How long did it take to build Noah's Ark?

Noah's Ark during the Flood

How long did it take Noah to build his Ark? Many Christians quote Genesis 6:3 to say it took 120 years: “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.”

This prophecy in Genesis 6:3 seems to have been given 120 years before the colossal, year-long, worldwide Flood that God sent on the earth as punishment for human wickedness.

But at the time this prophecy was given, Noah's sons — Shem Ham, and Japheth — would not yet have been born, and the specific commands that God gave to Noah about building the Ark would not yet have been given.

So even though many, perhaps most, Christians think it took Noah 120 years to build the Ark, that is not what the verse says.

Upright as big as Great Pyramid

As we mention in our article How big was Noah's Ark?, the Ark was enormous. It had 3 levels, and was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. In imperial measurements, that's at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. In metric measurements, that is at least 135 metres long, 22.5 metres wide, and 13.5 metres high.

It could have been larger, because there were larger measurements for a cubit than the one we have used here (18 inches or 45 centimetres).

If you stood the Ark upright on its end, it would have been about the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Its total deck area was at least equivalent to the area of about 20 standard college basketball courts, or 36 lawn tennis courts.

2 metres a day?

Let's take one side of the Ark and see how much gopher wood was needed. A single side was 300 cubits long and 30 cubits high. That's 9000 square cubits, or around 1881 square metres, or 20,250 square feet.

Assuming Noah and his three sons each prepared only two square metres of the Ark each day, one side of the Ark would be finished in 235 days. That's less than 8 months.

At the same rate, the other side would be finished in 16 months. Allow time for supports, scaffolds, the base, the roof, window ledges, pens and cages inside to keep the animals, and then time to coat it with pitch.

Allow for days off, cutting time, sick leave, a week-long vacation every now and then, and various other activities, and they should still have well and truly finished within 7 years. If they worked faster, or if they hired workman to help with the job, it could have been finished in a few years.

Man who built a half-size replica

To show that the Ark could be built quickly, consider Dutch creationist Johan Huibers, who built his own Ark of cedar and pine. (See photo below.)

Half-size replica of Noah's Ark in Schagen, The Netherlands

BBC News reported on April 29, 2007 that Huibers had built a half-size replica of Noah's Ark in the town of Schagen. It was 150 cubits long, half the real Ark's size, and had three stories. Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras and bison inhabited the Ark's interior.

On opening day in 2007, visitors found inside the ark a 50-seat theatre showing a segment of the Disney film Fantasia, retelling the story of Noah's Ark.

How long did it take Huibers to build this half-size replica? Less than 2 years! And he built most of it himself.

So the real Ark, using Noah and the help of his family or hired workmen, could have been built in around the same time.


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