One Window on the Ark
Genesis 6:14-16 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
After God telling Noah that he is going to destroy the earth and all flesh on the earth He then gives him a command and a plan. The command was to build an ark. The plan was that it was to be made of gopher wood that was sealed with pitch (tar?). It was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. It was to have one window of a cubit. (I assume a cubit square) and it was to have one door in the side. The inside was to be divided into 3 stories. That is the plan of which the minor details are left to our imagination.
There are three words in the Bible that are translated as "ark". The ark of Noah is from the Hebrew "tebah" and it simply means vessel. The ark of the covenant is from the word "arown" and means chest or coffin. In the New Testament oddly enough whether the ark of Noah or the ark of the covenant it is translated from the Greek "kibotos" which has for it's meanings a wooden chest or box. There is nothing to suggest the word "boat" in any of these words and probably the shape of the ark would not suggest it being a boat in the normal sense.
There have been many studies on the dimensions given for the ark and the consensus seems to be that a wooden box of the proportions given is the most stable vessel you could possibly have. You take a box of the relative proportions given and put a lid on it and seal it and it is virtually unsinkable and would be almost impossible for it to roll over, especially if all the heavier objects that it contained were in the lower part of the box. It is my belief that the ark was indeed a floating box as this would give the most room for size and also be the most stable in the unimaginable roughness of the earliest stages of the flood when the ark would have been lifted by the raging flood waters. Perhaps the word barge would come closest to giving a mental image of what the ark was like.
As to the size of the ark there were two cubits in the Bible. One was approximately 18 inches and the other was approximately 21 inches long. Assuming the short cubit was the one used you have an ark 450 feet or 1 1/2 football fields long. It would be 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. This is one big box! This would give an estimated 1,400,000 cubit feet of area (This is according to Henry M. Morris-The Genesis Record). This according to Morris is the equivalent to the capacity of 522 standard livestock rail cars. The approximate capacity of each rail car is 240 sheep. This would give the ark the capacity of around 125,000 sheep in the ark. That's a lot of mutton.
How close these figures are to the exact capacity of the ark is any ones guess. It may be assumed that since the small cubit has been used that we may fairly safely use the term "at least" when discussing the size and capacity of the ark.
In verse 14 the wood commanded to be used was "gopher wood". As to what kind of wood that is only guesses can be made. I have never read where anyone has claimed to know definitely what it was. Whatever it was it was the right wood to use as God designated for that wood to be used. It would have been strong enough, buoyant enough and easy enough to work for Noah and his sons to build it in the 120 years alloted to him before the flood (Gen. 6:3). When you think of the size of the ark and the magnitude of the project you can see that it could easily take a century to build such a structure with so few working on it.
This Bible study is presented by Brother Dwight.