How long did it take to Build Noah's Ark? Less than 75 years!

The Search for Noah's Ark                                           

The Bible is God's key that unlocks world history.



1.      Most Christians and preachers wrongly believe that Noah took 120 years to build the ark based upon a flawed and sloppy reading of Genesis 6:3. (“Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”)

2.      A simple study of the Bible text shows that the time from when God told Noah to build the ark, till the rain fell was no longer than about 75 years.

3.      The ark was as large as a modern ocean tanker:

a.      When we imagine the Ark, we think of a small 30 foot Tug boat shaped vessel with a giraffe sticking his head through the roof, when in fact, Noah’s Ark was 450 feet long!

b.      There was so much room on the ark that every species of animal and insect could fit on the ark and Noah had the upper deck for himself. This deck was likely used for food: Genesis 6:21

4.      The construction of Noah's ark should not surprise us since the pre-flood world was sophisticated in that they had musical instruments and knew how to smelter iron.


A. Noah took less than 75 years, not 120 years to build the ark.

1.      Noah took less than 80 years, not 120 years, to build the ark. We can prove this because the text says that Noah conceived his three sons when he was 500, and was six hundred years old when he entered the ark. Now the clincher is that when the command Noah to build the ark, God included his living sons AND their wives!

a.      “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood … “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark-you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Genesis 6:14,18)

b.      Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Genesis 5:32)

2.      Chronologically, the mention of Noah becoming the father of three sons precedes the narrative of the corruption that filled the earth and therefore the flood.

a.      Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:10–11)

3.       The passage that is commonly used to perpetuate the myth that it took 120 years to build the ark is Gen 6:3.

a.      Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”” (Genesis 6:3)

b.      However, Gen 6:3 most naturally is interpreted as a limiting of the life span of mankind, not the “period of grace” that Noah preached to the doomed world as many have traditionally assumed. The passage is controversial and several phrases in the Hebrew are dubious as to their exact meaning. Given the above information, much of the controversy surrounding the meaning of Gen 6:3 is removed in favour of the natural, contextual interpretation that before the flood, men lived to 1000 years and after there would be a gradual reduction to a cap of 120 years we see today. Instead of seeing this decree of reduction of lifespan to be instant and contradicted by Patriarchs who lived longer than 120 years, it is best to see the reduction in life span as a consequence of conditions after the flood. Today and since the time of David, the 120 year cap on age is rather firm.

4.      So if Noah’s three sons and their wives were alive when God commanded Noah to build the ark, the practical length of time it took Noah to build the ark was 502 years old when Shem was conceived, and given the probability he was the firstborn (unknown), and his two brothers were born, they all grew up to age 20, married etc, would calculate to the following:

a.      Shem born:  502 years old

b.      Two brothers born: 4 years

c.       Youngest grows up to age 20 to marry: 20 years

d.      Age of Noah the day his youngest son got married at age 20: 526 years old

e.      Noah was 600 when he entered the ark.

f.        600-526= 74 years maximum time to build the ark and that doesn’t account for the time it took for the honeymoon of the youngest!

5.      The concept that Noah preached at all to the doomed world is correctly based upon: “and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;” (2 Peter 2:5)

6.      We really don’t know for sure how long it took Noah to build the Ark. Anywhere from 10 – 74 years is possible.

B. Timing and Chronology of Noah’s flood.

1.      Noah is commanded to enter the ark because the rain will start in 7 days. Most see Noah sitting in the Ark on a chair waiting the seven days, when in fact this was the cue to load the animals. Noah was busy fitting animals into the “nests” (Heb: qen)

2.      God says that He would send rain for 40 days.

a.      The significance of 40 is a puzzle, for we know it continued to rain right up to day 150:

                                                              i.      Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained;” (Genesis 8:2)

b.      Although it appears that it took 40 days to extinguish all life on earth, this is not the case. It was at day 40 that the ark began to float, and since the mountains are still higher than the ark, this would provide high ground for both man and beast until about day 150. However, it may be that it was death by starvation as much as by drowning. It appears that on day 40 all life had been extinguished. Further, the narrative seems to show that only after the mountains were covered with water that all life died.

                                                              i.      The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.” (Genesis 7:19–24)

c.       The ark began to float on day forty.

d.      On day 40 the ark started to float. This is very natural considering the rain and fountains of the ocean took time to fill in all the area that was below the point where the ark had been built.

3.      At day 150 the highest water level was reached and after that the water began to drain into the Earth.

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C. Noah took food aboard the Ark for himself and the animals.

1.      The upper deck is likely where Noah stored the food for himself and the animals.

a.      As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.”” (Genesis 6:21)

2.      It is not clear if the food is to be eaten while they are on the ark, or if it is a supply of plants immediately consumable after the flood.

3.      Since they were in the Ark for more than a year, the types of food collected would need to reflect this time in their choices and selection, perhaps seeds, grains, dried plants etc.

Where there three or four decks in the ark?

1.      “You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.” (Genesis 6:16)

2.      Most envision the ark as a boat with three decks where, “lower” is the bottom deck, second is the middle deck above the “lower” and a second deck as the top deck.

3.      But if you count from the top down you get four decks: The main deck with three lower decks: “lower” is the second deck and implies a main deck. So a reading would be you will build a m ain deck with first lower, second lower and third lower decks, for a total of four decks.

4.      Since the ark was built from the bottom up, it is likely that the ark had only three decks.

D. Insects were in the ark

1.      Since insects were aboard, that means when you looked up at the 3 deck ceilings and all the walls, they were covered in a carpet of insects.

2.      “Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20)

God brought the animals:

1.      The Bible clearly states that the animals came to Noah, likely through the direction of God

a.      “two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20)

2.      The idea that Noah had to travel the world to collect the animals is false.

3.      God brought the animals to Noah and they waited to board the ark.

4.      Before the flood, animals had no fear of man because man was a vegetarian.

a.      The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:2–4)

E. The ark had “nests” (Heb: qen)

1.      God commanded Noah to build the ark with “nests”.

a.      “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms [qen], and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.” (Genesis 6:14)

2.      The Hebrew word used is “qen” with always refers to bird’s nests throughout the Old Testament.

3.      Here, it is used in a general way, correctly translated, rooms, compartments, cages, nests.



1.      Noah's Ark was constructed less than 75 years after Noah was told by God to build the ark.

2.      The actual time it took Noah to construct the Ark may have been much less.

3.      An educated guess as to the actual time it took to build the ark would be somewhere between 40 - 70 years.

4.      Noah's Ark is an historical warning that just as God destroyed the sinful world with water, He will once again destroy the heavens and Earth with fire at the second coming of Christ.


By Steve Rudd

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