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Ark Replica

Johan Huibers in the Netherlands has built a scale replica of the Ark. I received an email forward that said it used the “exact scale given in Bible”. It is neat to see someone who takes Genesis literally and wants to promote knowledge of the gospel through this means, but there is a few statement on his website that could cause confusion even before the media comes in and enhances the confusion with their own misconceptions.

The builders website says “The original Ark was 140 cubits long, and 23 cubits wide and 14 cubits high, This Ark is 70 cubits long, 9,5 cubits wide and nearly 13 cubits high”. Breaking this down we have the following:

140 x 23 x 14 = 45,080 cubic cubits – Actual?
70 x 9.5 x 13 = 8,645 cubic cubits – Replica

By these dimensions the replica is 19.18% as large as the original or about 1/5 as large. Of course the dimensions are distorted. The replica is about 5/10 as long, 4/10 as wide and 9/10 as high. This certainly could lead to some misconceptions. It seems like it could have at least been made 1/2 as large for all dimensions, not just the length. That would have made for a vessel 70 x 11.5 x 7. Perhaps these dimensions weren’t as usable for his purposes.

Of course if you look at the builder’s blog about the full size replica they are working on, that one will be 153.2 yards long x 27.35 yards wide x 19.7 yards high using an 18.4 inch per cubit relationship (18 inches is typically used). Reversing those dimensions using their size for a cubit we get the following dimensions for the original ark:

300 x 54 x 39 = 631,800 cubic cubits

But wait a minute, did the original ark really have those dimensions? We don’t have to guess or suppose about the cubits. The scripture says in Genesis 6:14-16 that “…The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits and its height thirty cubits.” Those dimensions yield the following:

300 x 50 x 30 = 450,000 cubic cubits

Perhaps the differences between the actual and this second reconstruction are due to the limitations of the barges being used to construct the second replica, but that still doesn’t explain the first. Here is a side by side comparison of the first replica and the actual ark:

300 x 50.0 x 30 = 450,000 cubic cubits – biblical dimensions
70 x 9.5 x 13 = 8,645 cubic cubits – Replica

So the replica is 23/100 as long, 19/100 as wide, 43/100 as tall and only has 2% of the volume of the original. I don’t see any way the replica could be considered 1/2 as large as the original, but 1/5 doesn’t seem quite right either. Averaging the ratios to the originals gives an average ratio of 28/100, which is 7/25 somewhere between 1/3 and 1/4 the size of the original. Perhaps I’m too much of a stickler for accuracy, and perhaps the good being done by this project is not hindered by these discrepancies. I certainly hope that this is the case. In any case at least the full size replica has closer to the correct proportions.

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Categories: Bible
  1. Michael
    December 29, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Remember, many people seem to think that a 1/4 pound hamburger is bigger than a 1/3 pound hamburger. So, if a mathematician is correct but there is no one who cares to comprehend what he is saying, does it matter?

  2. Leigh Riffel
    January 5, 2009 at 2:50 am

    Well, yes, it matters to me.

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