Close your eyes and picture Noah’s ark. What do you see? If you’re like most people, probably a small boat, overloaded with smiling animals and Noah waving happily (and don’t forget the chimney with a pair of giraffes sticking out the top!). This is how Noah’s ark is frequently depicted for children, but it couldn’t be further from the Bible’s description of the ship.
Genesis describes the ark as a real vessel that was actually built by a real, historical person named Noah. So it shouldn’t surprise us that the dimensions given—510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 50 feet high—are realistic dimensions for a massive cargo ship. A ship this size would have the same storage capacity of about 450 standard semi-trailers, capable of hauling at least 120,000 sheep. We’re talking about a huge ship!
Of course, Noah didn’t need to take 120,000 sheep onto the ark! He was commanded to take two of every kind of land-dwelling, air-breathing animal, seven pairs of some (such as the kind sheep belong to—so that’s only 14 representatives of the sheep kind).
What does “kind” mean? You might think it’s the same as “species” (e.g., tigers, lions, cougars, and bobcats), but it’s not. “Kind” is at about the level of “family” in our modern classification system (e.g., the family Felidae, which includes all the aforementioned cats, and then some). That means if creatures belong to the same family, they probably belong to the same kind.
While there are many land-dwelling, air-breathing animal species, there are only about 1,398 such kinds (including extinct ones). This means Noah only needed to bring around 6,744 animals onto the ark. While some are quite large, many of these are very small, with the average creature being about the size of a buffalo. So there was plenty of room on the ark for a few thousand animals, Noah and his family, and the supplies they would need to survive the year-long voyage.
The life-size Noah’s ark constructed at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, KY is a testimony to the truth of God’s Word. There really was a man named Noah, an ark, and a global flood. With three decks of exhibits, this massive reconstruction of the ark answers the skeptical questions surrounding the historicity of the flood. And you can discover these answers—and experience the wonder of the ark—for yourself by visiting or by taking a journey through the Ark Encounter with a new program on Answers TV.
Host Peter Schriemer takes you on a tour through the world’s largest timber frame structure in Journey Through the Ark Encounter, now streaming on Answers TV. You’ll discover the massive size of the ark and practical answers to the question of how Noah could fit the animals onto the ark.
The dimensions in Genesis are provided in cubits, the distance between the elbow and the tip of the longest finger. This varied but large-scale construction projects generally used a long (or royal) cubit. Using a cubit of 20.4 inches, the ark would have been the dimensions given above.