God has had enough. Man had made a mess of His creation. Only one man in his generation is following God. It’s time to wipe away the mess and start again.
Noah gets his instructions straight from God. “Noah walked with God” (verse 9b). From this verse it also looks like my question of “were Noah’s sons born when he began working on the ark” is answered. We are told that “Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (verse 10). So I’m going to assume that all three of these boys were born, but we don’t know how old they were. We know their approximate ages at the time they entered the ark but not when construction began. We also don’t know if they were married yet, but God’s promise would apply to their spouses too.
My dad is a GREAT builder! I love helping him out with his projects. I don’t get to do that anymore as he lives on one side of the mountain and me on the other. (Him in Klamath Falls OR and me in Rogue River OR.) My main job was to hold things and hand him things. It wasn’t an essential job but I know it made things go a little faster for him. Depending on their age and abilities, Noah’s sons were probably a big help to him in this project. Noah’s project was pretty substantial so I’m going to try and figure out about how long it MIGHT have taken with four men working on it together.
One cubit is about 18 inches or 45 centimeters. I got this figure from my bible helps. The ark is 300 cubits (L) x 50 cubits (W) x 30 cubits (H). It has three decks (stories) and a roof. We don’t know if it was a pitched room or a flat one. Pitched sounds best to me as it would let the water run off instead of pooling on it. It also has a large door and a window. I say “large” because it had to be big enough to let the animals in, no matter their size. Elephants and giraffes need more room than monkeys and dogs.
This makes this box, as the dimensions would suggest, 450 feet/135 meters long, by 75 feet/22.5 meters wide, by 45 feet/13.5 meters high. Each deck would be 15 feet/4.5 meters high, if they were spaced evenly. The flooring of one level would be 33,750 sq. ft./1,0287 sq. meters. Multiply that by three and you have the flooring measurements of 101,250 sq. ft./30,861 sq. meters. The sides of the ark need to be calculated next. The long sides will be 20,250 sq. ft./6,172.2 sq. meters each; 40,500 sq. ft./12,344.4 sq. meters for both. The ends will be 3,375 sq. ft./1,028.7 sq. meters each; 6,750 sq. ft./2,056.2 sq. meters for both. We will put a 4/12 pitch on our roof as this is considered the minimum for a good residential roof. This results in a 18.5 degree angle on the lower part of our 90 degree triangle and a 71.5 degree angle on the top part. This makes our roof distance from edge to center 39.54 ft./12.05 meters. To make our roof overhang a little I’m going to round it out to 40 ft./12.192 meters. This brings the measurement of materials for the roof to 36,000 sq. ft/10,972.8 sq. meters for both sides. So our TOTAL surface lumber needs will be 184,500 sq. ft./56,235.6 sq. meters. This is not counting ANY structural support beams, rafters, studs and any other wood needed to make interior walls and doors. THAT’S A LOT OF LUMBER!!!
I was wondering how many trees this would take so, of course, I turned to Google. I looked up a calculator of how many board feet you can expect from a tree. I found an approximate formula from Ohio State University. As you can see from the tables, the number of board feet is determined by the diameter of the tree and how tall its usable height is. I have no idea how large the trees were in Noah’s time nor the average tree dimensions for gopher wood. So I’m going to grab the middle diameter and a little higher height from our chart and work with that. I’m making them taller as I will call this an “old growth forest” that Noah had to work with. Diameter of 26 inches and 3 “16 foot log” sections brings the total board foot to 700 per tree. By my earlier calculations, Noah would need 264 trees for the surface lumber. I’m going to double this number to make up for our missing structural support lumber, leaving him cutting down 528 trees. THAT’S A LOT OF TREES!!!
AFTER he cuts these trees down, he has to remove the bark, saw them into planks, plane them, and then cut them into appropriate lengths, thicknesses, and widths to work with. I see this whole project as a HUGE jigsaw puzzle! Finding the right size of board to work in each area. According to Genesis 4:22 there were tools of metal at the time. I found a video on Youtube that shows splitting short logs for making boards using hand tools. He uses metal wedges in his process and a metal planer. I found another one using LONG logs but they too are using metal tools that may not have been available to Noah and sons. Cain’s descendants included one who was a metal worker but was this knowledge shared with Seth’s line? I have no idea the hours it would have taken Noah to do this prep work using his tools but I’m going to say it was a substantial amount of time! I would give him AT LEAST 20 years for fashioning his lumber, drying it and getting it ready to build with.
Next he has to assemble this enormous structure. It is going to take “all hands on deck” for this job! It will also involve some kind of scaffolding and ladders to get the materials into place. I could see anywhere from two to ten years for this part of the process, depending on how much help he had.
Finally he has to paint the ENTIRE surface with pitch; inside and out. This is to make it watertight. It will be in the water for a full year, so there can be NO seam left open. I would imagine they had a barrel of the pitch onboard to patch any leaks that might develop along the way too. Makes sense to me anyway.
I don’t know if Noah was in the building trade when he started this project but by the time he was finished, he was an expert! Imagine Noah and God having the conversation about this building project.
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Noah has been walking with God for his whole life. He is familiar with His voice. Noah is also familiar with His heart. He sees the condition of the world around him. He knows that it is NOT pleasing to God. He shakes his head as he watches the people in the market. He sees the thieves. He knows even his favorite baker cheats him on his goods at times. Noah has tried confronting some of these people but it only results in abuse or laughter. “Go home old man! Keep your nose out of my business.” Noah has given up on all but his own family. They will learn the ways of God, by the rod if necessary.
Noah is sitting in his garden one morning when God speaks to him. “Noah, I have had enough of man’s behavior. NO ONE is listening anymore, except you.”
“I know Lord. I’ve tried speaking out but I get nowhere.”
“It is time to do something about it. I’m going to start over and rebuild from the beginning.”
“What do You mean Lord? Rebuild man? How would You do that?”
“I have determined to make an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold I will destroy them with the earth” (verse 13).
Noah is silent as he considers what this means. ‘All flesh’ includes everyone and everything. Finally he asks, “Why are You telling me this Lord? What am I supposed to do with this knowledge?”
“I’m glad you asked” replies God. “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it” (verses 14-15a).
“What is an ‘ark’ Lord?”
“It is a vessel that will rest on the water. That is why using pitch is so important. It must be water tight.”
“Ok Lord. Let me grab something to write with. I don’t want to miss a word of Your instructions.” Noah hurries in the house and grabs a parchment, ink and a pen then rushes back to the garden. “Ok Lord, I’m ready.”
“The length of the ark is 300 cubits, its breadth is 50 cubits, and its height is 30 cubits” (verse 15b).
“Ok. This is going to be one BIG structure!”
“Make a roof for the ark, finish it to a cubit above and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks” (verse 16).
“Three decks, a door, and a roof. This is HUGE! Why am I making it so big? What are You going to do with it? What are You going to put in it? And You said it was to be used on water, right?”
“Yes it will be on water.”
“How am I supposed to get this enormous thing to the water?!”
“You won’t have to bring it to the water, I will bring the water to it.”
“I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.”
Again Noah is silent. He has settled his heart to do exactly as the Lord says, no matter what questions are screaming in his mind.
God begins to speak again and it is amazing how His words meet the questions in Noah’s mind. “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 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 according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kings, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, to of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive” (verses 18-20).
“No wonder it has to be so big. That’s a LOT of occupants! Ok. What next?”
“Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them” (verse 21).
“WOW! I have a BIG job before me. I better get working. Everything will be exactly as You showed me Lord. I’m certainly going to need Your help! Give me the knowledge and the tools necessary for this job. Give my wife, my sons and their wives the desire to help in this task. This is going to take all of us working together. I don’t need dissention in the ranks if we are to accomplish Your design. They will need to understand that this is a matter of life and death and that it is only by YOUR grace that we are being allowed to be part of Your work.”
I can see Noah then sitting down and making some of the same calculations I just did. After he gets an idea of how much wood he will need, he goes into the forest and starts marking trees. He takes along his writing supplies so he can keep calculating as he goes. “This on is straight and true. Not that one, or that one over there…” Several hours later he looks at what he has done and thinks, “That’s a good start. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we get down to the real work.”
There is no putting this job off until a better time or when his other work is done. This has to be his number one priority. I doubt he has all the knowledge or skills that will be required throughout the lifetime of the task, but he trusts God to give him what he needs when he needs it; including the extra hands for help.
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Father God, THANK YOU again for not starting over again from scratch. Thank You for letting me see the magnitude of Noah’s task. I have always known that it was a BIG job but never sat down to estimate how big. I doubt Noah hired helpers as they would either laugh at him or insist on a place on the ark in exchange for their labor. This was a family job; Your little family. But with You involved, it was bound to succeed. Then again, Noah could have said, “It’s too hard” and tried to take some short cuts. Thank You for trusting him with Your plans. Thank You for giving him the strength to do it Your way too. On his own he probably would have been like any of the rest of us; looking to shorten the work or lighten the workload. Did You “pre-train” him? Did You order his life into the fields that would give him the skills for this task LONG before calling on him to Your drafting table?
I have noticed in my life that You orchestrated “pre-training” for me to do the jobs I have now. My training for the job of caring for my husband began YEARS before we even met. I learned how to do many of the tasks I have to do now the first time I went back to school. I didn’t use those skills a lot during the jobs I had at the time but I still remembered the training when it was needed.
For the “job”, or should I say “joy”, of writing, You started that training all the way back in high school. You showed me the joy of writing. But for this deep writing from my heart and journaling from Your word, You began training me in my darkest hours. Those times were when I looked deeper into Your word than I ever thought possible (for me). Now You let me use what I learned then to enrich my life and share Your words with others too. I don’t know how long this “job” is going to take and what skills I may need to learn along the way, but like Noah, with You ALL things are possible. Lead on Father God! I will follow. Help me get back on track whenever I start to wander or think it’s taking too long. One day at a time Lord.