An Ark with Room to Spare
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“I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth” (Genesis 9:9-10 ASV).
Noah was commanded to build the Ark to save all manner of life. It is recorded also to assure us that mankind will survive the self-destruction of “the present evil world.” Noah’s ark was 300 x 50 x 30 cubits in size, with three floors (Genesis 6:15-16). The three floors provide roughly 130,000 square feet of area (nearly 200,000 square feet by Smyth’s cubit), before accounting for stacking cages and hanging perches.(1)
Someone may protest that there is not nearly enough space for over a million species already documented (with perhaps up to five million estimated yet to be discovered). However, about 80% are insects (and as Dr. Harry Rimmer once noted, you can pack a lot of fleas on the backs of two elephants!), with up to four million insect species estimated yet undiscovered. Of the remaining species, a majority live in the water and did not need the ark.
Space aboard the ark was needed principally for land mammals: 5,501 species of mammals have already been described, with perhaps up to another hundred yet to be discovered (of which 100-125 live in the water). Years ago Dr. Rimmer gave a breakdown of 290 species larger than a sheep, 757 from the size of a sheep to the size of a rat, and 1,359 smaller than a rat; the average was the size of a cat. (Undiscovered species are almost certainly mostly in the smaller sizes.) If one allows 5,500 species of land mammals, there would be about 24 square feet per species (35 square feet by Smyth’s cubit), which is more than ample sleeping quarters for two pairs the size of a cat. The ceiling for each floor would have been 15-20 feet high, which would allow ample room for birds to fly around for exercise. Stacking of cages for the smaller animals and birds would allow considerable room for a year’s worth of food. Hibernating bears would eat little of it (Genesis 6:21).
Wild animals in distress often come to man as their last resort. “Two of every sort shall come unto thee to keep them alive” (Genesis 6:20). Frightened animals do not eat; so all could safely come to the ark. (It is said that caves on Malta contain fossils of both predators and their prey together, perhaps having vainly tried to survive the Flood.)
Dr. Shelley in Australia said that at some time America’s fauna were replaced by an inferior fauna (likely at the time of the Flood). Of the clean animals (healthy for eating and clean for offerings) and of the birds, seven pairs were taken on board the ark; whereas only two pairs of the unclean animals were taken on board. This selection better preserved the gene pool for the favored life.
To give 5,500 species an average of 1 minute each (some more, such as the shrew; (2) some very little) would take eight people working 11½ hours per day. Since there had been no command to keep Sabbath, they could work an entire week. While that is certainly feasible, it is inferred that there may have been considerable planning in building the ark to make water and food distribution, as well as cleanup, especially efficient.
(1) Scottish astronomer, Piazzi Smyth, considers the most ancient cubit to have been 25.025 British inches. (R.B.Y. Scott, The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, Volume 3; Anchor Books (ASOR), 1970.)
(2) The shrew spends almost all of its time eating just to stay alive. E.C. Pollard, “The Physics of Viruses” (1953), notes that the activity of life forms is proportional to the surface area divided by volume (the ability to expel heat versus the ability to generate heat); therefore the activity is inversely proportional to its size. So how could a shrew have evolved from a still-smaller mammal? which would have needed to be eating for more than 100% of its waking hours?
Why the Flood?
“And Jehovah said, My Spirit shall not strive in man for ever, in their going astray they are flesh: his days shall be yet a hundred twenty years (3) … And it repenteth Jehovah that he had made man on the earth” (Genesis 6:3,6 RVIC). The progeny of fallen angels inherited their life rights from their fathers, and not from Adam; therefore it was necessary to destroy them. Hence, God sent the Flood.
What Caused the Flood?
We read, “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11-12). “The windows of heaven were opened” means the clouds were broken up, as it began to rain. “The great deep” is contrasted with “heaven;” it means the ocean(s). A great tsunami is implied, as 2 Peter 3:5-6 may attest. (4) (Whether generated by a great meteor impact in the sea, or by earthquake, or by a submarine volcano, remains to be determined.)
The ark was probably floating in an ideal location: The mountains of Ararat to the south and the Caucasus mountains to the north would have largely protected it from tidal waves from both south and north. In between, the Kura River valley is nowhere more than about 250 miles from the Caspian Sea to the east or the Black Sea to the west; so the time for the mountains to dry up, and allow the eight people to exit the ark, would be minimized.
After the mountain tops could be seen, Noah sent forth a long-range flier — a raven. Afterwards he sent forth a short-range flier — a dove, which on the second outing brought back “a fresh olive-leaf plucked off.” Several weeks later they left the ark and saw the rainbow of God’s covenant.
A Lesson for Us
Just as God and Noah had compassion on the animals, so Christ and his church will bring man and animal through Armageddon and into Christ’s Kingdom.
(3) “Man” is evidently generic of “men,” that is, of all humanity. So “spirit” should likewise be understood as generic of “spirits,” that is, especially of the fallen angels. Also, while one might here misunderstand “repent” to mean God had sinned, it simply means that He changed His way of dealing with man. (4) Dr. Shelley notes that Lake Titicaca (12,500 feet altitude, between Bolivia and Peru) is salt water. The lake is drying up rapidly and would have been overflowing just five thousand years ago. Also, the multitudes of mammoths found frozen in Siberia (and Alaska) died from salt water in their lungs. Thus, there are strong implications of a tsunami-driven global Flood.