Could all the animals fit into Noah’s ark?

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By BibleAsk Team


Noah’s Ark

The story of Noah’s Ark, as recorded in the Bible, presents a remarkable account of divine intervention, preservation, and salvation during a cataclysmic flood. Central to this narrative is the construction of an ark to save Noah, his family, and a remnant of all land-dwelling animals from the floodwaters. However, questions arise regarding the feasibility of accommodating all animal species within the dimensions of the ark. In this exploration, we will examine various perspectives and considerations surrounding this topic, drawing insights from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

  1. The Dimensions of Noah’s Ark: Genesis 6:15 (NKJV): “And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.” The Bible provides specific dimensions for Noah’s Ark, indicating that it was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.
  2. Interpretations of the Word “All” in Scripture: Genesis 6:19-20 (NKJV): “And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” The term “all” in the biblical context has sparked debates regarding its scope and interpretation. Some interpret “all” to mean representatives of each kind or category of animals, rather than every single species. This interpretation suggests that Noah was tasked with preserving a representative sample of animals, rather than every individual species.
  3. Considerations of Animal Diversity and Population: Genesis 7:2-3 (NKJV): “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.” The account in Genesis mentions specific instructions regarding the types and numbers of animals to be taken into the ark. While the biblical text does not provide an exhaustive list of every species, it acknowledges the diversity of animals and the need to preserve various kinds for the continuation of life after the flood.
  4. The Capacity and Layout of the Ark: Genesis 6:14-16 (NKJV): “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch… You shall make the ark with lower, second, and third decks.” The construction of the ark, with multiple decks and compartments, suggests careful planning and organization to maximize space and accommodate the animals, food, and provisions needed for the duration of the flood. While the dimensions of the ark were significant, its layout and design would have contributed to its functionality and capacity.
  5. The Possibility of Supernatural Intervention: Genesis 7:16 (NKJV): “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.” Some theologians and believers propose that the account of Noah’s Ark involves divine intervention and miraculous provisions, including the gathering and boarding of animals. The belief in God’s sovereignty and miraculous power suggests that God orchestrated the events surrounding the ark’s preparation and operation, ensuring the fulfillment of His purpose.
  6. The Symbolic and Theological Significance: While the narrative of Noah’s Ark carries historical significance, it also holds symbolic and theological implications. The ark serves as a symbol of God’s grace, mercy, and salvation, providing a means of deliverance from judgment and destruction. The preservation of Noah, his family, and the animals within the ark foreshadows the ultimate redemption and restoration offered through Jesus Christ.

Could All the Animals Fit in the Ark?

In order to answer this question, let’s review some facts:

  1. The Bible does not teach that Noah took aboard the ark two of every “species” of animal on Earth. Noah took aboard the ark two of each “kind” of animal which possessed enough genetic variety so that each kind, thousands of years later, could yield offspring that is significantly different. This would narrow the count to around 35,000 individual vertebrate animals, plus the small, non-marine arthropods and worms.
  2. Supposing that the cubit in Noah’s day was 17.5 inches (a most conservative “cubit” considering the Egyptian cubit, the Mesopotamian cubit, and the “long” cubit of Ezekiel 40:5 which all exceeded this measurement by two inches), then Noah’s ark would have been at the very least 437.5 feet long, 72.92 feet wide, and 43.75 feet high.
  3. The available ground space of this three-decked barge was over 95,000 square feet, the equivalent of slightly more than 20 standard basketball courts, and its total volume was 1,396,000 cubic feet, which means the Ark had a carrying capacity equal to that of 522 standard stock cars as used by today’s railroads.
  4. So, if 240 animals of the size of sheep could be accommodated in a standard two-decked stock car, then 35,000 animals could easily occupy less than 150 such cars, which is less than 30% of the ark’s full capacity.
  5. Therefore, it is clear that the size of Noah’s Ark was large enough to accommodate and save the thousands of kinds of air-breathing creatures. Also, God possibly allowed Noah to take young animals into the ark, instead of those that were fully grown, in order to save space and reduce the amount of necessary food.

Conclusion

The question of whether all animals could fit into Noah’s Ark presents a complex issue with various perspectives and considerations. While skeptics may raise doubts about the logistical feasibility of accommodating every species, believers find assurance in the biblical account of God’s providence, sovereignty, and miraculous intervention. The dimensions of the ark, the interpretation of the term “all,” the diversity of animal kinds, the capacity and layout of the ark, the possibility of supernatural intervention, and the symbolic and theological significance of the narrative all contribute to the rich interpretations surrounding this biblical story. Ultimately, Noah’s Ark serve as a testament to God’s faithfulness, grace, and salvation offered to humanity.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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