Genesis 6:14: The Size of the Ark
There are a number of reasons that it is important to consider the size of the ark. First, critics have often doubted that the ark was sufficient to carry a representation of all the species of animals on the earth at the time of the Flood. Let’s begin by answering this question.
A standard cubit was eighteen inches, which would make the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Therefore the ark would have been a football field and a half in length and about seven feet wider than the width of a football field (a football field is 68 feet, 4 inches wide). We must remember that the ark was built to “float,” not to sail. A box-like “barge” with these dimensions would have a very low center of gravity and could tip to near ninety degrees without capsizing. With three decks, the ark would have a total deck area of 101,250 square feet and a total volume of 1,500,000 cubic feet. It was not until 1882 that a vessel was built exceeding the length of the ark.
Could all the animals fit on the ark? In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris compares the size of the ark to train stock cars. With this as a standard, the capacity of the ark would be equal to 522 train stock cars that would hold approximately 125,000
animals the size of sheep. According to the fossil record, there were about 35,000 species of animals on the earth at the time of the Flood. Today, we have less that 18,000 species of land animals on the earth. If we consider two of every kind of unclean animal and seven (or seven pairs) of clean animals that entered the ark, Noah would have had to take a maximum of 75,000 animals onto the ark. Considering that Noah would not have taken full grown elephants and other large animals (immature or adolescents of larger animals would be sufficient), the ark would have been filled to about 60% of its capacity or the equivalent of 300 train stock cars. The entire upper deck could have been empty to accommodate Noah and his family.
Another reason the size of the ark is significant is because of those who claim that the Flood was only a local event. If so, why did God command the building of such a big boat and why bring all the animals inside? It would have been easy enough to simply migrate to a safe area. With fossils in the tops of all the highest mountains of the world, the Flood still stands as evidence of God’s judgment and of the promise of a future judgment in which not only the earth but the entire universe will be destroyed and all men will stand before God’s judgment seat (2 Peter 3:3-12).