And this is the fashion which you shall make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Cubits.—The cubit is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. As, further, it was regarded as one-fourth of a man’s height, we may safely compute it at eighteen inches, except where the sacred or longer cubit is expressly mentioned. Thus the ark was 450 feet long, 75 broad, and 45 in depth. The Great Eastern is much larger, being: 680 feet in length. However simple her construction, there would be great difficulty in building so large a vessel, from the danger of her breaking her back, especially in the tempestuous weather which followed.Genesis 8:13. If, however, it was in the sides of the ark, the cubit was merely its height. It was then finished with a strong railing, which went round the whole ark, and over which the covering, above mentioned, hung down on every side. The door was in the side, and the stories were three. In each were of course many "nests" or chambers, for animals and stores. It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. Only the animals necessary to man, or unusual to the region covered by the deluge, required to be included in the ark. It seems likely that wild animals in general were not included. It is obvious, therefore, that we cannot calculate the number of animals preserved in the ark, or compare the space they would require with its recorded dimensions. We may rest assured that there was accommodation for all that needed to be there.This is the fashion, or, this is the measure, or the manner according to
which thou shalt make it; and it was a just and regular proportion, the length being six times more than the breadth, and ten times more than the height. There is no need to understand this of geometrical cubits, which are said to have contained nine ordinary cubits; nor of sacred cubits, which were a hand’s breadth longer than the ordinary, Ezekiel 43:13; nor to suppose the stature of men at that time to have been generally larger, and consequently their cubit much longer. For the ordinary cubit consisting of a common foot and a half, is sufficient for the containing of all the kinds of living creatures and their provisions, which was to be put into the ark, as hath been at large demonstrated by learned men. Nor is there any considerable difficulty in the point, but what is made by the ignorance of infidels, and aggravated by their malice against the Holy Scriptures; especially if these things be considered:
1. That the differing kinds of beasts and birds, which unlearned men fancy to be innumerable, are observed by the learned, who have particularly searched into them, and written of them, to be little above three hundred, whereof the far greatest part are but small; and many of these which now are thought to differ in kind, in their first original were but of one sort, though now they be so greatly altered in their shape and qualifies, which might easily arise from the diversity of their climate and food, and other circumstances, and from the promiscuous conjunctions of those lawless creatures.
2. That the brute creatures, when they were enclosed in the ark, where they were idle, and constantly under a kind of horror and amazement, would be contented with far less provisions, and those of another sort than they were accustomed to, and such as might lie in less room, as hay, and the fruits of the earth. God also, who altered their natures, and made the savage creatures mild and gentle, might by the same powerful providence moderate their appetites, or, if he pleased, have increased their provision whilst they did eat it, as afterwards Christ did by the loaves. So vain and idle are the cavils of wanton wits concerning the incapacity of the ark for the food of so many beasts.
3. That supposing the ravenous creatures did feed upon flesh, here is also space enough and to spare for a sufficient number of sheep, for their food for a whole year, as upon computation will easily appear; there being not two thousand sheep necessary for them, and the ark containing no less than four hundred and fifty thousand cubits in it. But of this matter more may be seen in my Latin Synopsis.
the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits; which some interpret of geometrical cubits, each of which contained six ordinary cubits; others of sacred cubits, which were larger by an hand's breadth than the common cubit; but the general opinion of learned men now is, that they were common cubits of eighteen inches long; and by the geometrical calculations made by them it is found, that the ark of such dimensions was abundantly sufficient to contain Noah, and his family, and the various creatures, and all necessary provisions for them (q). But if the Jewish and Egyptian cubit, the cubit of the Scriptures, as Dr. Cumberland (r) has shown it to be, consisted of twenty one inches and upwards, the ark according to them must be very near twice as great, and so more convenient for all the ends to which it was designed; for, as he observes, the cube of such a cubit is very near double to the cube of eighteen inches, and therefore so must the capacity be. (Noah's Ark was the largest sea-going vessel ever built, until, the late nineteenth century when giant metal ships were first constructed. The Ark was approximately 450 feet by seventy five feet; but as late as 1858"the largest vessel of her type in the world was the P&O liner, "Himalaya", 240 feet by thirty five feet...''In that year, Isambard K. Brunel produced the "Great Eastern", 692 feet by 83 feet by 30 feet of approximately 19000 tons ... five times the tonnage of any ship then afloat. So vast was Brunel's leap that even forty years later in an age of fierce competition the largest liners being built were still smaller than the "Great Eastern" ... (s). Editor.)
(q) Vid. Buteonem de Area Noe, Hostum in fabricam Areae Noc, & Poli Synopsin. Scheuchzer, ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 1.) pp. 37, 38. (r) Of Scripture Weights and Measures, ch. 2. p. 56, 57. (s) The World that Perished, John C. Witcomb, published by Baker Book House, 1988, p. 22.And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. The dimensions of the ark, as here given, are somewhat smaller than in the Assyrian account. Assuming that a cubit measured 1½ feet, the ark was 450 ft. long, 75 ft. broad, and 45 ft. high. It will be noticed that the breadth is exactly one-sixth, and the height exactly one-tenth, of the length. In the Assyrian account we miss these proportions. The length is not given, but the height and breadth are the same, viz. 120 cubits, or 180 ft., broad and high. Berossus, the Greek writer of Babylonian traditions, records that the ship of the Flood was 5 stadia (about ⅔ of a mile) long, and 2 stadia (about ¼ mile) broad.Verse 15. - And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of. The shape of it is not described, but only its dimensions given. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, - a cubit = the length from the elbow to the middle finger (Deuteronomy 3:11); nearly twenty-two inches, if the sacred cubit; if the common, eighteen inches, - the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. With a cubit of twenty-one inches, the length would he 525 feet, the breadth 87 feet 6 inches, dimensions not dissimilar to those of the Great Eastern which is 680 feet long, 83 feet broad, and 58 feet deep. The cubic contents of the ark with these dimensions would be 2,411,718'75 feet, which, allowing forty cubic feet per ton, would give a carrying capacity equal to 32,800 tons. P. Jansen of Holland, in 1609, proved by actual experiment that a ship constructed after the pattern of the ark, though not adapted for sailing, would in reality carry a cargo greater by one-third than any other form of like cubical content. The difficulty of building a vessel of such enormous magnitude, T. Lewis thinks, may be got over by remembering the extreme simplicity of its structure, the length of time allowed for its erection, the physical constitution of the builders, and the facilities for obtaining materials which may have existed in abundance in their vicinity. Bishop Wilkins ('Essay towards a Philosophical Character and Language'), Dr. A. Clarke, and Bush are satisfied that the ark was large enough to contain all the animals directed to be taken into it, along with provision for a twelvemonth; but computations founded on the number of the species presently existing must of necessity be precarious; and besides, it is at least doubtful whether the Deluge was universal, or only partial and local, in which case the difficulty (so called) completely vanishes. Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5, where it is applied to the ark in which Moses was placed, is probably an Egyptian word: the lxx render it κίβωτος here, and θίβη in Exodus; the Vulgate arca, from which our word ark is derived. Gopher-wood (ligna bituminata; Jerome) is most likely cypress. The ἁπ. λεγ. gopher is related to כּפר, resin, and κυπάρισσος; it is no proof to the contrary that in later Hebrew the cypress is called berosh, for gopher belongs to the pre-Hebraic times. The ark was to be made cells, i.e., divided into cells, קנּים (lit., nests, niduli, mansiunculae), and pitched (כּפר denom. from כּפר) within and without with copher, or asphalte (lxx ἄσφαλτος, Vulg. bitumen). On the supposition, which is a very probable one, that the ark was built in the form not of a ship, but of a chest, with flat bottom, like a floating house, as it was not meant for sailing, but merely to float upon the water, the dimensions, 300 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high, give a superficial area of 15,000 square cubits, and a cubic measurement of 450,000 cubits, probably to the ordinary standard, "after the elbow of a man" (Deuteronomy 3:11), i.e., measured from the elbow to the end of the middle finger.
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