Monday, July 27, 2009
To obtain a copy, please visit <www.manariwa.com>.
I. About the Book
Imaging Noah’s Ark and the Earth’s Past
God is infinite fun.
-- Mary O’Hara
I had started to draft an article to highlight certain construction
features of Noah’s Ark before I decided to write this book. Wanting, in fact, to make it a light-hearted, if not hilarious, take on some atrocious chores Noah and his family did in order to save animal life, I ended up uncovering a few laughable and some incredible, yet all plausible scenarios behind this primeval catastrophe chronicled by Moses.
Imagine, for instance, the question of how they dealt with the disposal of -- pardon the French, as some would say – manure.
The question led to curious, unexpected insights until it became a whole virtual documentary on a simple Sunday-School story we all are familiar with and a well-entrenched lore in so many cultures. As it looks now, it will certainly surprise many as to how one person’s morbid desire to dissect the past will expose the entrails of an epic tale and somehow clear out longstanding suppositions and even unscientific conclusions.
Moses wrote down Noah’s saga in three short chapters in Genesis. It is said that he borrowed much from the Babylonian account of the flood, leading some to doubt the story’s authenticity. But that would be like rejecting the Romans’ accounts of ancient history for the simple reason that they were Romans.
Would a prophet of God, commissioned to declare the truth, fail in his mission just because he trusted in the oral or written traditions of his time? Either we depend on God’s might to preserve history accurately through those He called to do the job or we don’t at all. If we don’t, then we reject totally His abilities, if not His very existence. And that is where all the confusion comes from. Lack of faith totally erases the memory and the credibility of those who labored to declare the truth. It creates an empty gap or a lifeless vacuum not only in the mind but more so in the soul. It blinds our vision to reality.
God is not a “God of gaps” as He is called by many but a God of mystery. Our parents never taught us everything; but as we matured we learned to think for ourselves and to gain enough knowledge. That is, as long as we stayed in school or, more importantly, kept our curiosity alive.
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of Noah and his Ark, giving credence to Moses’ account. The Apostle Peter and Paul referred to Noah as a “worker of righteousness”. How could we not look at this story then and be amazed by its power to lure so many earnest archeologists to spend their entire lives searching for the remains of the Ark. A few have claimed they had found it.
But will the discovery of the Ark convince skeptics and cynics? It might. But why do it for them? Noah built the Ark not to save unbelievers but to save believers like himself, his family and, well, the docile animals.
Will the discovery of the Ark strengthen the faith of believers? It might. But why believe more after seeing when one already believed without seeing? God had the Ark made to serve a specific purpose. Rather, believe in Christ and His resurrection and all things will fall neatly under the glorious light of that knowledge.
So why write another book about Noah’s Ark?
Simply this: To allow as many people as possible to give the Scriptures a final hearing before the Book of Life finally closes on us all. Not by literally discovering the Ark or illustrating accurately and factually Noah’s story (although that would be a noble task worth pursuing) but by using the story as a “case study” to help us how we can unravel some of the mysteries of life and the Universe.
Before there was science, there was only plain common sense or what others may call folk wisdom. What the ancients could not explain, they wove into intricate stories we now call myths. Yet, behind those stories – if we could but untangle them – is the essence of what precise science would define as “observable truth”. Using the same plain common sense and enough science, therefore, we can repaint a clear picture of the past.
With so much knowledge and information available at the tip of our fingers, we should all have come to that point when we could all finally say, “Eureka! I know what life is all about!” But we can’t. For we are forced to ask, in spite of all the advancement and discoveries in medicine: “How come we still get sick and die?”
Some things do lie beyond human comprehension. But that should not stop us from being hopeful, happy or healthy in spite of the inevitability of sorrow, sickness and death. The human spirit will not and should not give in to defeat and darkness. We all desire to overcome all obstacles and to see the light.
Yes, in the end, we all want to hold on to life as much and as long as possible. The story of Noah is God’s way of saying: Hold on to Me. Hold on to life.
Rebuilding our Minds and Spirits
I have seen the consummation of all perfection,
But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
-- Psalm 119:6
To many, Noah exemplifies obedience. His story does provide a forceful and dramatic, graphical broadside for a fire-and-brim-stone sermon. Not a few people have been converted when they came face-to-face with that image of a wrathful God.
Yet, Noah is more than that. He – or, rather, his tale – illustrates the inerrancy and accuracy of the Scriptures. So, instead of dragging back Noah to terrify us, why not invite him and allow him to regale us with startling events and remarkable ideas that will stimulate the mind as well as revive the spirit?
Remember, Noah did not bring on a disaster. He simply wanted to avoid being caught in one. He had the means and the dedication to do it and did what was asked of him. For his faith, he survived.
Would you have done the same thing?
To answer that question completely, one needs to have enough information on the circumstances behind Noah’s environment, his character and his beliefs. Yes, we first have to put ourselves in his sandals to understand what he saw and what he knew and how he thought things out. In order to do that, consider several principles that might help us understand Scriptures (in particular, Noah’s story) by applying them not just in biblical interpretation, but also in the general pursuit of knowledge and the appreciation of life – both physical and otherwise:
1. The Bible was written by strictly accurate chroniclers of facts and of real or actual events.
Forget for a while the miracles that seem to fog out our minds to the simple truths that really matter. Let’s just deal with palm-sized, dirt-stained facts initially and work up to the more fuzzy spiritual issues (not in this book though) most people incessantly argue about.
Take, for instance, the small specification given to Noah as to the type of wood to use for the Ark -- gopher. Some say this wood is acacia or something similar to it. Most likely it was cypress, a common wood used for boat-building which has naturally tall, straight trunks, unlike acacia. Whatever it was, it must have been something common and accessible to Noah wherever he was planning to build the Ark. And it must have been of such quality as to be perfectly suitable for a structure that required strength, durability, flexibility, resilience, water-resistance and, necessarily, natural buoyancy. From a technical point of view then, gopher satisfied all those requirements we mentioned and, perhaps, others we are not aware of.
Without these assumptions, we would be hard put to understand why God would even specify a particular kind of wood and not have simply left out that detail for Noah to figure out. It seems obvious then that certain facts are beyond human reach at particular stages in human history. Hence, what Noah lacked in technological know-how, God provided through revelation.
That may raise more issues than answers. But we never said life was that simple, even for those who claimed they could talk to God. It is precisely our aim to synthesize the knowable and the unknowable (or, at least, things that we perceive to be so) into one simple and understandable whole we can use to solve many other problems. What we know by virtue of history and experience can only make sense if seen in the light of what God tells us. That is why there is such a thing as revelation and faith: to help us correct our inherent spiritual blindness. And along the way, assuage our physical frailties.
In the end, we hope to prove that a story that seems to require “blind faith” (or simple gullibility, for some) to be believed, only requires some imagination to become a story so full of “invisible” evidences that not believing it would amount to foolishness. And at times, what our eyes of faith (often blurred by so many theological or parochial biases) may not clearly see from afar, our eyes of logic can create a picture of, right in front of us. In doing so, we will realize that what we may carelessly take as myth is, in fact, real or factual history.
2. The essential facts written can and will point us to other undiscovered facts or principles without changing the original concept of the story.
Given the sparse narrative handed down by Moses in the Torah, it is not surprising that many have remained as clueless as kids listening to their teacher talk about a gigantic vessel manned by a white-haired captain of 600 years. Thinking of one’s 90-year-old grandfather who might be bound to a wheelchair, how could a 600-year-old man possibly be any less farther from the grave?
Perhaps, Noah, during the time he built the Ark for more than a century, may have aged rapidly through all that labor. But if he died at the age of 950 years, he still might have been a dark-haired, muscular and strong man when he built the Ark and a long, long time after that. The task definitely was not for weaklings or for senior-citizens. After the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard -- certainly not an option for present centenarians either. Yet, the image of a weary, old Noah building the Ark many find hard to shake off their minds.
Which then is easier to accept: a young-looking Noah at 600 or a flood that covered the entire globe? Many would reject both. Yet, a much younger-looking and energetic Noah will not in any way affect the essence or the veracity of the Great Flood story. In fact, it opens up our minds to new ways of looking at other aspects of his tale that would validate the original premise of the story. The trick is to free our boxed-in minds with enough evidences unseen so far.
3. Differences between modern and ancient languages, cultures and physical environments often prevent a clear understanding of Biblical narratives, particularly in the Old Testament.
A thick, dark blanket seems to separate us from the distant past and prevents our understanding of how people thought and behaved then. Numerous scholars and teachers have provided us with various ways of looking at Scriptures with rather interesting possibilities. Hence, the existence of so many groups with their numerous and sometimes conflicting pet-teachings and practices.
We are all aware of certain passages that seem to defy logic and lead to endless controversies. Think of the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea or the visions of Ezekiel. How can we avoid facing such an undesirable consequence?
By simply assuming what any normal being would think and do under the same given or presumed circumstances. For example, given that the Ark’s human occupants had to relieve themselves, we can safely assume that they must have had some way to answer the call of nature without causing unhygienic consequences.
But why should we bother with such trivial matters?
It was beyond the narrative goals of Moses to go to the details of how such a mundane matter was taken care of. However, we will find out that in precisely answering that need, we will be able to sort out certain facts that lie behind the written record and in the process also reinforce the authenticity of the written record itself.
In short, silence of the Scriptures need not mean we remain totally clueless as to what may have actually happened.
4. In reading the Bible, therefore, we must not allow ancient practices or “old modes” of thinking to confuse or prevent us from accepting evidences that validate or reinforce the authenticity of the Bible.
Yes, most people approach the Bible with a lot of hesitation and unfounded fears. This has especially been true in the case of Noah’s story as well as other equally incredible stories such as the Creation and the Tower of Babel. We can certainly learn from how the ancients thought and what they practiced; but, in the end, it is us who must make a final judgment on how we must believe and act within our present social, cultural and geophysical context.
Ironically to many, scientists and historians included, the idea of a global flood does not go beyond the realm of fiction or even remote possibility. They seem to reject outright the written record as something they cannot prove scientifically, not for the lack of trying but for the seeming lack of hard evidence to support the record. So, instead of looking more deeply into the story and finding clues to show that it did happen, many choose rather to disregard the idea or replace it with the more “scientifically-based” alternative scenarios or theories.
As a result, these so-called natural “laws” or scientific theories have succeeded in drowning out whatever sparse images that are presented about Noah and his little adventure instead of allowing pure science or simple derivable facts of nature to support the validity of the story and the entire Bible.
5. Finally, we have the freedom to seek or to consider and to choose alternative options within the wide range of possibilities given to us by God.
I have given you all the trees for food except for one….*
God had given humans, first and foremost, vast freedom. Yes, it is within this freedom that we find unlimited growth, not to mention great privileges and unbounded joy. Unfortunately and ironically, as in the case of Adam and Eve, it is also the road to destruction.
Behind our multicultural preferences for pizza, hamburger, escargot, ramen, kimchi, menudo, paksiw and other dishes, salivates our common biological need for protein, carbohydrates and minerals. Looking for the commonalities, therefore, carries with it the key toward discovering the roots to our physical and our spiritual origins as one family of God, as well as attaining the fruits of our common progress.
All that is necessary then for us to walk the safe, middle-of-the-road path is to follow the leading of those people involved in these stories. For we, humans like they were, would have made the same choices they made and, thereby, gained the corresponding results of those choices. But since they went ahead of us, they can inspire or warn us and future generations. As our examples or our precursors then, they teach us to walk our own lives.
With the given simplicity of the record on Noah’s work, we face the formidable challenge of retracing his footsteps while applying the above guidelines. For certain, there will be wide mental gaps between how things actually happened and what real circumstances affected people’s behavior and what we picture in this book. But how similar or different was their world then compared to ours? Can we assume that the Earth has always been the way we have known it to be or, by some unseen possibility, so much different that our own way of interpreting history based on our view of the world would be totally irrelevant?
To uncover the past, we have to allow the mind of God (as He recorded it a long time ago in Scriptures) to lead us to a new and broader understanding of Noah’s story. Hence, through this, we hope that other stories in the Bible will somehow become clearer under the light of a newly acquired perspective.
Before we behold the clouds gathering and feel the cold rains pouring, let us begin our chronicle of Noah’s life from the moment he received the call from God.
*A paraphrasing of Gen. 2:16, 17.
The Ark Re-Built
The Earth Condemned: Real Events and Facts
And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
“Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, cover it inside and outside with pitch.
“And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
“You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”
God’s decision was clear and firm: The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the Earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the Earth.
Noah jumped up from his bed after a dream-encounter with God, heart pounding and body perspiring. He had found himself almost drowning in dark, angry waters, gasping and clutching on nothing as he tried to remain afloat in the unceasing and unforgiving rush of water from the endless sky and from the black abyss. The writhing bodies of thousands of people drowning underneath him and grabbing his feet had terrified him and made him tremble like a wet, cold puppy.
He got out of the house and searched the glowing night sky for signs that may have given him answers to his fears. Would God show Himself to Noah to confirm the vision? For several minutes he paced the ground, rubbing his body and his hands nervously. He uttered a prayer to God for calmness. His chest heaved as his heart still struggled for air. He wanted to drink water but the memory of drowning in his dream prevented him.
Gradually, his heart quieted down and he remembered God telling him to build a huge box. “A wooden box!” he told himself. With so many other possible builders, he wondered if he was really the right person for such a gargantuan job. But there was no arguing about it. Noah had been chosen.
Noah had known of a coming great flood from his grandfather Methuselah. His father Lamech also knew about it and kept reminding Noah about his eventual part in it. God had finally given him the escape plan: Make an ark (or box). Use gopher wood. Build rooms inside. The dimensions will be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Put a window above and a door on the side. Build three decks. And seal it inside and outside.
A God-fearing man, Noah (who, at 16, might have heard the story of the Creation and of the Fall right at the feet of his grandfather Enos, the grandson of Adam) became known among his people as the “preacher of righteousness”. To him as well as many of his relatives, the Great First Story of Adam and Eve had remained fresh in the mind. That memory was as young as the ground he stood upon. He knew the goodness as well as the wrath of God well enough. But this so-called Flood: It was surely going to be a much more traumatic – no, catastrophic – experience for him and for all people. His dream-experience gave him the vision of dire things to come. In order to survive, his only choice was to execute the plan from heaven.
It might have taken some more time for Noah to get more specific instructions regarding the Ark and to accustom himself to the idea of the unusual project. Certainly, he must have asked God: How much time will You give me to do this job, Lord?
Just do the job and you will have the time to finish it.
God might have said that to Noah. It was His way of telling Noah, “Be patient.” As we know, it took Noah 120 years to build the Ark, or, at least, to wait for the Flood to come.
In one neat, short paragraph, God had delivered the plan for the Ark (as Moses told it). If a city government or a private company had given the same contract to Noah today, the enormous task would have taken no less than a dozen big-sized blueprints just for the drawings, not including the material specifications and detailed construction methods to be used.
What’s a wise builder to do with such a tall task?
If you were 480 years old like Noah was then, how would you feel about starting a project that would take a hundred years to finish? That must be like being 50 or 60 years old today and you have ten years to build, for instance, in the middle of the Gobi Desert a gigantic bio-sphere that will house all of the world’s plants as well as endangered animals. That might parallel Noah’s task, if not in scale then maybe in outlandishness. But ten years is definitely not a hundred years. Most people would not last beyond twenty years of such hard work.
But if you were Noah, who must have been a highly-qualified and productive builder and a well-off person, by all accounts, it must have been like a big promotion, no less welcome than Abe Lincoln’s finally winning for the first time in an election and becoming president of the USA.
Some scholars claim that Noah may have been a king. And why not? Moses, who helped build Egypt’s pyramids and established the Israelite nation, was a prince of Egypt and a ruler of a nation. Solomon, who built the glorious temple of Jerusalem, was a king. Why should Noah, who built the first largest vessel that would only be surpassed after more than five millennia, be any less in stature? How long have we pictured him to be a mere carpenter or an itinerant preacher? (Someone else would receive that greater honor.)
But forget about technical qualifications. What clinched the job for Noah was his character. Surely, other builders were around during his time; but only he passed God’s primary consideration – his unique personal quality of righteousness. (Take note: His age and his direct link to Adam didn’t mean much of a thing as almost everyone lived long then and was a self-confessed grandchild of Adam! Everyone was family, so to speak.)
Try to imagine a world in a real doomsday mess. Every single thought of every person or creature – man, woman, child and animal – was evil. Society was in chaos. Nature went berserk. Rules did not matter. Every individual was motivated by greed. The ends justified the means. The means included all the conceivable tricks in the deep bag of human depravity: lust, envy, murder, immorality, deception, bestiality, debauchery, dishonor, thievery, idolatry, infidelity, vanity, disobedience and godlessness. In short, people acted wickedly as if led about by animalistic instincts. And animals were led by, well, inhuman thoughts and habits.
That was Noah’s world.(1) It no longer resembled in any way the world that God had conceived and created. That ours may not be that far from it, gives us reason to reconsider Noah’s option.
For many generations, God had searched in vain for goodness in humans. He had found not many deserving of life – that is, to enjoy the blessings that were meant to make people grateful to their Creator and Provider. If you were God, given a few remaining good seeds with which to rebuild the Earth, you would have decided to go ahead and place your hope on those few seeds. And given so much corruption and rebellion, you would also have regretted having created humans at all.
God regretted and decided to destroy life and to rebuild the Earth.
Were these real events and facts? We need to ask now or else not bother finishing a story that many still confine to the files of fantasy or fiction. How do we go about attesting to its authenticity?
The Chinese have an ancient legend where a certain Nüwa survives a flood in a boat or gourd. Is this merely a cultural coincidence of perhaps an amazingly well-preserved hidden historical fact? We need not mention the Mayans, the aborigines of Australia and the Babylonians and more than two hundred other nations with a similar folklore. We will try to show later how this cultural phenomenon arose. But with Noah alone, we already have the simple and clear facts presented, if anyone cares to take the time.
Ultimately, we may escape the truth but not the consequences. That was the story of people who perished in the Flood. That, like it or not, is still the story of people today.
In establishing the veracity of the Flood story, we will present historical records and with the aid of a little math, some science and a plethora of our common human experiences we will derive a more-or-less complete picture of real events and facts.
The crisis was real even for Noah. He saw what was happening around him and felt God’s indignation as well. The judgment of God had been declared. The world, as usual, had no clue whatsoever.
And so, God passed on to Noah the job of declaring his coming judgment. Noah held his cubit against his chest, firmly committing himself to the task at hand. There was no one else to do the job. It was time to build the Ark.
(1) We will look more closely at Noah’s society in Chapter 11.
Planning Out the Ark's Construction
"The earth is wicked again. I'm gonna flood it and start over," God told Noah. "Build another ark and save two of every living thing."
Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard -- but no boat. "Where's the ark?" he roared. "I'm about to start the rain."
"Things have changed," Noah said. "First, I needed a building permit. Then some group said it was inhumane to put the animals in such a close space. Then the EPA halted construction to conduct an environmental impact study on the flood."
Suddenly the clouds cleared and a rainbow stretched across the sky.
"You mean you're not going to destroy the world?" Noah asked.
"What's the point?" God said. "Looks like someone beat me to it."(1)
Noah would use his cubit for a long, long time, measuring lumber, ropes, food bins, cisterns, iron rods and even animals. With a blueprint the size of his palm, he had to come up with a way of designing the Ark so that it would sustain life in the most unnatural and dire conditions. A veritable zoo contained in a literal box.
How would an ordinary builder build such a structure today?
First, there would have to be a proper foundation. Wait, a floating box would not need one! Or perhaps, it might have. For more than a hundred years, it will sit there waiting for the rains and it better be strong enough to stand the forces of nature – winds, quakes, lightning, rains, waves and, yes, a raging flood. It may not have needed a strong mooring connecting it deep into the ground as most buildings do; but it had to have some support to keep it upright and stable until the waters would lift it up.
In planning the supports for a box structure, Noah would have chosen a site where the natural formation allowed him to build directly on stable and level ground or bedrock. Ordinarily, he would have needed to prevent the rotting of wood used for supporting the structure but we will point out that this may not have been a critical problem then.
With floor dimensions of 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide (about 157 meters x 26 meters)(2), it would not have been hard to find a flat place in a valley near a forest where Noah could build his project. There would have to have been a river nearby to provide water for the workers and for the project.
And, of course, we would expect that Noah and his family also had a way of providing for their food while they built the Ark. That meant having a continuous source of food nearby, like a sizable farm run by some relatives.
Could Noah and a dozen other people have built the Ark only by themselves? That is possible. They could have bought all the timber and had them delivered on site. Or Noah must have owned all the land that contained an entire forest. Either way, the lumber existed in abundance at the time. Hired hands must have cut them into the right sizes. As a presumably experienced builder himself, Noah might have had already set up his own crew under his employment.
Most people will think that the dimensions of the Ark make it appear as an impossible task for those supposedly crude, ancient people. Not really. Much of the work anyway in building a big rectangular box was repetitive.(3) Given the same amount of time and resources, anyone could have done it, but for the main ingredient – unrelenting faith in a seemingly impossible task.
What kept them diverted and inspired, perhaps, was the task of convincing relatives and friends what it was all about. If you truly believed in what you are doing and knew all the while that your life depended on it, the tedious task will not have seemed burdensome. Under such circumstances, faith truly mattered.
It is quite acceptable then that Noah’s new project did not take much of a paradigm shift for him. Imagine if Noah had been a baker or a tailor previously! Noah had lived an upright life and building the Ark, as we surmised, merely gave him a career push to the top. As a success-driven and enterprising person, therefore, he must have had an open eye to those extraordinary challenges ambitious people secretly aspire for or passionately seek and eventually grow into. Michael Jordan, aiming for his “three-peat”, was not traipsing along in a freak accident but living out his chosen destiny. Noah saw his mission becoming clearer as the Ark’s foundation took shape. He had a long way to go but he was well on his way to an appointment with his destiny.
Preparing a “foundation” the size of a football field using only “crude” materials and equipment might overwhelm us today but not the ancients. They thought big and definitely built big. They had tall ziggurats that cut the horizons. Pyramids that spread over once vast fertile fields. Hanging gardens that decorated palaces. And temples that straddled mountains. Long before Noah had started the Ark, the basic construct-ion know-how had already been established. The use of timber and metal as well as the invention of tools had developed well enough to allow Noah to reach his goal. In Gen. 4:22, we are told that five generations from Cain (Noah was nine generations from Cain), Tubal-Cain had discovered the use of bronze and iron.
Yes, Noah had only basic tools and simple building techniques. But if we come to think of it, his project was not that complex. It was big definitely; but it was not something his heart and mind could not manage. Besides, it is not our modern technology that builds colossal monuments to human ingenuity and skills; it is vision. Of all those ancient builders, Noah had the clearest vision of all. Why? His job was commissioned by God. Does God ever give us a job we cannot hope to finish?
How long did the Ark’s “foundation” take to build?
We have to admit the possibility that Noah may have sought some help in the beginning in terms of procuring materials such as lumber, rocks, bronze, iron, ropes and others. Likewise, with about 50 to 100 workers, Noah might have been able to prepare a simple base-support system made of hardwood logs laid out parallel on the ground and wedged by rocks or wood blocks. Upon this system, he could have easily rolled over at least 2-meter wide cypress logs which had to be pared into square cross-sectional shape. Fig. 1 shows how Noah could have easily constructed the bottom hull with plain construction methods.
Fig. 1 – Artist’s Concept for Ark Base Construction
Take note that in putting up the support, Noah allowed enough space for workers to reach the bottom of the Ark for waterproofing with pitch (people assume this is bitumen or asphalt but we will show an alternative substance later on) and other construction and maintenance work. Remember that the bottom of the Ark was going to be the first and the last part of the vessel that would engage the flood and the one that will bear the brunt of the water pressure as well as the stresses of the entire weight of the cargo and of the Ark itself during the whole time. On it rested, literally, the life of the Ark.
Knowing that, Noah must have spent many nights thinking of how to accomplish that primary requirement. A thick hull was a possible way to go. Or he might have provided a series of ballasts underneath to serve as a first defense against water seepage. This will also serve other vital purposes, as we shall see later on. (Fig. 2) That would have meant decreasing the effective height of the Ark allotted for the occupants. Worth a try! Whichever way Noah went, he did what was right.
Fig. 2 – Concept for Construction of Ark Ballasts
At this point, we can be sure that Noah had accumulated the enormous resources he needed for the project. More than four hundred years must have given him enough time to establish not just the business network to be able to generate the funds and resources to sustain his heavenly contract prior to its implementation. We can imagine Bill Gates leaving Microsoft and spending part of his wealth building a titanic house on the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the next ten years and he would still be very rich after that.
The first few years of the project moved slowly and smoothly. Noah held that cubit, just like Moses holding on to his staff. The great Architect in heaven had shown him the plan and he had gradually developed the capability needed to reach the goal. Patience and diligence kept Noah on top of the game. At 500 or so, he felt strong and eager to push on to the end. He had time in his hands. His faith remained intact, his vision clear.
(1) Submitted by E. T. Thompson, Reader’s Digest online.
(2) One Egyptian royal cubit is 20.61 inches or 1.72 feet or 0.5235 meter.
(3) Further investigation will bear out that Noah must have had more than a dozen people working with him. In fact, even before he might have married and had children, he already began the work with the help of so many of his relatives as discussed in Chapter 13.
"Fifteen cubits did the Waters Prevail"
Moses & The Red Sea
Nine-year-old Joey, was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school. "Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed head-quarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved."
"Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked.
"Well, no, Mom. But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"(1)
How valid are our assumptions here? Are they at all plausible? How, for instance, could we know that the foundation was as simple as we have pictured it here? Of course, we will never have an accurate way of knowing.
Some foundations take time to build because of the difficulty in digging into bedrock. Others may simply require removing soil and pouring in concrete over reinforcing steel bars. On the average, the foundation works would take 10 to 15% in terms of cost and 10 to 20% in terms of time. Using these figures as a basis for a rough estimate, with a handful of helpers, a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 20 years might have taken Noah to finish the Ark’s supports. Not so many contractors today would be so patient!
Since the Ark did not actually need an attached foundation, all the work required would have been to prop up the Ark temporarily. On the other hand, it might not be far-fetched to suppose that Noah could have built a foundation (more like a system of scaffolding, perhaps) that may have been attached to the Ark and remained so to provide protection against crashing against boulders or mountain sides. If so, it would have meant more weight borne by the Ark and displacing more water; that is, the water line on the Ark would have gone higher as the Ark got heavier.
The advantage of such a foundation is twofold:
1. It would have provided more stability for the Ark. Since it was waterproofed in and out to prevent seepage of water, Noah felt confident that a heavy Ark was preferable.
2. There would have been reduced lateral movement due to wave and wind action as the portion of the Ark exposed over the water surface was reduced to a minimum.
Not so far-fetched, because with such cataclysmic forces at work – springs of waters bursting forth from the depths and wild torrents rushing from the mountains – the Ark would have been tossed to and fro in the turbulent waters by enormous waves and currents of a terrifying, global deluge.
To be spared from the wrath of a wild rampaging white water of a river, the best technique for a swimmer would be to float lying down with the head up, let go and be carried along with the current, facing downstream to allow the legs to maneuver and push against oncoming rocks. That pictures, perhaps, what happened to the Ark in the swirling chaos of the catastrophe. Any hobbling and bobbing on the surface would have broken the Ark instantaneously. (The Ark’s dimensions – a long and narrow shape like a stick on water – greatly prevented this tendency.) Its survival depended on it remaining afloat and breaking or dissipating those waves that tried to twist it and to dash it against rocks. The protruding scaffolds would have been a vital structural feature that provided protection. A head-on collision with an immovable mountain or onrushing debris like giant logs or even icebergs would have been instantaneously disastrous without such defensive design.
Perhaps, after it had risen high above the mountaintops and the waves quieted down, the Ark would have floated safely and peacefully. For as it is usually the case when reaching to the heights of success (or vindication as in Noah’s case), chaos and turbulence block the way.
But going up was just part of the Ark’s journey. Coming down was an even more difficult maneuver. When it landed on the mountains of Ararat, how did it manage to settle on level ground? Was there a wide plateau on top of a mountain at that time? Or did the Ark remain in one place all that time and merely settled down on the same spot? This would have been the safest and most obvious way to do it, if Noah were given the choice and had the means to do it. How could he have done it then?
Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.(2)
It appears that the maximum height of the flood was 15 cubits (7.9 m) above the highest peak. Is this really so? Could it be telling us that God had forewarned Noah that he could have designed and built the Ark on one of the plateaus of Mt. Ararat and let it float that height and kept it in place by using anchors? Why not? 15 cubits or about 26 feet plus the Ark’s height of 30 cubits (15.7 m) for a total of about 45 cubits (23.6 m or 77.4 feet) is not that long to be able to tie ropes to the Ark and anchor it to so many heavy rocks to prevent it from being pummeled around and dashed against the mountain.(3)
Such a system would have greatly reduced stresses on the Ark’s structure. But how did Noah know it was going to be so? It would have also meant that Mt. Ararat was the highest mountain at that time. But how could have Noah built the Ark on top of a mountain? Or perhaps, Mt. Ararat may not have had existed then but rather arose only after the Flood on the spot where Noah had built the Ark. A seemingly preposterous idea, until we realize what may have really happened during the Deluge.(4)
But there is another way of looking at the significance of the 15 cubits. Obviously, there would have been no way for Noah to know exactly how high above the mountain top the Ark rose, unless an angel measured it for him or whispered it to him! It seems more likely and more logical to suppose that the 15-cubit height refers to the highest mark that the water reached on the side of the Ark. Noah would have easily determined that himself after the flood. Barnacles and algae would have left clear marks on the Ark.
If so, with this number and the almost perfect box-shape of the Ark, we can readily compute the entire weight of the Ark and its load. We do this by computing the weight of water displaced by the Ark – that is, 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 15 cubits (converted to roughly 32,445 cubic meters). Hence, using the average density of seawater of 1.025 tons per cubic meter, the Ark (about 157 meters long or 60% the length of the Titanic) may have weighed roughly 33,256 tons (or 72% that of the Titanic). In comparison, the Titanic (260 meters long) had a gross tonnage of 46,328 tons. Though crudely built, the Ark was truly the unsinkable vessel! (See Fig. 3 for comparisons between the Ark and other famous vessels.)
But we have gotten ahead of our story. Noah still had a long way to go before he could reach what used to be the skies, riding God’s Ark. We merely wanted to show that in building the foundation, it might have been done in a way as to consider the effects of forces we have just described and how Noah may have designed the Ark to anticipate such dire scenarios.
Certainly, there will be a dozen other ways of approaching the story and imagining how it really happened. Interpreting the “15 cubits” either way (above the highest peak or up on the Ark’s side) does not change the essence of the story or the fact that the Flood did cover the Earth. Whether it did overtop the peaks by an inch or a mile is not essential, as 15 cubits, obviously, would have prevented any creature from escaping certain death. But for Moses to have derived such a minute detail which Noah must have had also knowledge of, means that that specific fact may lead us to consider its significance and certain possibilities within reasonable bounds.
This is the beauty of human thought. We can all share in the adventure called what-might-have-been in order to chart out what-could-be. Guided by reasonable requirements of scientific inquiry and keeping in sight historical and biblical evidences, we have the assurance that what we picture so far does not stray far from what is credible, thus avoiding so much needless argument.
Fig. 3 – The Ark and other Vessels
(1) From Reader’s Digest online.
(2) Gen 7:20.
(3) The idea of such anchors as having been used by Noah is presented in the book The Ark Uncovered by Henri Nissen.
(4) Chapter 14 and following chapters explain how certain geologic conditions may have been different during Noah’s time.
Box or Boat?
Go back to the source to get unfiltered, unbiased information.(1)
As we plod on through the story, we encounter so many relevant things that grab our attention. Disregarding them would mean losing some insight into what went on in the mind of the God and giving us a glimpse of what Moses may have thought and felt as he sat down to write the story.
Do we often picture the Bible writers as wide-eyed robots who automatically wrote down the Scriptures without pausing to ask themselves or God if what they wrote were exactly what they needed to write or if the way they said it was the best way to say it? This seems hardly the case. They were humans who “searched’ the truth through quiet reflection and deep contemplation as they listened to the Holy Spirit unfolding God’s mysteries. (Some of them received direct revelation from God through visions or dreams, of course.) They must have investigated the oral traditions and sought out the things that were consistent with those revealed truths. Solomon collected proverbs from the nations and learned from nature. Paul quoted poets and gloried in his struggles and triumphs as well as those of other disciples. Indeed, God had planted His truths in many places and in many forms even before He had the hard copy written.
Certainly, Moses and Solomon dealt with the problem of translating alien or ancient languages into that of their own. How difficult was it for them compared to us now? With all our advancement in linguistics and archeology, do we really think we are still left in the dark? Hardly.
In our effort to understand these writings then, we must go through the same process of seeking the truth without any fear that the filter of language will distort our view. Hence, through the same Spirit Who led Moses to record the story as it really happened, we are somehow able to derive a clear picture of the story.
The most basic and most intriguing question to ask in this story is: How did Noah know exactly what he needed to do in order for the Ark to remain afloat? If Thomas Edison made thousands of unsuccessful prototypes before perfecting the electric bulb, this is probably how Noah prepared for his own work:
When Noah was 10 years old, he loved to play by the banks of the Euphrates River which was not far from where he lived.
His father Lamech recognized Noah’s precocious character from among the many children of his age. He asked many questions and took extra effort to apply the knowledge he acquired. Hence, his curiosity especially about water and its many qualities and properties led him to spend much time building toys that floated.
Noah, with some help from his father, built a small box that allowed him to put various things in it. He tied a long string unto it and pulled it along the bank. Eventually, he learned to make bigger and more complex boxes that had decks, doors and even carried small animals and insects. Think of him pulling his scared, soaked puppy as it skid the shallow water in a wooden box. Splashing on the shallow water, he ran gleefully, unmindful of the harassed pet’s yipping. His joy at proving his contraption did not at all show in his poor, drenched and trembling dog.
Lamech already had an idea as to what his son would eventually do and he gladly guided him and provided him with the necessary tools to express his inventiveness. When Noah became a young man, he had graduated into making small vessels that could carry humans and ferry them across a lake safely. Apart from helping his father build houses, he spent much time “testing the waters” of the deep and for what they was capable of doing.
This was how Noah developed into a great builder and maritime inventor.
By now, Noah was beginning to put up the superstructure of the Ark, beginning from the very lowest beams to the topmost ones.
We might imagine Noah and his fellow-workers lifting a heavy timber with ropes hanging from a network of scaffolds, slowly guiding it manually to connect vertically one end unto the bottom hull. Overseeing the task, he silently prayed to God for guidance as he pictured in his mind how the entire Ark frame would end up looking. He had crude drawings done on clay tablets or wood panels, perhaps, but they were not that precise or detailed. He had to use words to relay what he wanted done: We will need ten large timbers to form a rectangular frame 50 cubits wide by 30 cubits high, starting from one end to the other end. Join them using wooden pegs and add cross timbers to form a strong single frame. (Fig. 4 – End View) We will make so many of these and connect them all together to form the entire skeletal framework of the Ark (Elevation View). (Or, perhaps, Noah had a scale model of the Ark!)
Fig. 4 – Basic Frame Design of Noah’s Ark
Each one of those frames would have taken them about a month or two to form from semi-smoothened cypress logs into finished frames interconnected to each another. All technical, we might say, but Noah imagined the thousands of animals that would be enclosed by those wooden frames and simply followed what could have been a divinely-inspired working plan he had tested. Through his unique spiritual gifts and wide experience as a builder, Noah was able to complete the whole design of the Ark according to such specifications. Hence, as work progressed, they could visualize how the Ark would look and function. For outsiders, what they saw was a jumble of timber and a vain pursuit of the ludicrous and the impossible.
We will notice that the Ark was nothing but a box – a rectangular solid figure like a shoe-box. No frills and no streamlining as so many artists and historians would like to suggest. As we said, the Ark was designed to simply stay afloat and not to navigate in any way. It simply needed to be amply strong and to float long enough with its payload of nature’s choicest survivors.
Noah, unlike modern builders who must determine the loading of structures even before designing, had no definite way of knowing the exact load the Ark was to carry. He simply knew he was going to have animals, food and water. Perhaps, that is where his experience as a builder came into play. How heavy could animals be compared to humans? That, he could have computed easily by assuming that the dimensions of the Ark given to him required him to fill up each deck with all possible kinds of animals. If he had followed what we thought he might have done (choosing only young animals), it would not have been too hard. Furthermore, if he had distributed the animals accordingly (heaviest at bottom deck and lightest at topmost deck), he would have constructed the decks differently to suit the amount of loading. Why build a deck that will carry fowls to be as strong as a deck that carries elephants and dinosaurs?
Or perhaps, Noah merely built the decks equally to carry the same maximum loading. That is, in engineering parlance, the Ark was over-designed. This is more plausible given that each deck would have to carry other loads such as water and food. Likewise, the decks, per se, would have acted to strengthen the entire skeletal framework of the Ark aside from serving as decks.
But why not the shape of a boat?
Some have suggested that with the streamlined boat design of a pointed prow and a rounded stern, it was possible for the Ark to ride it out through strong ocean currents and the wild waves. A very plausible view indeed and one worth considering.
However, such a view fails close scrutiny for two main reasons. One, God, in that case, should have said: Build a boat, Noah. Quite possibly, there were many small boats during Noah’s time. (Some may argue that boats then may have been simple boxes which would make the issue moot.) It would have been a more telling command than what was actually said. But, precisely, the fact that God asked Noah to build a box is telling us something. Remember our first principle: Scriptures were written by the first truly accurate chroniclers of real events and facts?
The second reason has something to do with what God was going to do many centuries later on. What then is God trying to tell us here?
Aside from tremendously simplifying the work, God wanted Noah to provide a visual anchor upon which Noah’s descendants would permanently picture God’s saving grace. Like the Passover which He instituted the Israelites to observe to remind them of their escape from Egypt, God wanted Israel – and all of humanity, for that matter – to have a visual and historical symbol of His saving grace.
The Jewish Ark of the Covenant would be used to rally God’s chosen people behind His consummate power to save them and to destroy all their enemies as long as they kept His commandments. What they saw being carried by their holy priests way above their heads as they traveled through the wilderness duplicated exactly what was happening to Noah’s Ark as it floated triumphantly over the deadly waters. Borne by priests at that triumphant moment of crossing the dried-up Jordan River (minus the visual effects of a flood which had previously obliterated Pharaoh’s army!), that event culminated its parallelism with Noah’s vessel overcoming the flood.
Can we imagine the golden cherubim with wings overshadowing the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant glistening in the sun, wobbling in time with the cadence of the priests as they bore the Ark and marched? Then we can also imagine Archangels Michael and Gabriel standing on top of Noah’s Ark in their glowing array as they stood guard over its occupants and provided God’s protection through the rushing waves and raging storms.
Moses’ diminutive Ark was not a boat-shaped container that seemed to gracefully slice the water in the imagination of the Hebrews. When they saw it, they also saw Noah’s Ark of old. They thought of the same God Who had saved Noah from the Flood and Who also saved them from Pharaoh. In their minds, they were one and the same Ark or Box designed by their One God. It was an awkward box that seemed to fly above the people’s heads because the wings of the two cherubim protected it and confirmed the presence of God’s mercy upon the people. In Noah’s case, the Ark itself was the literal symbol of God’s mercy upon all Creation.
A box then began to form in Noah’s village. Perhaps, if we think of it, it was not that laughable to look at for it did not look at all like Noah was building a boat. Today, people would think he was building a shopping mall! Some of Noah’s neighbors must have asked him what it was for. For Noah, it was more than a conversational piece. He told them of God’s warning against sin and the coming time of reckoning. If the people had obeyed, they would have helped Noah in his work. But there was a better thing they could all have done. What?
Imagine if two or three families believed Noah. It would not have been that difficult to take them in as extra passengers. But what if a whole village wanted to join? Easy. They could have built their own smaller Ark. Anybody could build a box. There were enough trees to do it. Noah would have helped them do it, too. They didn’t even have to bring in animals, only food. Perhaps, if they truly repented then God would have saved even more than a village. Noah’s example was the only way out for anyone.
Noah, then as now, was and is setting a pattern. His faith led him to prepare for the coming judgment. The only way to survive a flood was to build an Ark which was nothing but a big barge. Anybody could have done something similar to be saved. Yes, by believing and building a box.
The sad truth during Noah’s time was: Only eight souls were worthy (by faith) to survive in all of humanity. A box would save them. Today, that box we hope to re-construct in our minds according to heaven’s specifications and, hopefully, show us the way we can also survive through life’s supreme trials.
(1) Bren Zenkhauser & Aaron Sandoski, How the Wise Decide (Crown Business, NY, 2008), p. 9.
Story of the Stories
"Beautiful is that which one sees, more beautiful that which one knows, but by far the most beautiful is that which one is ignorant of."
-- Nicholas Steno, Bishop and Geologist (1638–86)
With the frame completed, Noah was ready to construct the decks inside the Ark. What did God say?
“Make a box. . . , lower, second, and third (stories) you shall make it.”
Most writers and historians believe that the Ark had three stories based on the passage above. It sounds as plain as a nursery rhyme after all. Or is it?
With so many animals on board, can you imagine how the Ark would have smelled after a day and even much later as it floated for more than 300 days? How did Noah prevent this problem?
In answering this question, we will debunk the common notion that the Ark had only three compartments; that is, the first, second and third decks, nothing more. Why?
Think about it.
How would Noah eliminate or minimize the odor emanating from thousands of creatures relieving themselves freely in the Ark?
Any engineer would say that the easiest way would be down, as latrines or toilets normally work. So, beneath the Ark must have been an enormous latrine or tank that collected all the filth produced by Noah’s company. To allow toxic gases to seep out, air passages must have been built all the way to the top and allowed to be blown away by the wind without allowing water to flow in. How? Easy, using bamboo or reed pipes, wooden chutes or even bronze pipes.
Was there a plausible alternative? Considering the available technology, none. Or perhaps, they had a way which we are not aware of.
We can only think of one that is clever yet dangerous. The methane may have been allowed to seep out through pipes from the gestation tank and allowed to burn slowly, thus providing the occupants with continuous supply of light and heat. But this would have produced carbon dioxide and toxic gases and suffocated all life inside the Ark unless they had a way of funneling them out of the vessel. The risk of explosion, however, prevents us from giving much weight to this option.
Are we right in assuming that Noah knew about natural gases and their flammability? Perhaps not. For sure, he knew how bad the septic smell was and he had to do something about it. In his lifetime, home-builders must have found a way to reduce its effects without having to go run outside the house every time they felt the urge. In the Ark, he had nowhere else to go, so he must have built something quite similar to what we have today.
Indoor plumbing is an ancient idea. Archaeologists have found evidence of toilets used 4,800 years ago in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland and in the Indus Valley of what is now Pakistan.(1) The Romans also used it. A Minoan king in Crete was said to have used a flushing toilet 2,000 years ago. Modern civilization only borrowed the Romans’ method in the 16th century. Perhaps, the Scots, Indians and Minoans had learned it from the ancient people like Noah. It would not have been improbable for people of Noah’s time to have learned how to funnel out the smell of human waste from their domicile. If not, then by necessity, Noah would have had to invent a method with all the knowledge and tools at his disposal. Necessity may be the mother of invention but God is the Father of everything. Commissioning a project that required the safety and health of the last remaining living beings on Earth required nothing less than what we may proudly claim to be the exclusive product of modern civilization – the septic tank!
Noah was not a caveman who lived under crude circumstances but a wealthy patriarch and builder who had means to innovate as well as to predict situations based on certain given realities. Having the vision of a Flood that would inundate all of nature, Noah must have pictured in his mind such scenarios that ordinary uninformed people would not have thought of at all. Hence, it would not have been surprising if he had experimented on how to dispose of human and animal waste inside the Ark.
Given the length of time the Ark was built, the disposal of waste would have taken but a few days, weeks or even months to solve for anyone with enough intelligence. We must conclude then that the only possible way available for Noah was build a tank with air vents leading all the way to the top. It was the most obvious solution to his stinking problem!
How big was the tank?
With 371 days(2) spent inside the Ark, we can approximate the amount of waste produced by a single occupant by using the average rate of human waste produced daily. For a 150-pound or 68-kilogram person, average excreta produced is 1.13 kgs or 1.8 liters each day(3). Beasts might eat much more than that; but considering that smaller animals consume much less, that would be acceptable as a conservative average. Multiplying that by 371 days, we get about 419 kgs or 6.16 times a person’s body weight. Noah, as a person then, produced about 6 times his own weight of waste during the time he stayed in the Ark – about one year. Yucky, but almost factual!
Applying that to all animals as a rough estimation of waste production, we can compute the total amount of waste produced by all the occupants of the Ark. This will, however, require determining the total mass of the living creatures in the Ark. How do we do this?
We assume that in each deck the volume of total space occupied by warm bodies is comparable to a chicken coop or a pig pen. Arbitrarily, we assume 10% is taken up. Since the total volume of space inside the Ark is 450,000 cubic cubits (or, roughly 2,289,802 cubic feet or 64,890 cubic meters), we get 6,489 cubic meters occupied by warm bodies.
Assuming a density of human and animal body equivalent to that of water (1 ton/cu m), we derive a total weight of 6,489 tons or, for our purposes, 6,400 tons. Multiplying that by 6, the amount of total waste is about 38,934 tons after 371 days. Expressing that in terms of cubic dimensions of the Ark, that amounts to a volume with the approximate dimensions of: 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 17.8 cubits. (Also assuming the waste almost floats in water!) Almost two-thirds of the entire available space in the Ark! The Ark would not have had enough space for animals left based on our assumption. (We did the computation simply to illustrate.)
By reducing our assumed amount to a very conservative space occupied by warm bodies (say 2%) to take into consideration the volume of the Ark itself, the negligible sizes of such creatures as insects, birds and other crawling creatures and assuming that Noah might have eaten and fed his company so much mushroom (the only viable renewable and fresh source of nutrients inside the Ark and which is digested almost fully, thus leaving almost no waste), we come up with a tank height of about 6.2 feet or 1.9 meters.
Question: Could this not have been distributed equally to each deck and have taken the form of compartments where waste was shoveled in and covered? This would have been very possible but certainly entailed tedious time.
In addition, the construction of a tank separate from the three decks would have prevented the following:
1. Build-up of methane inside the Ark and suffocating its occupants.
2. With the obvious fact that Noah and his family kept oil lamps burning continuously, the build-up of methane would have been disastrous. The tank prevented fire.
3. The discomfort alone of smelling the waste of animals left undisposed of would have been so atrocious to both humans and animals alike.
4. Unhygienic conditions on the decks would have caused disease to spread rapidly.
5. Keeping waste storage bins on each deck would have resulted in much difficulty because of the need to use much water for washing which in turn would have to be eliminated somehow somewhere.
A wastewater-and-solid-waste tank was the only simple, plausible and acceptable solution to Noah’s real predicament.
We will deal with the collection and use of water later; but we must consider something else.
We need to validate the necessity of a gestation or septic tank in the absence of a direct declaration from God with respect to it. God had told Noah to “make a box”. (The Hebrew word used for “make”, ‘asah, also means bestow or furnish.) We presume God referred to a closed box as it was for the purpose of saving humans and animals from the rains and the flood. Otherwise, He should have said “make an open box” instead. Therefore, in saying “lower, second and third you shall make (again, ‘asah) it” (note: the word story was never used), we take it to mean “furnish” or “build into it” three levels. That is, you start with a closed box and then, inside it, install three floors or decks. You end up with four enclosed spaces with the space at the bottom not for cargo use but for a special purpose, so special nobody cares to think about it now.
This may not be the only interpretation of the command but based on an objective, logical and scientific analysis, a waste storage tank was vital for the proper operation of the Ark as a life-containing and life-preserving vessel. To imagine it without the tank would make the story a true myth or a fairy tale.
It might interest many to know that the Jewish historian Josephus believed that the Ark had four compartments. Thus, God had supposedly told Noah to make “an ark of four stories high, three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high.”(4) How did he come up with this? Was it an erroneous assumption or a commonly-accepted fact during his time? Did he, perhaps, obtain this fact from the Apostles’ disciples themselves who in turn got it from the Prime Source Himself – Christ?
Additional point to consider: Putting live load (moving things or living animals) on the lowest deck (the bottom hull) would have exposed it to greater stresses than necessary. A dead load (static or immobile load) in the form of solid waste in a tank which doubled as ballast ensured that the integrity of the hull remained intact. Wastewater, of course, was another matter as it would have shifted in all directions, even moving the solid waste and posing great danger. What to do?
We can only surmise that Noah must have divided the tank into three or more compartments to serve the various areas in the three decks. That is, he could have built two or three compartments near the middle to serve the bigger animals and assigned the outer compartments to other animals. Or he could have interspersed them. Keeping the expected greater weight of waste near the center of gravity would have minimized the Ark’s movements to and fro as well as sideways. Furthermore, the compartments must not have been totally enclosed but only walled in to a certain height to allow water to move from one compartment to another when the halfway mark or so was reached. (Fig. 2) By then, any shifting of weight would have been negligible.
Perhaps, Noah did make a small model of the Ark to observe how it behaved on water. No so farfetched. As we said, he probably had enough experience with floating toys as a little boy. In the 120 years the Ark was built, Noah could have easily spent at least one or two years simply testing out scale models until he perfected its design. Cutting down tall cypress trees must have taken much longer than that, giving him sufficient time to do such experiments.
The first gigantic floating vessel ever built was obviously not an accidental success but a well-thought-out structure commissioned by God and implemented by a well-qualified builder. Its very purpose alone necessitated basic design requirements that any modern person, builder or not, can appreciate. Noah, in short, knew what he was doing. The fact that we exist now is enough proof that he did.
(1) “Toilet,” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003, © 1993-2002, Microsoft Corporation.
(2) Gen 7:11-13. (On his 600th year, on the 2nd month, the 17th day of the month, Noah entered the Ark. Gen. 8:13-16. On his 601st year, on the 2nd month, on the 27th day of the month, the Earth was dried and Noah left the Ark. Since each month then had exactly 30 days, that adds up to 371 days. Please see Appendix C for a detailed Flood Time-line and Calendar.)
(4) Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 2 (Highlighting provided).
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
When you are famous, a lot of people talk about you. When you die, more people, I guess, talk about you. Even your enemies have something to say. Well, I am neither an enemy nor a friend of the late MJ; although I was a fan before I became a big critic, like some of my friends are.
One becomes a fan because a star needs ample supply of Hydrogen to remain shining. In my case, I produced enough Carbon Dioxide (and perspiration) singing MJ's earlier hits -- "You and I must make a pact!" (sung in the highest male soprano ever heard). Likewise, I made enough H2O crying, just listening to that Free Willy Theme Song and, the hands-down-winner, "She's Out of My Life".
I don't remember buying any of MJ's albums but I listened to him often and did constantly try to fathom how he came up with such haunting and touching melodies. In much the same way that I am in awe of how the Beatles came up with their million-dollar-making hits. (Even MJ fell victim to the money-generating potential of the group's songs that he found a way to own the rights. Much to Paul's great consternation.) Magical is the word for it. Talent is cheap but heart and soul are rarer than warm nights in Baguio City.
How MJ lived and used his fortunes are entirely different things. Many of those passionate or sensitive artists do not have a complete comprehension of the great opportunities given to them to bless the world in ways that no ordinary person could ever hope to achieve. Perhaps, many of them build for themselves monument-traps in the hope that their fame and wealth can live on beyond them. We have pyramids and mummies, palaces, Boracay mansions and Neverlands to prove that point.
But blessing your family with your righteous life, like many Filipinos are doing, is no less admirable and lasting in value. Investing in ýour own spirit's welfare and its eternal destiny (instead of your body's desires and its temporal nature) is like planting a mango tree when you are 70 or 80 years old. You may not live to see its fruits but your children and their children will. Your living legacy will bless many people to come.
MJ may have missed his childhood but he had plenty of opportunities to make up for it. Until he died, he was hooked on Disney. Honestly, I admit to not being able to outgrow Disney's Fantasia and Jungle Book because watching them brings back feelings and sensations of my youth (as opposed to trying to regain your youth physically or medically) and making you feel fresh again. (Watching them especially with our preschool students adds a higher level of joy and wonderment because of their ability to absorb new life with their innocence. Today, we watch Transformers and grow old and deaf because of the crashing noise.)
Growing up can be tough for many of us; but it doesn't mean when you are mature or very old that you can't be young again.
Only recently did I realize that high school and college reunions have become our Neverland where we try to live our past in the present. There, we remain eternally young. Or naughty. Or in love. Or in anguish. Whichever way we still envision our youth, we carry with us to our fantasy meetings. I guess, that is why we also look at one another with eyes of youth. A friend has not changed her hair style. Your crush has remained beautiful. And I still have almost the same weight I had in high school. Some things don't change and, oftentimes, so with our outlook. Or with our overall character which we actually acquired and developed early in childhood.
Of course, we can always take our passions to extremes. We can become slaves to things upon which others put no value whatsoever. Do we go to Neverland or Disneyland to feel young again, to be different from what we are or to experience how others see the world? Perhaps, we have other reasons. Our genuine maturity, however, is measured by the real wealth we treasure in our hearts -- love, joy, peace and all that jazz.
It is in coming out of youth that we finally realize we have remained young and that it is the world that has become old. Why should we let the world dictate that we are old and fading when the spirit in us has not grown old at all? It is in leaving Fantasy Land that we come to know that Paradise -- where we'll never grow old -- is real and is waiting for us. Better to give up our fantasies -- the things that are unreal -- and to deal with reality.
In the end, youth is an everlasting reality that escapes us because we believe it is as transient as the flowers glorying in the sunshine. It is not a phase, a season, a feeling or a state of mind. Youth, in essence, is the human spirit's ultimate discovery of the value of the present. It is the awareness that this very moment is tied to the past and the future within its own domain. Hence, there is no past or future, no other time but ETERNITY in the NOW.
(Photo above: Misha Raymer, lovely daughter of my friends, Matt and Arsie, loved to hear invented bedtime stories with her brother Sean when they were younger. I had so much fun listening to their own crazy and funny made-up stories. Today, she reads books before going to sleep. Or, as I tease her, she sleeps while she reads a book.)