Category Archives: Three Arks?




One Hebrew mother hid her newborn son, but after three months could no longer conceal him. So she laid her baby in a basket covered with tar, and placed it in the reeds by the river’s bank.

When Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe at the river, she saw the basket among the reeds and she looked inside.
Pharaoh’s daughter named the baby, Moses, which means, “Drawn Out of the Water.”
When she saw the baby and he cried, she felt compassion toward him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” She took the baby and raised him as her son, calling him Moses, which means, “Drawn Out of the Water.”

Jochebed was Moses’ mother, her husband Amram (who was actually her nephew) lived to 137. Jochebed bore the famous trio of  Moses, Aaron (Ex 6:20) and Miriam (Ex 15:20). Jochebed “got” or “took” the basket rather than “made” it, which makes it reasonable to assume the basket was of ordinary design. (i.e. similar shape to the most common baskets in Egypt at the time).

According to most Septuagint references, Jochebed used a wicker basket (qibin), but some variants use the word for a reed basket (kalathos), which seems more reasonable. Wicker usually refers to work made of interlaced slender branches, which means a coarse weave and requires generous radii. This is in opposition to the KJV which calls it an “ark of bulrushes”, matching the Hebrew gome’ {go’-meh} which always means reeds, bulrushes, papyrus.

“Ark” comes from the Latin word arca which means box or chest. In the trail from Greek to Latin to English we find Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant sharing the same term.

In Genesis, the Hebrew term is tebah,  {taw-bah} or tbh. which is used in only two places, Noe ark and the basket of baby Moses, in which the infant Moses was laid Ex. 2:3 is called in the Hebrew teebah, a word derived from the Egyptian teb, meaning “a chest.” It was daubed with slime and with pitch to make it water-resistant. The bulrushes were papyrus reeds.

It is not easy to establish the meaning of tebah because it appears in only two places – Noah’s Ark and the reed basket of baby Moses. Such disparate objects (a colossal ship and a tiny baby basket) have kept many scholars guessing. Obviously it can’t mean either “ship” or “basket” specifically. (tebah could mean a boat, something pitch coated, a certain material, a life preserver, or a certain shape. tebah cannot be restricted to a wooden object, a reed object, or have anything to do with size.)

Moses in the Ark of Bulrushes

Moses in the Ark of Bulrushes

On the basis of this association there might be a number of meanings anything from ‘boat’ to ‘life saver’. It does not refer to the Ark of the Covenant.

Hebrew has another word for ship, ‘oniyah   {on-ee-yaw’}. In 35 of 36 occurrences, KJV renders this as “ship” e.g. Jonah’s escape ship. If tebah means boat or ship then there is no obvious reason for this word to fade into obscurity. This word is not a good choice for a basket small enough to be carried, or fetched from the river by a maid.

Both the ship and the basket were pitch coated. Moses called his mother’s reed basket a tebah before she coated it (Ex 2:3), which is a minor issue. Linguistically, this option has the same problems as the first point above (boat or ship), there is no good reason to use an archaic term and no logic behind the disappearance of tebah in subsequent writings. These points alone are probably insufficient to disqualify the “pitch coating” interpretation, but the context certainly should, Moses basket was reeds gome’  {go’-meh} which always means reeds, bulrushes, papyrus. Hebrew also has a good word for basket, cal,  which Moses used whenever he talked about bread baskets and the like (14 times). So they can’t be the same material.

The purpose of each vessel was to preserve life, or to put it a different way, perhaps tbh implies the “preservation of life.”. This definition is perhaps the most robust since there are no subsequent parallels that involve life preserving objects. We might trace it right through to Moses, his basket account would read; Ex 2:3 “…she took a life saver of bullrushes and coated it with tar and pitch…” In a preliminary investigation it appears the most robust interpretation would not be a descriptive term (like boat) but a functional one (such as “life preserver” or “rescuer”). This would also offer a convenient typology with Jesus Christ (tebah = savior)

The Shape of an Old Basket.
Egyptian basket weaving was very advanced from the earliest records. They used coiled, plaited or woven techniques and a variety of materials and shapes.
Coiled basketry dominates the collections of surviving tomb items and ancient drawings.
“Oval and circular forms were particularly common, some having matching lids. Smooth, rounded lines and graceful reinforcement ribs can be seen in many surviving examples of ancient Egyptian coiled basketry.”

Bulrushes (gome’, “papyrus”):

This species of reed was used by the Egyptians for many different vessels, some of which were intended to float or even to be used as a skiff. Slime (chemar, “bitumen”), pitch (zepheth, “pitch”) was probably the sticky mud of the Nile with which to this day so many things in Egypt are plastered. In this case it was mixed with bitumen. Flags (cuph, “sedge”) were reeds of every kind and tall grass growing in the shallow water at the edge of the river.

Thus the ark of bulrushes was a vessel made of papyrus stalks and rendered fit to float by being covered with a mixture of bitumen and mud. Into this floating vessel the mother of Moses placed the boy when he was three months old, and put the vessel in the water among the sedge along the banks of the Nile at the place where the ladies from the palace were likely to come to bathe. The act was a pathetic imitation of obedience to the king’s command to throw boy babies into the river, a command which she had for three months braved and which now she so obeyed as probably to bring the cruelty of the king to the notice of the royal ladies in such way as to arouse a womanly sympathy, That method of abandoning children, either willingly or by necessity, is as natural along the Nile and the Euphrates, where the river is the great artery of the land and where the floating basket had been used from time immemorial, as is the custom in our modern cities of placing abandoned infants in the streets or on door-steps where they are likely to be found, and such events may have occurred then as often as now.

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“What is the Ark of the Covenant?”



Answer: God made a covenant (a conditional covenant) with the children of Israel through His servant Moses. He promised good to them and their children for generations if they obeyed Him and His laws; but He always warned of despair, punishment, and dispersion if they were to disobey. As a sign of His covenant He had the Israelites make a box according to His own design, in which to place the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. This box, or chest, was called an “ark” and was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The Ark was to be housed in the inner sanctum of the tabernacle in the desert and eventually in the Temple when it was built in Jerusalem. This chest is known as the Ark of the Covenant.

The real significance of the Ark of the Covenant was what took place involving the lid of the box, known as the “Mercy Seat.” The term ‘mercy seat’ comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to cover, placate, appease, cleanse, cancel or make atonement for.” It was here that the high priest, only once a year (Leviticus 16), entered the Holy of Holies where the Ark was kept and atoned for his sins and the sins of the Israelites. The priest sprinkled blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat to appease the wrath and anger of God for past sins committed. This was the only place in the world where this atonement could take place.

The Mercy Seat on the Ark was a symbolic foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice for all sin—the blood of Christ shed on the cross for the remission of sins. The Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee and one familiar with the Old Testament, knew this concept quite well when he wrote about Christ being our covering for sin in Romans 3:24-25: “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Just as there was only one place for atonement of sins in the Old Testament—the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant—so there is also only one place for atonement in the New Testament and current times—the cross of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we no longer look to the Ark but to the Lord Jesus Himself as the propitiation and atonement for our sins.

“What happened to the Ark of the Covenant?”

Answer:What happened to the Ark of the Covenant is a question that has fascinated theologians, Bible students, and archeologists for centuries. In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah of Judah ordered the caretakers of the Ark of the Covenant to return it to the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 35:1-6; cf.2 Kings 23:21-23). That is the last time the ark’s location is mentioned in the Scriptures. Forty years later, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon captured Jerusalem and raided the temple. Less than ten years after that, he returned, took what was left in the temple, and then burnt it and the city to the ground. So what happened to the ark? Was it taken by Nebuchadnezzar? Was it destroyed with the city? Or was it removed and hidden safely away, as evidently happened when Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt raided the temple during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam? (“Evidently” because, if Shishak had managed to take the Ark, why did Josiah ask the Levites to return it? If the Ark was in Egypt—à la the plotline ofRaiders of the Lost Ark—the Levites would not have possessed it and therefore could not have returned it.)

The non-canonical book of 2 Maccabees reports that just prior to the Babylonian invasion, Jeremiah, “following a divine revelation, ordered that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him and…he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God’s inheritance [i.e., Mt. Nebo; cf.Deuteronomy 31:1-4]. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he blocked up the entrance” (2:4-5). However, “Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: ‘The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Temple might be gloriously sanctified’” (2:6-8). It is not known if this secondhand (see 2:1) account is accurate; even if it is, we will not know until the Lord comes back, as the account itself claims.

Other theories concerning the whereabouts of the lost ark include Rabbis Shlomo Goren and Yehuda Getz’s claim that it is hidden beneath the temple mount, having been buried there before Nebuchadnezzar could steal it away. Unfortunately, the temple mount is now home to the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic holy site, and the local Muslim community refuses to allow it to be excavated. So we cannot know if Rabbis Goren and Getz are correct.

The Ark of the covenant brought into the Temple

The Ark of the covenant brought into the Temple

Explorer Vendyl Jones, among others, believes that an artifact found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the enigmatic “Copper Scroll” of Qumran Cave 3, is actually a treasure map of sorts detailing the location of a number of precious treasures taken from the temple before the Babylonians arrived, among them the lost Ark of the Covenant. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, as no one has yet been able to locate all of the necessary geographical landmarks listed on the scroll. Interestingly, some scholars speculate that the Copper Scroll may actually be the record referred to in2 Maccabees 2:1and4, which describes Jeremiah hiding the ark. While this is an interesting speculation, it remains unsubstantiated.

Former East African correspondent for “The Economist,” Graham Hancock, published a book in 1992 entitledThe Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, in which he argued that the ark had been stowed away in Saint Mary of Zion’s Church in Aksum, an ancient city of Ethiopia. Explorer Robert Cornuke of the B.A.S.E. Institute, also believes the Ark may now reside in Aksum. However, no one has yet found it there. Similarly, archaeologist Michael Sanders believes the ark is hidden away in an ancient Egyptian temple in the Israeli village of Djaharya, but he has yet to actually find it there.

A doubtful Irish tradition maintains that the Ark is buried under the Hill of Tara in Ireland. Some scholars believe that this is the source of the Irish “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” legend. Even less believable are the claims of Ron Wyatt and Tom Crotser, Wyatt claiming to actually have seen the lost Ark of the Covenant buried under Mt. Calvary and Crotser claiming to have seen it on Mt. Pisgah near Mt. Nebo. Both of these men are held in low esteem by the archaeological community, and neither has been able to substantiate the wild claims with any evidence.

In the end, the ark remains lost to all but God. Interesting theories like the ones presented above continue to be offered, but the ark has yet to be found. The writer of 2 Maccabees may very well be right; we may not find out what happened to the lost Ark of the Covenant until the Lord Himself returns.

“What is the mercy seat?”

Answer:The writer to the Hebrews talks about the arrangement of the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The tabernacle was the portable sanctuary used by the Israelites from the time of their wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt to the building of the temple in Jerusalem (seeExodus 25–27). Within the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant which included the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:3-5 NKJV).

The ark of the covenant, the chest containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, was the most sacred object of the tabernacle and later in the temple in Jerusalem, where it was placed in an inner area called the Holy of Holies. Also within the ark were the golden pot of manna, such as was provided by God in the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:4) and Aaron’s almond rod (Numbers 17:1-13). On top of the ark was a lid called the mercy seat on which rested the cloud or visible symbol of the divine presence. Here God was supposed to be seated, and from this place He was supposed to dispense mercy to man when the blood of the atonement was sprinkled there.

In a manner of speaking, the mercy seat concealed the people of God from the ever-condemning judgment of the Law. Each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood of animals sacrificed for the atonement of the sins of God’s people. This blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. The point conveyed by this imagery is that it is only through the offering of blood that the condemnation of the Law could be taken away and violations of God’s laws covered.

The Greek word for “mercy seat” inHebrews 9:5 is hilasterion, which means “that which makes expiation” or “propitiation.” It carries the idea of the removal of sin. InEzekiel 43:14, the brazen altar of sacrifice is also called hilasterion(the propitiatory or mercy seat) because of its association with the shedding of blood for sin.

What is the significance of this? In the New Testament, Christ Himself is designated as our “propitiation.” Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:24-25 NKJV). What Paul is teaching here is that Jesus is the covering for sin, as shown by these Old Testament prophetic images. By means of His death, and our response to Christ through our faith in Him, all our sins are covered. Also, whenever believers sin, we may turn to Christ who continues to be the propitiation or covering for our sins (1 John 2:1,4:10). This ties together the Old and New Testament concepts regarding the covering of sin as exemplified by the mercy-seat of God.

“What is the Shekinah glory?”

Answer: The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means “he caused to dwell,” signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of JEHOVAH God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There it appeared as a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:20-22).

God spoke to Moses out of the pillar of cloud in Exodus 33, assuring him that His Presence would be with the Israelites (v. 9). Verse 11 says God spoke to Moses “face to face” out of the cloud, but when Moses asked to see God’s glory, God told Him, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (v. 20). So, apparently, the visible manifestation of God’s glory was somewhat muted. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God hid Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered him with His hand, and passed by. Then He removed His hand, and Moses saw only His back. This would seem to indicate that God’s glory is too awesome and powerful to be seen completely by man.

The visible manifestation of God’s presence was seen not only by the Israelites but also by the Egyptians: “During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt’” (Exodus 14:24-25). Just the presence of God’s Shekinah glory was enough to convince His enemies that He was not someone to be resisted.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the dwelling place of God’s glory. Colossians 2:9 tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” causing Jesus to exclaim to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Christ, we see the visible manifestation of God Himself in the second person of the Trinity. Although His glory was also veiled, Jesus is nonetheless the presence of God on earth. Just as the divine Presence dwelled in a relatively plain tent called the “tabernacle” before the Temple in Jerusalem was built, so did the Presence dwell in the relatively plain man who was Jesus. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). But when we get to heaven, we will see both the Son and the Father in all their glory, and the Shekinah will no longer be veiled (1 John 3:2).

is designated by a different Hebrew word, “’arown,” which is the common name for a chest or coffer used for any purpose (Gen. 50:26; 2 Kings 12:9-10). It is distinguished from all others by such titles as the “ark of God” (1 Sam. 3:3), “ark of the covenant” (Josh. 3:6; Hebrews 9:4), “ark of the testimony” (Ex. 25:22).

It was made of acacia or shittim wood, a cubit and a half wide and high and two cubits long, and completely covered with the purest gold.

Its upper surface or lid, the mercy-seat, was surrounded with a rim of gold; and on each of the two sides were two gold rings, in which were placed two gold-covered poles by which the ark could be carried (Num. 7:9; 10:21; 4:5, 19-20; 1 Kings 8:3,6).

At each end, there were two cherubim over the ark, with their faces turned toward each other (Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89). Their outspread wings over the top of the ark formed the throne of God, while the ark itself was his footstool (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9).

The ark was deposited in the “holy of holies,” and was placed so that one end of the carrying poles touched the veil which separated the two sections of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8).

Temple Resemblance of Man

Temple Resemblance of Man

CONTENTS—Stored in the ark were the ten commandments on two tablets of stone which were the “testimony” or evidence of God’s covenant with the people (Deut. 31:26), the “pot of manna” (Ex. 16:33), and “Aaron’s rod that budded” (Num. 17:10) (Hebrews 9:4). (See TABERNACLE)

When it was carried, the ark was always wrapped in a veil, the badgers’ skins, and blue cloth, and carefully concealed even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.

The ark and the sanctuary were “the beauty of Israel” (Lam. 2:1). During the journeys of the Israelites the ark was carried by the priests in front of the crowds (Num. 4:5-6; 10:33-36; Ps. 68:1; 132:8). It was carried by the priests into the bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the whole host to pass over (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7, 10-11, 17-18). It was carried in procession around Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 6, 8, 11-12).

After Israel settled in Canaan, the ark remained in the tabernacle at Gilgal for a while. It was then moved to Shiloh till the time of Eli, between 300 and 400 years (Jer. 7:12), when it was carried into the field of battle in an attempt to guarantee victory. However, it was taken by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:3-11), who later returned it after seven months when they realized it was bringing a curse on them (1 Sam. 5:7-8).

The ark then remained at Kirjath-jearim (7:1-2) till the time of David (twenty years), who wished to move it to Jerusalem; but because they did not move it in the proper way, Uzzah was killed for putting “forth his hand to the ark of God.” Therefore, the ark was left in the house of Obed-edom in Gath-rimmon for three months (2 Sam. 6:1-11), after which David moved it in a grand procession to Jerusalem, where it was kept till a place was prepared for it (12-19).

Solomon later deposited the ark in the great temple he built (1 Kings 8:6-9). When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and plundered the temple, the ark disappeared. Some believe it was taken away by Nebuchadnezzar and was destroyed at some point. No definite later trace of it has ever been proved.

One reason that the second temple of Jerusalem was inferior to the first is that it did not contain the ark.


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A giant rectangular barge constructed of “gopher wood” and covered with pitch. It was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high (Gen. 6:14-16). It had three stories, with a door in the side and a window in the roof (Clerestory window ). It was built over a period of 100 years (Gen. 5:32 7:6). It was intended to preserve the righteous people and air-breathing land animals from the deluge which God was about to bring over the Earth. When the door closed, only eight persons had boarded (Noah and wife, plus three sons and their wives) (Gen. 7:13; 2 Pet. 2:5). Everyone else rejected God’s protection.

God brought the animals to Noah; the family did not have to go get them. The animals included seven pairs of each type of “clean” animal and of the “unclean” one pair each. Birds included seven pairs of each type (Gen. 7:2-3).

Nations and tribes throughout the Earth have ancient legends about the great flood, Noah and the Ark.

“Ark” comes from the Latin word arca which means box or chest. In the trail from Greek to Latin to English we find Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant sharing the same term.

I. Introduction

A. Biblical Passages: Gen. 6-8; Matt. 24:37,38; Lk. 17:26,27; I Pet. 3:20;II Pet. 2:5.

B. The story of Noah and his family being spared from a world- wide deluge (a judgment by God) is one of the most important in the Old Testament. Much is learned about the nature of God from this story. For example: (1) It shows He is a holy God and cannot tolerate sin. (2) It shows He is a just God and that sin will not go unpunished. (3) It shows He is a God of mercy in that He spares some. (4) It shows God’s power in that the Flood unleashed great power.

II. The Design of the Ark

A. The Designer was God Himself. We do not need to assume Noah knew anything about ship-building. The instructions for design are given in Gen. 6:14ff.

B. Construction Materials

The Bible says the Ark was to be built of “gopher wood”. “Gopher” is the actual Hebrew word. In early English translations the meaning of the word was unknown so it was left untranslated. The NIV translates it “cypress wood”, however, this is only a guess. It was undoubtedly translated this way due to the fact that cypress wood is highly resistant to rot. What this material was is still a mystery. It could have been a pre-flood wood with which we are not familiar.

It is almost certain that Noah did not construct a standard wooden ship of the kind we are familiar. According to nautical engineers the longest wooden vessel ever built was 360 feet in length and was not seaworthy. Because of the wave action of the sea only wooden ships shorter than this will be seaworthy. Therefore, we must conclude that Noah used some other method of construction to overcome this problem.

C. The Design.

1. The Biblical word for Ark is “tebah”. It is used 28 times in the OT and is only used of Noah’s Ark and for the container in which Moses was hidden among the bulrushes. Because of a similar Egyptian word meaning “box”, and the ultimate purpose of the Ark, we believe the Ark was not like a streamlined vessel designed to easily glide through the water. More likely it was shaped like a rectangular barge which floated rather low in the water. From the story in the Bible, it also would appear that Noah had no control over the vessel. He, and it contents were at the total mercy of God.

2. The Ark had three stories with only one door. The phrase in Gen. 6:16, “Make a roof for it and finish the Ark to within 18 inches of the top.” is problematic in that the words used are obscure. Most commentators believe it means leave an 18 inch space at the top that is open all around the vessel. This then would be for ventilation, and when water entered it would drain out somewhere below, similar to the vents in cars.

3. The Ark was to be coated inside and out with pitch.

Again the Hebrew word for “pitch” is obscure. It was more likely some resinous material used not only to waterproof the vessel but also to prevent decay. If Noah was 480 years old when God told him to build an Ark and 600 when the Flood came, it is reasonable to assume that the construction of the Ark took place during this 120 year period (See Gen. 6:3 along with I Pet. 3:20). The need for this preservative was essential. It is also possible that things did not decay as rapidly in the pre-flood atmosphere.

4. The phrase in the NIV (6:14) “make rooms” is also problematic in that the word is obscure. The Hebrew is “qnm”. Since Hebrew did not have any vowels when it was written, scholars speculate that the word could be either “qinnim” or “qanim”. The former would mean either “rooms” or “nest”, and the later, “reeds”. Most English translations translate as in the former. However, some of the better and more recent commentaries, believe it should be translated “reeds” since the context is building materials. If in reality it is “reeds”, then somehow reeds were part of the construction material. Large boats are still made from reeds and are very seaworthy. The Egyptians still use reeds for caulking their wooden ships.

III. The Size of the Ark

(When considering its size it obviously was not the backyard effort of a primitive river-dweller!)

A. It is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. A cubit in the OT was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.

B. It’s Ratio

The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize.

C. Its Volume.

With the shorter cubit the Ark would have an internal volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet, or the equivalent of 569 standard railroad boxcars. If the average sized animal was the size of a sheep it means the Ark could hold over 125,000 sheep. (Assuming the shape of the Ark to be rectangular there would have been over 100,000 sq. ft of floor space!)

A bunch of animals

A bunch of animals

IV. It’s Construction

Though the Bible does not say, it seems reasonable that Noah employed a large group of workman to build the Ark. If Noah started building the Ark soon after God spoke to him, then the process of building the Ark may have taken close to 120 years.

V. It’s Final Resting Place

The Bible says in Gen. 8:4 that the Ark came to rest on the mountains (plural) of Ararat. At the time Moses wrote Genesis Ararat was a mountainous region located in what is today Eastern Turkey. The Bible only gives a general location for the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Contrary to what many Christians believe, the Bible does not say the Ark landed on the Mt. Ararat of today. There is, however, compelling evidence from ancient history that the Ark landed on a mountain about 200 miles south of Mt. Ararat. Josephus seems to be referring to this mountain, and he claims it still existed in his day. An Arabic historian says the last remains of the Ark were hauled away about 1000 A.D.

VI. The Cargo

1. The Human Passengers. II Pet. 2:5 says 8 souls were saved. We assume this means Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives.

2. The Animal Passengers. In Gen. 6:19ff. Noah is instructed to bring mated pairs of every kind of bird, every kind of animal, and every kind of creature that moves along the ground. In Gen. 7:2ff. He is more specifically instructed to bring seven mated pairs (14) of clean animals and seven pairs of all birds.

a. The Number of animals. Only air-breathing animals needed to be included on the Ark. Authorities on taxonomy estimate that there are less than 18,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians living in the world today. We might double this to allow for extinct species. This would gives us 36,000 species times 2, or 72,000 animals. Adding for the clean animals, we might say there were as many as 75,000 animals. Earlier we said there was room enough in the Ark for 125,000 sheep, but most animals are smaller than a common house cat. There appears to be plenty of space for the preservation of the animal life. However, some creationists believe there may have been far fewer animals if Noah only took on board pairs of “kinds” as the word is used in Genesis 1. God created these “kinds” with potential for rich genetic diversity. For instance, at the time of Christ there existed only two types of dogs. All the diversity we see in the modern breeds of dogs came from these two!

Clerestory window

Clerestory window

b. The Care of the animals. Noah was instructed to include food for the animals (Gen. 6:21). How Noah and his small family could have cared for this large menagerie is unknown, not to mention the sanitation problem! What we must remember is that this event, i.e., the Flood, had supernatural elements. For instance, the animals came to the Ark against their natural instincts (Gen. 6:20). It is therefore reasonable to assume, as some creationists do, that the animals’ metabolism may have been slowed down during their confinement, even to the point where some of the animals may have gone into a state of hibernation.

VII. The Typology or Spiritual meaning of the Ark

A. The Ark of Noah is a rich picture of the salvation provided by Christ who today is our Ark of safety.

B. Some of the points of comparison are:

1. God took the initiative in sparing Noah and his family. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8.

2. There was a divine and human side to the Ark as Christ is both human and divine.

3. There was only one door to enter into the Ark as there is only one way to God and that is through Christ Jesus. “I am the gate for the sheep…” Jn. 10:7. See also Acts 4:12.

4. There was great security for the passengers of the Ark. Likewise, if we are in Christ we are secure. See Rom.8:31ff.

Ships, Then and Now

Ships, Then and Now


I. Introduction: The first 12 chapters of Genesis are attacked more than any other passage in the Bible. It is very important for believers to be assured that this is no less the Word of God and is important for our instruction. We must not be tempted to prostitute ourselves to a higher authority than Scripture.

II. The Extent of the Flood

If the science of geology did not exist, and we only had Genesis chapters 6-8., what would we conclude from a normal reading of Scripture about the extent of the Flood? There is little doubt that a universal Flood is meant. Regardless, some evangelical scholars still postulate that the Flood was a local event.

A . The Local Flood Theory

1. The local Flood theory received a boost when the famous archaeologist, Sir Leonard Wooley thought he found proof of the Biblical Flood when he found an eight foot thick layer of water-deposited strata under the city of Ur covering a still more ancient civilization. Despite proof to the contrary, many still believe this discovery. (This flood layer, it was later discovered, did not even cover the entire city!)

2. Objections:

a. There would be no need for an Ark (definitely not an Ark the size of the one described in Genesis 7).

b. The Biblical language is universal.

c. This view seeks accommodation with the conclusions of modern geology

B. The Flood was Universal

1. The main objections are its supernaturalism and the fact that it contradicts the conclusions of modern uniformitarian geology.

2. Support:

(a) The language of the Bible is universal. “all the high mountains under the entire heavens”, “Every living thing”, “all mankind”, “Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.”

(b) The tradition is universal. A catastrophic flood seems to be found in the collective memory of all ancient peoples. Some 270 of these stories have been cataloged. What is interesting is the fact that the closer you get to Asia Minor, the closer the details are to the Biblical account!

(c) The size of the Ark. It is an ocean-going type of vessel befitting a global catastrophe.

(d) It explains the geosphere in terms of Biblical revelation. The huge extinction of animal and plant life told by the fossils speak of catastrophe.

(e) The Duration of the flood. They remained in the Ark for a whole year!

(f) It ignores the testimony of the apostle Peter. II Pet. 3:3-7. Peter is speaking in global terms.

(g) It ignores the stated purpose of the Flood-to destroy all of the human race.

(h) The Covenant God made with Noah after the Flood would be meaningless if the Flood had just been a local event.

III. The Cause of the Flood (Genesis 6:1-4)

The Bible speaks of the Flood as being a judgment from God due to wickedness on the earth. IF THE FLOOD WAS INDEED GLOBAL THEN THE SIN MUST HAVE BEEN OF THE MOST HEINOUS NATURE!

A. The Spiritual or Supernatural Reasons for the Flood

Genesis 6: 1-4 is one of the most puzzling passages in the entire Bible. The major questions of interpretation are: Who are the “daughters of men”, the “sons of god”, the “nephilim”, and the “heroes of old”?

Four views:

1. Mixed marriage view

a. Explanation: The “sons of god” were the righteous line of Seth; the “daughters of men”, the unrighteous line of Cain. The sin which gave rise to the judgment was the sin of intermarriage between the godly and ungodly.

b. Objections:

(1) This view hardly explains the severity of the Flood?

(2) “Sons of god” in all other occurrences means “angels. Job1:6, 2:1, 38:7; Ps. 29:1, 89:6; Dan. 3:25.

(3) “men” means the same things in verse 2 as it does in verse 1.

(4) The Bible does not say that angels are sexless. Angels in heaven do not marry: the same as people. Matt. 22:30, Mk. 12:25, Lk. 20.35-36. Angels are spoken of as being male (Michael and Gabriel) and as female (Zech. 5:9)!

(5) It does not explain the offspring produced.

(6) It runs roughshod over the passages in I Pet. 3:19,20; IIPet. 2:4,5; Jude 6.

(7) None of the sons of god were on the Ark.

(8) The contrast is between the “sons of god” and the “daughters of men” not between the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain.

(9) If the “sons of god” were godly, why did they do what is ungodly?

2. Immorality-polygamy view

(a) Explanation: A powerful, elite took for themselves multiple wives. There are parallels of this in ancient near-eastern literature.

(b) Objections:

(1) It gives too much emphasis to creation myths and not enough to Scripture.

(2) Again, does this explain the severity of the judgment?

3. Demon-possession View

(a) Explanation: This unholy union resulted in demon-possessed men.

(b) Objection:Use of the term “sons of god in other OT passages does not refer to demon- possessed men.

4. The Corrupt Race (Seed) View

(a) Explanation: Angels (spirit beings) left their proper spheres (the spirit world), took on bodies of men and cohabited with the daughters of men. This unholy union threatened to destroy the Seed through which the Deliverer would come. Apparently the “nephilim were some sort of hybrid. As a result, the earth was filled with violence.

(1) it explains the severity of the flood.

(2) It agrees nicely with the theme of Genesis which demonstrates the sovereignty of God in preserving purifying “the seed” as Satan tries to corrupt and destroy it. The marriage of fallen angels to daughters of men somehow corrupted the seed of man, perhaps causing some kind of genetic mutation. Noah and his family were chosen perhaps because their blood-line remained untouched.

(3) It does justice to the text.

(4) It explains a difficult passage in I Pet.

3. and Col 2:15, I Tim. 3:16, and explains why women should cover their head! ICor. 11:10.

(5) It is an ancient universal tradition that the gods once visited this earth in the form of men, i.e. the titans of mythology.

“More and more we are finding that mythology in general though greatly contorted very often has some historic base. And the interesting thing is that one myth which occurs over and over again in many parts of the world is that somewhere a long time ago supernatural beings had sexual intercourse with natural women and produced a special breed of people.” Francis A. Schaeffer

(6) It has strong support from extra-biblical literature– the pseudopigraphic book of Enoch and the book of Jubilees. The New Testament writers were familiar with these books. Jude quotes from Enoch and Peter alludes to it.

(7) It was the universal interpretation of the early church fathers until the 5th century.

(b) Objections:

The major objection to this view is angelic spirit-beings co-habiting with humans. It is a hard interpretation, and is hard to explain philosophically, i.e. the mind-body problem.

B. Natural Causes of the Flood

Some explanations offered:

1. A rapid shifting of the Poles.

2. The collapse of the vapor canopy surrounding the earth.

3. Volcanism and earthquakes.

4. The shifting of the earth’s crust.

5. An extra-terrestrial body passing close by the earth.

Noah, by faith, obeyed God and did all God instructed him to do, even though he had not seen rain or flood (Hebrews 11:7). Faith is never anchored on feelings, human opinion or logic, but is dependent on God’s Word.

The Ark points to Jesus and is a picture of Salvation. When Noah entered the Ark, God shut the door (Genesis 7:16). Inside the Ark, Noah and his family were under God’s protection, as we are when we believe in Jesus Christ. Those who did not heed God’s warning were outside the Ark and suffered destruction. If you have trusted in Christ but are living in sin, do not wait until disaster strikes. Heed God’s warning now.

Jesus confirmed that the flood took place. The problem is our heart. If we do not want to believe in the flood, no amount of evidence will convince us that it really happened.

I love you in Christ’s name Saints. May His unending blessing rest upon you!

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