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Building Noahs Ark

noahs ark animals You've just been asked to build a boat taller than a five story building, wider than two transport trucks end to end, and as long as one and a half football fields. If you don't, you are going to drown in a worldwide flood. What do you do?

I don't know about you, but I'd panic. Noah didn't, though.

Before we get into how Noahs ark was actually built, I'm going to tell you a little about the time in which Noah lived about 4500 years ago.

Building Noahs Ark:
Noah was 500 years old when he became a father to Ham, Shem, and Japheth.

First, we tend to forget that God made Adam a full grown man fully capable of utilizing the resources around him. To put this another way, Adam was "programmed" flawlessly by the creator of the universe. He had to be knowledgeable about the world around him. Even after Adam was kicked out of the Garden of Eden, he was able to pass his knowledge to several generations of children.

Building Noahs Ark:
The Nephilim were on the earth in Noah's day. The most biblically sound (in my opinion) "definition" of Nephilim is that they are offspring of angels and humans. Nobody knows for sure what they were, though.

Second, scientific studies indicate there was a higher concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere back in Noah's day. This extra oxygen caused all living things to be much bigger than they are today. Trees were bigger, animals were bigger, and Noah was bigger, too. In fact, it has been suggested that Noah was around ten feet tall - maybe taller.

Think how big Noahs ark must have been! So, what did Noah use to contain the approximate 10,000 tons of food, animals, and water? The Bible says God asked Noah to construct the ark out of gopher wood.

Building Noahs Ark:
Noah and the animals were on the ark for an entire year!

Some experts believe "gopher" was a mistranslation. They think someone mistakenly tried to translate the word "kopher", which means "pitch" in the original Greek text. There is no evidence about the type of wood he used. However, all the beams and boards were made of a wood dense enough and flexible enough to withstand mighty rough seas and strong winds.

So that's one problem solved. On to another one: putting it together. How was the frame assembled? Were the boards nailed on? Noah probably ran down to the local hardware store and got 50,000 pounds of spikes and nailed them, right? Wrong. I don't imagine he had a whole lot of help, given the circumstances. Everybody was too busy partying.

Building Noahs Ark:
One of Noah's great grandson's, Nimrod, grew to be a mighty warrior / hunter before God.

Noah probably used one the following four methods which have been in use for thousands of years: mortise and tenon with timber dowels, mortise and tenon with glue, interlocking timber joints, or metal straps and spikes.

Mortise and tenon is basically a way to join boards cutting the ends of boards and beams to fit into each other tightly. It's kind of like threading a needle, except the beam going in doesn't go all the way through. This method was reinforced in two ways: 1) using dowels, which meant drilling holes through both beams once they were together, and sticking a cylindrical piece of wood called a "dowel" into the hole, and 2) using glue, which meant covering both pieces in some sort of adhesive before putting the beams together. Gluing the joint was much stronger that using a dowel, but both posed problems with flexibility in rough seas.

Building Noahs Ark:
Noah was responsible for the first mention of wine in the Bible. For better or worse, wine was immediately linked it to drunkeness when Noah got drunk and lay naked in his tent.

The best way to explain interlocking timber joints is by looking at the intricacies of a hand shake. The next time you shake your friend's hand, take notice of the grip. You'll notice how your fingers wrap tightly around the other's hand. The two thumbs lock in place making it almost impossible to break apart. Even a mild squeeze is hard to break apart. This is basically how interlocking timber joints work. Each end is carved out a special way to lock both beams into a position. However, this is probably the weakest method of the four, so it probably wasn't used either.

The final method - metal straps and spikes - was probably the method used to hold the frame together. My grandfather used to say, "the more nails you put in a joint, the stronger the joint becomes". He should know because he built several buildings at the university where I grew up. Noah would have had access to iron, and other metals, which he would have forged into long straps. He would also have had the knowledge and ability to mold bolts and nails of iron. These would have been used to attach the metal straps to the large wooden beams, and nail the hull boards to the frame.

Building Noahs Ark:
The theory is that most of the water for the flood came from under ground (the "fountains of the deep broke open"). The theory that most water on the earth was underground and was forced up onto the earth is called the hydroplate theory.

So, he had materials and a way to put them together. How did he put them in place?

Ancient Greeks and Romans frequently used cranes, wenches, pulleys, and levers powered by animals and men to lift heavy objects. Being about 500 years old, I'll bet Noah was smart enough to use these same methods when lifting beams and boards into place once the structure became too high. Remember, with all that extra oxygen, animals and men were a lot bigger and stronger back then. More than strong enough to lift some beams up five stories!

Building Noahs Ark:
The Bible says that it did not rain before the flood, and that springs from the earth watered the plants.

Hmm...I wonder if he tamed a dinosaur or two to help him?

Once Noah had the boat built, he had to keep the water from leaking in. The Bible mentions he was to "pitch" the boat inside and out to seal or waterproof it.

A hundred years ago, it was pretty big business to "tap" pine trees for the pitch. Men scraped a series of "V"s into the side of a tree and hung a bucket at the bottom of the scrapings. Every few months, they would collect the pitch, and refine it by boiling out impurities, leaving behind an excellent substance to seal things like roofs, buckets, and barrels. Remember there was more oxygen? That meant bigger pine trees, and bigger pine trees meant more pitch, more than enough to seal a large boat like the ark inside, and out.

Building Noahs Ark:
Noah was a farmer by trade.

Genesis states that, when God asked Noah to build the ark, He made man's years to be 120. One translation of this verse indicates God set aside 120 years to build Noahs ark (These days, it would take that long to fill out the proper forms just to start a project this big!). All that time would have been needed to build the ark because Noah didn't have access to chainsaws, skidders, motorized cranes, air-nailers, and all the other modern tools that make life faster and easier now.

Building Noahs Ark:
The theory exists that the seas of Noah's time were not salt water. This fact can be verified by measuring the current increase of oceanic salt content, and reversing that trend back 4500 years.

Noah knew how to make use of nearby resources like trees, animals and water. We also know that Noah was smart enough to build devices like simple cranes and lumber mills. He didn't build the ark with a hammer and axe, and then pray for God to provide him with pitch from heaven. Noah used his head and worked steadily at his task.

Although, I'm sure God helped out once in a while.

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