is a testament to God’s love for His creation and His desire to preserve life. It is a tale of faith, obedience, and the ultimate power of God’s redemption. As we explore the scale of Noah’s Ark, we begin to grasp the immense task that Noah and his family undertook in housing such a diverse array of life forms.

In the book of Genesis, we learn that Noah was instructed to bring two of every kind of animal onto the Ark, along with his family. This was no small feat. Can you imagine the logistics involved in gathering animals from all corners of the earth and bringing them together in one place? It truly highlights the magnitude of Noah’s obedience to God’s command.

The Ark served as a sanctuary during the great flood, protecting the animals and allowing them to repopulate the earth after the waters receded. It was a vessel of salvation, ensuring the survival of God’s creation. This powerful story reminds us of the importance of obedience, faith, and the everlasting love and protection of God.

The Capacity of Noah’s Ark

The capacity of Noah’s Ark is a fascinating topic that has been the subject of much scholarly debate. While the exact dimensions of the Ark are not provided in the biblical account, we can still gain insights into its size and capacity.

According to the Bible, the Ark had three decks, which gives us a clue about its size. By considering the dimensions of a cubit, a unit of measurement commonly used at the time, scholars have made estimations regarding the length, width, and height of the Ark. It is believed to have been approximately 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (Genesis 6:15).

The structural design of the Ark is another important aspect to consider. It was designed to be a sturdy vessel, capable of withstanding the catastrophic flood. In Genesis 6:14, God instructs Noah to build the Ark using ‘gopher wood.’ While the exact nature of this wood is debated, it is believed to have been a strong and durable material suitable for shipbuilding.

Furthermore, the construction of rooms and compartments within the Ark would have contributed to its structural integrity. In Genesis 6:16, God instructs Noah to ‘make a roof for the Ark and finish it to a cubit above.’ This suggests that the Ark had different levels or compartments, allowing for the proper organization and accommodation of the animals.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Noah’s Ark is its ability to accommodate a significant number of animals. According to Genesis 6:19-20, God commanded Noah to bring two of every kind of animal, male and female, onto the Ark, along with food to sustain them during their time on board. This suggests that the Ark had ample space to house a diverse range of creatures.

While the exact number of animal species at the time of the flood is unknown, estimates range from thousands to millions. Regardless of the specific number, it is clear that the Ark was built with the capacity to accommodate a vast array of animals.

In order to address the question of whether Noah’s Ark was the largest ship ever built, we must delve into historical records and explore other ancient maritime structures. While the Ark was certainly a remarkable feat of engineering, it is important to note that there were other large vessels in ancient times.

For example, the ancient city of Babylon was renowned for its impressive fleet of ships. The historian Herodotus describes the Babylonian ship ‘Ninus’ as being 120 cubits long and 30 cubits wide, which is comparable in size to the Ark (Herodotus, The Histories, 1.184).

Debunking Myths: Was Noah’s Ark the Largest Ship Ever Built

Despite the popular belief that Noah’s Ark was the largest ship ever built, there is evidence from historical records that suggests otherwise. While the account of Noah’s Ark in the Bible has captivated the imaginations of people for centuries, it is important to approach its historical accuracy with a discerning eye.

One cannot deny the immense size and significance of Noah’s Ark as described in the Bible. According to Genesis 6:15, God commanded Noah to build an ark that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. This massive vessel was designed to house Noah, his family, and a pair of every kind of animal during the great flood.

However, when we examine the historical context and consider the available evidence, we find that other civilizations had also constructed large ships. The Egyptian Khufu ship, for example, was discovered near the Great Pyramid of Giza and dates back to around 2500 BCE. This ancient vessel measures approximately 143 feet in length, whereas Noah’s Ark, based on a cubit of around 18 inches, would have been about 450 feet long.

Furthermore, the Greek trireme, a warship used by ancient Greeks, was also much larger than Noah’s Ark. These formidable vessels were known for their speed and agility in battle and were approximately 120 feet long. While Noah’s Ark was certainly impressive, it falls short in comparison to these ancient ships in terms of size.

However, it is important to remember that the significance of Noah’s Ark lies not in its size, but in its purpose and symbolism. The story of Noah and the Ark is a powerful testament to God’s faithfulness and mercy. It is a story of redemption and the preservation of life in the face of destruction.

As we delve into the biblical account, we find that the flood was a result of God’s judgment on the wickedness of humanity. Noah, a righteous man, found favor in the eyes of God and was chosen to build the Ark and be saved from the floodwaters. This story serves as a reminder of the consequences of sin and the importance of obedience to God’s commands.

Moreover, the Ark itself serves as a foreshadowing of the salvation and redemption that would come through Jesus Christ. Just as Noah and his family were saved from the floodwaters through the Ark, believers today find salvation through faith in Jesus. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, it is written, ‘God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it, a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’

The Significance of Noah’s Ark in Biblical History

Noah’s Ark holds immense significance in biblical history as it serves as a powerful symbol of God’s judgment and redemption. This symbolism goes beyond its physical manifestation as a vessel that saved Noah, his family, and the animals from the devastating Great Flood. Through the story of the Ark, God reveals His ultimate power to judge and cleanse the world of wickedness, while also providing a way of salvation for the righteous.

The biblical account of Noah’s Ark can be found in the book of Genesis, chapters 6-9. In Genesis 6:5-7, it is stated, ‘The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

This passage highlights God’s judgment upon the wickedness of humanity. However, God chose to spare Noah and his family because Noah ‘found favor in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8). God instructed Noah to build an ark and gather a male and female of every kind of animal to ensure their survival during the Flood.

Noah’s obedience and faithfulness are demonstrated in Genesis 6:22, which states, ‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him.’ This verse emphasizes the importance of following God’s instructions and trusting in His plan.

The Flood itself serves as a profound example of God’s judgment upon the wicked. In Genesis 7:23, it is written, ‘Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.’

Despite the destruction brought upon the earth, the Ark also symbolizes God’s mercy and redemption. In Genesis 8:1, it is stated, ‘But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.’ This verse showcases God’s compassion and His faithfulness to His promise of preserving Noah and the animals.

The story of Noah’s Ark not only reveals God’s judgment and redemption but also highlights His care for all living creatures. Genesis 9:9-10 states, ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.’

Furthermore, the Ark serves as a foreshadowing of Christ, who is the ultimate source of redemption and salvation for humanity. Just as Noah and his family found safety and deliverance in the Ark, believers find salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus Himself refers to the days of Noah and the Flood, saying, ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.’

This connection made by Jesus further emphasizes the significance of Noah’s Ark as a symbol of judgment, redemption, and salvation.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.