HOME | MAIL LIST| | GUEST BOOK|

  Discoveries of archaeology verified the reliability of the Bible

 

Reliability of the Bible - In what ways have archaeological discoveries verified it?

 

Over the years there have been many criticisms leveled against the Bible concerning its historical reliability. These criticisms are usually based on a lack of evidence from outside sources to confirm the Biblical record. Since the Bible is a religious book, many scholars take the position that it is biased and cannot be trusted unless we have corroborating evidence from extra-Biblical sources. In other words, the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, and a lack of outside evidence places the Biblical account in doubt.

This standard is far different from that applied to other ancient documents, even though many, if not most, have a religious element. They are considered to be accurate, unless there is evidence to show that they are not. Although it is not possible to verify every incident in the Bible, the discoveries of archaeology since the mid 1800s have demonstrated the reliability and plausibility of the Bible narrative. Here are some examples.

Confirmation of Biblical events - Is there any from written sources outside the Bible?

The most documented Biblical event is the world-wide flood described in Genesis 6-9. A number of Babylonian documents have been discovered which describe the same flood.

The Sumerian King List, for example, lists kings who reigned for long periods of time. Then a great flood came. Following the flood, Sumerian kings ruled for much shorter periods of time. This is the same pattern found in the Bible. Men had long life spans before the flood and shorter life spans after the flood. The 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic speaks of an ark, animals taken on the ark, birds sent out during the course of the flood, the ark landing on a mountain, and a sacrifice offered after the ark landed.

The Story of Adapa tells of a test for immortality involving food, similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Sumerian tablets record the confusion of language as we have in the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel(Genesis 11:1-9). There was a golden age when all mankind spoke the same language. Speech was then confused by  God, lord of wisdom. The Babylonians had a similar account in which the gods destroyed a temple tower and "scattered them abroad and made strange their speech."

Other examples of extra-Biblical confirmation of Biblical events:

 

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUMERIAN KING LIST -- There are more than 16 fragments and one nearly complete copy of the Sumerian King List found at different places at different times. The first fragment was discovered in the temple library at Nippur, Iraq, at the turn of the century and was published in 1906. The most complete copy, the Weld-Blundell prism, was purchased on the antiquities market shortly after World War I and is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. For a thorough discussion of the Sumerian King List and its Biblical implications, see "The Antediluvian Patriarchs and the Sumerian King List," by Raul Lopez, in the CEN Technical Journal 12 (3) 1998, pp. 347-57.

Burial Sites - Have the graves of any people in the Bible been found?




Palm Sunday pilgrims

Palm Sunday pilgrims inside Holy Sepulchre Church

Throughout Bible lands there are numerous "traditional" tombs of various Biblical personages, sometimes several for one individual! In many cases, there is no historical or archaeological evidence to back up the identification. There are, however, at least seven instances where there is strong, if not certain, evidence for locating the burial site of a person, or persons, named in the Bible.

Jesus Christ

Holy Sepulchre Church, Israel. Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved.

Holy Sepulchre Church, Jerusalem

In Jerusalem today, there are two sites claiming to be the location of the tomb of Jesus: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb was identified as the tomb of Jesus only in the late 1800s and lacks historical credibility. A long tradition going back to the first century, however, maintains that Jesus' tomb is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the 4th century, Constantine supposedly located the tomb site beneath a second century Roman temple. He constructed a church over it. This church has been restored and maintained over the centuries ever since. It is today shared by six faiths: Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Syrian, Copts and Ethiopians.

Caiaphas the High Priest

Ossuary of Caiaphas the High Priest.  Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved.

Ossuary of Caiaphas the High Priest

Caiaphas was high priest for 18 years, A.D. 18-36. He most likely gained the position by marrying the daughter of Annas, head of a powerful high-priestly clan (John 18:13). Caiaphas is infamous as the leader of the conspiracy to crucify Jesus.

At a meeting of the religious leaders, Caiaphas said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than the whole nation perish" (John 11:50). He was referring to the possible intervention of the Roman authorities, if Jesus' teaching should cause unrest. His words were prophetic in that Jesus did die for the people, all the people of the earth, as a sacrifice for sin.

 

After He was arrested, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas' house and detained overnight. The guards mocked and beat Him (Luke 22:63-65). In the morning He was interrogated and further beaten. Caiaphas asked Him, "Are you the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," Jesus replied (Mark 14:61-62). Caiaphas then handed Jesus over to Pilate to be tried.

Following Jesus' crucifixion, Caiaphas continued to persecute the early church. He brought the apostles before the religious leaders and said to them, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's (Jesus') blood." Peter and the other apostles replied, "We must obey God rather then men" (Acts 5:28-29).

The Caiaphas family tomb was accidentally discovered by workers constructing a road in a park just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Archaeologists were hastily called to the scene. When they examined the tomb they found 12 ossuaries (limestone bone boxes) containing the remains of 63 individuals. The most beautifully decorated of the ossuaries was inscribed with the name "Joseph son of (or, of the family of) Caiaphas." That was the full name of the high priest who arrested Jesus, as documented by Josephus (Antiquities 18: 2, 2; 4, 3). Inside were the remains of a 60-year-old male, almost certainly those of the Caiaphas of the New Testament. This remarkable discovery has, for the first time, provided us with the physical remains of an individual named in the Bible.

Caesar Augustus

A great politician and administrator, Augustus ruled the Roman empire from 27 B.C.-A.D. 14. It was Augustus who issued the census decree that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7). Augustus erected for himself a grand mausoleum in Rome, on the east bank of the Tiber River, one quarter mile northwest of the Roman Forum. The remains exist today in the middle of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore.

It was 285 feet in diameter and 143 feet high, surmounted by a statue of the emperor. His ashes were placed in an urn in the center, while those of other members of the dynasty were place in urns in a corridor around a central cylinder. Although some of the urns were found in place by excavators, the ashes had long since disappeared.


Tomb of the Patriarchs

Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved.

The Bible says that Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Jacob were buried in Hebron, in a cave called the Cave of Machpelah, purchased by Abraham (Gen. 23).

Traditionally, this cave has been located below the Haram el-Khalil ("sacred precinct of the friend of the merciful One, God") in Hebron, today a Muslim mosque. References as early as the Hellenistic period (2nd century B.C.) testify that this is the authentic location of the burial place of the Patriarchs. The cave was explored by the Augustine Canons in 1119, at which time they claim to have found the bones of the Patriarchs.

Tombs of David and Solomon

Tunnel Tombs. Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved.
Tunnel tumbs

Throughout the kingdom period, the kings of Judah were buried within the city of David. At the southern end of the City of David, south of the Old City of Jerusalem, there are two monumental tunnel tombs which many scholars believe are the tombs of David and Solomon. Unfortunately, they were damaged by later quarrying, so no identifying inscriptions have survived. In the same area are many Iron Age tombs, possibly those of other kings of Judah.

One exception to the normal custom was the burial of Uzziah. Since he was a leper, he was not buried with the other kings, but "near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, 'he had leprosy'" (2 Chr 26:23).

Interestingly, an inscription was found on the Mount of Olives in 1931 dating to the first century A.D. which reads, "Here were brought the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah do not open." Evidently, because of his leprosy, Uzziah's bones were removed from the field belonging to the kings and transferred to yet a more remote location.

Cyrus the Great

Cyrus ruled the Persian empire from 559-530 B.C. He is best known for his capture of Babylon in 539 B.C. Already in the 8th century B.C. Isaiah predicted this defeat (Isaiah 45:1-3), and went on to say that Cyrus would "set my exiles free' (Isaiah 45:13). That Cyrus released the Jewish exiles from Babylon is not only documented in the Bible (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-4), but also implied in the contemporary Cyrus Cylinder. This ancient record states, "I (Cyrus) gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations."

Tomb of Cyrus. Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved.

Cyrus was buried in a simple gabled stone tomb outside his capital of Pasargadae in modern Iran. According to the historian Strabo, this inscription once graced the structure, "Oh man, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument" (Geography xv.3.7).

Darius-I the Great

Darius I was king of the Persian empire from 522-486 B.C. He gave permission to renew the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 6:1-12), which had been discontinued for some 10 years.

His is the first of three monumental tombs cut into a cliff near the Persian capital of Persepolis, Iran. The inscription on his tomb reads,

King Darius states: King, whoever you are, who may arise after me, protect yourself well from lies. Do not trust the man who lies. Believe what I did and tell the truth to the people. Do not conceal (it). If you do not conceal these matters, but you do tell the people, may Ahura Mayda protect you.

There are three other tombs at the site, thought to be those of the Persian kings Xerxes (485-465 B.C.), Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.), and Darius II (423-405 B.C.). There are no accompanying inscriptions, however, to be certain of these identifications. Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, the king whom Esther married. Ezra was a scribe (Ezra 7:6) and Nehemiah a cupbearer (Nehemiah 2:1) under Artaxerxes I. He authorized both Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem, Ezra to carry out religious and judicial duties (Ezra 7:12-26), and Nehemiah to rebuild the city walls (Nehemiah 2:1-9). Darius II may be the Darius mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, but this is not certain.

likenesses been found of persons named in the Bible

Many of the people mentioned in the Bible are confirmed in sources outside the Bible. In the case of royalty, many times a likeness of the individual has been recovered. Over 50 persons named in the Old Testament are known outside the Bible, and we have likenesses of 12 of them. Some 27 people named in the New Testament are known from other records, with six likenesses surviving (four of them Roman emperors).

Based on current knowledge of Biblical and Egyptian chronology, the best candidate for the pharaoh of the Exodus is Tuthmosis III, who ruled 1504-1450 B.C. We have many records from his reign.

Likenesses have also been found of these Biblical figures:

 

Man-made structures mentioned in the bible - Have archaeologists found any?

Yes, quite a number of Biblical structures have been excavated. Some of the most interesting are the following:

Base of Tower of Babel
The base of the Tower of Babel in Babylon where language was confused (Genesis 11:1-9).

Theater at Ephesus, Turkey
The theater at Ephesus, Turkey.

Old Testament
New Testament

  The palace at Jericho where Eglon, king of Moab, was assassinated by Ehud (Judges 3:15-30).

  The east gate of Shechem where Gaal and Zebul watched the forces of Abimelech approach the city (Judges 9:34-38).

  The Temple of Baal/El-Berith in Shechem, where funds were obtained to finance Abimelech's kingship and where the citizens of Shechem took refuge when Abimelech attacked the city (Judges 9:4, 46-49).

Pool at Gibeon  The pool of Gibeon where the forces of David and Ishbosheth fought during the struggle for the kingship of Israel (2 Samuel 2:12-32).

  The Pool of Heshbon, likened to the eyes of the Shulammite woman (Song of Songs 7:4).

  The royal palace at Samaria where the kings of Israel lived (1 Kings 20:43; 21:1, 2; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:2; 15:25).

  The Pool of Samaria where King Ahab's chariot was washed after his death (1 Kings 22:29-38).

  The water tunnel beneath Jerusalem dug by King Hezekiah to provide water during the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30).

  The royal palace in Babylon where King Belshazzar held the feast and Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5).

  The royal palace in Susa where Esther was queen of the Persian king Xerxes (Esther 1:2; 2:3, 5, 9, 16).

  The royal gate at Susa where Mordecai, Esther's cousin, sat (Esther 2:19, 21; 3:2, 3; 4:2; 5:9, 13; 6:10, 12).

  The Square in front of the royal gate at Susa where Mordecai met with Halthach, Xerxes' eunuch (Esther 4:6).

  The foundation of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 1:21-28) and delivered the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:25-59).

  The house of Peter at Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others (Matthew 8:14-16).

  Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman (John 4).

  The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a crippled man (John 5:1-14).

  The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a blind man (John 9:1-4).

  The tribunal at Corinth where Paul was tried (Acts 18:12-17).

  The theater at Ephesus where the riot of silversmiths occurred (Acts 19:29). - See picture at top

  Herod's palace at Caesarea where Paul was kept under guard (Acts 23:33-35).

Joshua's 'long day' - Have NASA computers really proven it?

Although we believe that biblical account of Joshua's Long Day is true, the claim that NASA has proven it is an old urban myth.

Actually, the claim that astronomical calculations proved that a day was 'missing' began over a century ago. In the last few decades, the myth has been embellished with NASA computers performing those calculations.

No one who repeats this story has ever provided details of these calculations - how exactly was this missing day discovered? This should automatically make people cautious. How could you detect a missing day unless you had a fixed reference point before this day?

In fact we would need to cross check between both astronomical and historical records to detect any missing day. And to detect a missing 40 minutes requires that these reference points are known to within an accuracy of a few minutes.

It is certainly true that the timing of solar eclipses observable from a certain location can be known precisely. But the ancient records did not record time that precisely, so the required cross check is simply not possible. Anyway, the earliest historically recorded eclipse occurred in 1217 BC, nearly two centuries after Joshua.

There is so much good evidence for the truth of creation and the Bible that we don't need to resort to embellishments and urban myths.

How can the "long days" of Joshua and Hezekiah be explained?

In Joshua 10, the Bible tells the story of the day when the sun--and time--stopped. The Israelites were fighting the Amorites in Canaan. During the battle, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stop, so he would have extra daylight to finish the task. Scripture records that this prayer was answered: The sun "delayed going down about a full day" (v. 13). The very objects in the sky that the Amorites worshipped fought against them!

Several modern interpretations of the story have been suggested:

All of these explanations fall far short of the statement that there has never been another day like the one described (Joshua 10:14, cf. Habbakuk 3:11 - "...Sun and moon stood still in the heavens...").

What really happened on that special day? As with all miracles, it is futile to speculate with scientific theories. The details are unclear, but we know that God could have refracted the light, or slowed the earth's rotation, or stopped the entire universe--all with equal ease!

Time stopped for Joshua, and it ran backwards for Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:9-11).

God used this event as a special sign to show Hezekiah that he would regain his health. The sun's shadow moved backwards by ten steps, probably five to six hours on the sundial. That is, the sun appeared to move eastward instead of westward. The conclusion is again the same, that such a miracle is beyond scientific explanation.

God may have temporarily reversed the earth's rotation, including all its inhabitants, or the miracle in Hezekiah's day could have been local instead of worldwide. The latter view is supported by 2 Chronicles 32:31, which describes envoys who traveled to the land where the miracle occurred.

Joshua and Hezekiah both made lofty requests of the Lord, that the very heavens might be altered. And God answered their prayers. The sun, moon, and stars obey the Creator who placed them in the sky by the power of his word.

 

Has the Garden of Eden ever been found?

 

The Bible says regarding the location of Eden:

"And a river went out of Eden, to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads."
-Genesis 2:10

Two of these rivers are called Hiddekel and Perath. (See: Genesis 2:10-14)

This is why many Christians have assumed that the original garden was located somewhere in the Mesopotamian region (around present day Iraq) where the modern Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow.

Map showing Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Copyrighted, Eden Communications.

However, the Bible records a devastating worldwide Flood, many centuries after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Sedimentary layers sometimes miles thick, bear mute testimony to this massive watery upheaval which tore apart and buried forever the pre-Flood world.


After the Flood, the survivors (Noah's family) moved to the plain of Shinar (Sumeria/Babylonia) which is where we find rivers today called Tigris and Euphrates. These are therefore clearly not the same rivers. They run on top of Flood-deposited layers of rock containing billions of dead things (killed by the Flood). These rivers were probably named after the original pre-Flood rivers, just as settlers from the British Isles to America and Australasia applied familiar names to many places in their "new world."

Note also, that the Bible speaks of one river breaking into four. This is not what is found in the Middle East today.

The Garden was destroyed by the Flood. Its actual location on the globe can never be established.

Noah's Ark - Has anyone really discovered it?

 

Over the last two decades the search for Noah's Ark has received international attention. Dozens of expeditions to the Ararat region of eastern Turkey, mostly by American Christian groups, have led to numerous claims - but no proof.

Illustration copyrighted, Eden Communications/Films for Christ.

Artist's conception of Noah's Ark based on biblical information and reported sightings on Mt. Ararat.

According to the Bible, Noah's Ark was a large barge constructed of wood and sealed with bitumen. Its overall dimensions were at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high with three interior decks. A "window" appeared to be constructed around the top (Genesis 6:14-16). Incidentally, the overall size of the Ark makes it the largest seagoing vessel known before the 20th century, and its proportions are amazingly similar to the large ocean liners of today.

The Bible says Noah's boat came to rest on "the mountains of Ararat" (Genesis 8:4). "Ararat" probably designated a region (the ancient kingdom of Urartu) and not a specific mountain peak. After Noah and his family left the Ark on the mountain, the boat virtually disappeared from the pages of the Bible. Later Biblical writers never suggested they knew it could still be seen.

Mt. Ararat
Mt. Ararat in Turkey where many "Ark sightings" have been reported.

The mountain called Ararat today is more like a mountain range with twin peaks. Interestingly, there have been numerous reports throughout history of a large boat on a mountain in this region. Earliest references (beginning in the 3rd century B.C.) suggested it was common knowledge that the Ark could still be viewed on Mount Ararat.

Reports over the past century range from visits to the vessel, to recovery of wooden timber, to aerial photographs. It is generally believed that at least large part of the Ark is intact, not on the highest peak, but somewhere above the 10,000 foot level. Apparently encased in snow and ice for most of the year, only during certain warm summers can the structure be witnessed or accessed. Some have spoken of climbing onto the roof, others say they have walked inside.

In the 1980s, "ark-eology" was given an air of respectability with the active participation of former NASA astronaut James Irwin in expeditions up the mountain. In addition, Ark investigation was also given a boost with the breakup of the former Soviet Union, because the mountain was right on the Turkey-Soviet border. Expeditions up the mountain had been considered a security threat by the Soviet government.

Unfortunately, return visits to proposed sites have produced no further evidence, the whereabouts of all photographs are presently unknown, and different sightings do not suggest the same location on the mountain. Furthermore, Astronaut

 

James Irwin has since died, a purported eyewitness has recently recanted publicly, and there have been few new expeditions up the mountain in the 1990s. Further expeditions have taken place in the new millennium, but no proof of the Ark has yet been found.

But efforts are still ongoing. While the Associates for Biblical Research is not engaged in any of these efforts, we are aware of continued research into ancient reports, further testimony from eyewitnesses and renewed efforts to pinpoint the Ark's resting place. More expeditions are pending. If it's up there, we will certainly hear about it.

Note from the Editor (Paul S. Taylor)

Due to a popular Hollywood movie released in theaters in 1976 ("In Search of Noah's Ark"), many people remain under the impression that Noah's Ark has definitely been found. Particularly memorable to many people was a fuzzy telephoto photograph of what some thought might be the Ark. Later expeditions proved that the object was simply a large rock formation.

In the 1980s and 90s, many were misled by network news stories and newspaper articles that claimed the Ark had been found at a completely different location. Reports were of a ship-shaped structure 15 miles from Mt. Ararat. Unfortunately, various exaggerated claims about this site were spread. This location is often referred to as the Durupinar Site. It was internationally promoted by an American nurse anesthetist named Ron Wyatt, known for making inaccurate claims. Geologic surveys, subsurface radar and core-drilling data later confirmed beyond any doubt that this odd formation is not the Ark. It is merely a geologic feature common throughout the Ararat region. [More Information]

 

 

Did Noah need oxygen above the mountains?

 

 

 

"If mountain climbers need oxygen tanks to climb Mount Everest, how were Noah, his family, and the animals able to breathe on the Ark when they were above the mountains?" (see Genesis 7:0)

 

Mountains. Photo copyrighted. Courtesy of Eden Communications.

This question presupposes that Mount Everest was the height it is now, and that the air pressure would not have changed at that height above normal sea level with the addition of the flood water.

Mount Everest was not the height it is now during the Flood. Earth's highest mountains have fossils of sea creatures at their tops, showing they were once under the sea. The possibilities are that...

  the sea rose to cover the mountains

  or the mountains were once under the sea and have since risen out of the sea,

  or a combination of the two.

Measurements suggest that Everest is currently rising at up to 15 centimeters (six inches) per year. If we extrapolate backwards, taking the rate of rise of 15 cm per year and the current height of Everest (8,848 meters, or 29,028 feet), Everest would have been at sea level only 59,000 years ago. If the current rate of rise is only the tail end of what has been happening in the past, the rise in the past could have been much greater, bringing the origin of Everest to the time of Noah's Flood.

Creationist scientists currently think that mountains such as the Himalayas were probably built by catastrophic movement of the Earth's continental plates during and after the Flood. The rate of rise now measured is just the remnant of the processes which occurred much faster in the past.

Mountain building occurred as a part of the geologic processes which deepened the oceans to take the waters off the land towards the end of the Flood. Some mountains could have existed before the Flood, but none like the current Himalayas, Alps, or Andes in height. In any case, there is only enough water on all the Earth to cover mountains about 3 kilometers (2 miles) high, if all the ocean basins were raised.

Noah's Ark on floodwaters. Photo copyrighted, Eden Communications.

So, if the waters were not 9 kilometers deep, but much less, the question is no longer an issue.

Even if the flood waters were 9 kilometers deep, would Noah and company have had trouble breathing?

Absolutely not. Air pressure is caused by the weight of air above the point where the pressure is experienced. If the water was 9 kilometers deep, then the air that was in that 9 kilometers deep volume of what was atmosphere would have been pushed out and would then have sat above the water at 9 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

However, if we assume the worst case scenario of the radius of the Earth increasing by 9 kilometers due to the water, the surface area of the Earth plus water would have been greater than the Earth, so that the weight of air would have been spread over a bigger area so that the pressure would have been less.

How much would the air pressure have been reduced? Less than 0.3%. This is equivalent to standing on top of a 30 meter (100 feet) high building at sea level! There would also have been a negligible effect on the pressure due to changes in the force of gravity (which affects the weight of the air).

It is certain, therefore, that those on the Ark would have had no trouble breathing - without oxygen tanks.

 

 

Evidences for the worldwide flood of Noah's day

 

Noah's Ark. Copyrighted by Eden Communications.

Nine Biblical Evidences that the Flood was Global

Some evangelical teachers today are claiming that Noah's flood did not cover the entire Earth nor all the mountains of the day. Further, they claim that Noah and the animals floated on a shallow, temporary inland sea caused by the flood, somehow covering only the Mesopotamian region. Thus, they must claim that the Earth's entire human population was limited to this area, or that not all humans were killed in the flood. Is there really biblical evidence for claims of this nature?

  1. All The Mountains Were Covered. The tops of all the high mountains under the entire heavens were at least 20 feet beneath the waters surface (Genesis 7:19-20). It would be absurd to think that a flood covering the highest mountains of the Middle East would not affect the rest of the world. In addition, the waters remained at this awesome, mountain-covering height for five months! (Genesis 7:18-24, 8:1-5).
  2. The Ark Was Huge. The ark was necessary to prevent the extinction of humans and animals. If the Flood were merely local, God could have sent them to a safer part of the world. God warned Noah about the Flood 120 years prior to its start. Surely, Noah and his family could have traveled a great distance in that time. Also, if the Flood was local, the ark was unnecessarily large. Until the first metal ships were constructed in modern times, the ark was the largest ship ever built. It was big enough to house representative pairs of every created-kind of air-breathing, land animal on Earth.
  3. Humans Populated The Entire World. After more than 1600 years of habitation on Earth, the planet's population was surely large (millions or billions). The Bible confirms that (a) Man had multiplied upon the face of the Earth (Genesis 6:1), (b) Violence and corruption filled the Earth (Genesis 6:11-12). The Bible is clear that man could not have existed only in the Mesopotamian region - a region too small to support such a large population, especially considering the natural dispersion affect of a violent society.
  4. All Humans Were Killed. The Bible clearly teaches that all flesh died...every man (Genesis 7:21). Genesis 9:1 confirms that only Noah's family was saved and that every person living today is descended from his family.
  5. All Air-Breathing, Land Animals Killed. The world's entire population of air-breathing, land animals died, except those taken into the ark (Genesis 7:21) - "everything on Earth" (Genesis 6:17) - "all living creatures of every kind on the Earth" (Genesis 9:16). If only those animals in a specific geographic location died, it would seem unnecessary for God to protect pairs in the ark for the express purpose of preventing their extinction. Surely there would be representatives of their kinds in other areas. If, on the other hand, there were some unique kinds of animals in the local flood's path, then it would seem more logical for God to send representative pairs out of the area, rather than to the ark, as He did. The Bible is clear that all the air-breathing, land animals perished during the flood, except those preserved with Noah - from which all modern animals are descended.
  6. A "Cataclysm," Not A Mere Flood. Both Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) use words to describe Noah's flood which are different than the ordinary words for flood. In this way, Noah's flood was represented as a totally unique occurrence. [Hebrew / "Mabbool" - Greek / "Kataklusmos" (cataclysm)].
  7. God's Rainbow Promise. God promised never again to send a global flood (Genesis 8:21, 9:8-17). This promise is demonstrated by the symbol of the rainbow, a sign for God's promise to all the Earth. The rainbow is a sign to every living creature, mankind and animals. If this promise was not made to all creatures on Earth, then God has broken His promise. Local floods have repeatedly killed hundreds and even thousands of humans and animals since Noah's time.
  8. Why Stay In The Ark A Year?! Noah was in the ark for more than a year, not just 40 days (Genesis 8:14). 53 weeks is absurdly long to stay in the ark for a local flood since dry land would have been just over the horizon. After the flood waters had been going down for 4 months, the dove could still find no suitable ground (Genesis 8:9). This does not seem to fit the circumstances for a local flood in which the dove could fly to dry land. However, these situations are consistent if the Flood was global.
  9. The Whole Earth Was Devastated. God said, "I am surely going to destroy both them (the people) and the Earth" (Genesis 6:13b). The global extent of the Flood is referred to more than 30 times in Genesis 6-9 alone! In Isaiah 54:9, God states, "I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the Earth." Peter delivered a clear global warning, confirming that God created the Earth, devastated it by the Flood, and will one day destroy it again by fire (2 Peter 3:5-7). Peter certainly did not mean that just a local area on Earth would be burned. Just as the Flood was global, so will be the final judgment.

The Bible specifically teaches that the Flood of Noah's time was global in extent and that all air-breathing, land animals and all humans were killed, except those saved in the Ark. How could the Bible be any more clear concerning the global nature of the Flood?! Or, if this was actually a local flood, how could the Bible have been any more misleading about its extent?!

 

What is "Gopher Wood?"

 

Wood. Illustration copyrighted.The Hebrew word "gopher" is used only once in the Bible, in Genesis 6:14. God told Noah to "make yourself an ark of gopher wood." Because no one knows for certain what "gopher" means in this context, the King James Version and the New King James Version simply leave the word untranslated and say "gopher" wood.

Most modern English versions of the Bible translate it as "cypress." This is probably incorrect and is really only a guess supported by very weak evidence. Why cypress? In trying to solve the identity of "gopher wood," some guessed that a transliteration might be involved ("kupar" into "gopher"). Adam Clarke's Commentary says, "supposing the Greek word kuparissov, cypress, was formed from the Hebrew rpg, gopher; for take away the termination issov, and then gopher and kupar will have a near resemblance." Another supposed evidence for "cypress" is based on the fact that cypress trees are large and strong, and in the post-Flood earth, at least, once grew abundantly in Chaldea and Armenia. Armenia is where the ark is believed to have landed, in the mountains of Ararat.

Cypress is far from the only guess made by translators. Other trees and plants include pine, cedar, fir, ebony (Bockart), wicker (Geddes), juniper (Castellus), acacia (Religious Tract Society), boxwood, or slimed bulrushes (Dawson).

Tree. Photo copyrighted.

What's wrong with all such guesses that attempt to identify a particular tree or plant with "gopher wood?"

First, if "gopher" is a tree or a plant, it is not necessarily one that still exists today. Many plants have become extinct. We know little about the kinds of wood available to Noah in the pre-Flood world. No one today has seen the pre-Flood world; it was destroyed. [See: Has the Garden of Eden ever been found?]

Second, we don't know where in the wide world Noah lived; there is little or no evidence, only assumptions. Based on even conservative rates of population growth, Earth could easily have been widely populated in the 2000 years between Creation and the Flood.

Third, the identification of "gopher" with "cypress" or any other known tree or plant, based on Noah's supposed location, ignores the fact that Earth was greatly changed by the Flood. Remember that the Flood devastated the entire globe. Here is a quick summary of some of the relevant events and their ramifications...

All the fountains of the great deep broke up (implying massive earthquakes and splitting of Earth's crust) (Genesis 7:11). [See: Noah's Flood - Where did the water come from?] Such earth movements would produce huge tsunamis in the rising seas, producing further devastation. So massive was the amount of water involved in the Flood that it eventually covered all the highest hills/mountains (Gen. 7:19). There is no such thing as a worldwide, tranquil flood. In total, such events would clearly produce major geologic and geographic changes. Massive devastation and erosion would occur: hundreds and even thousands of feet of sediment would be laid down during such a catastrophe (the biblical flood lasted more than a year). Massive destruction was clearly the point of this judgment: the destruction of all humans on the earth (except those protected by the ark), the erasure of every trace of these extremely evil people and their civilization, starting over with the only remaining Godly family, and leaving Earth changed in ways that would make it more difficult for evil to rapidly spread and dominate the globe--as it had in the physically more paradise-like, pre-Flood world which was much closer to the way God created it.

Based on the size of this historic event and evidence from the geologic record, pre-Flood and post-Flood geography probably do not correspond well. This is another reason why we cannot know the approximate latitude/longitude of the ark's construction site.

Fourth, the location of the ark's landing is not very relevant. Remember that the post-Flood ark floated around for five months on tumultuous water. It could have traveled far from its construction site.

In summary, if "gopher" refers to a type of tree or plant, we lack sufficient evidence to determine its identity.

It is possible that "gopher" refers to a PROCESS or METHOD used to prepare the wood or to construct the ark.

Examples:

1.      The words "gopher" and "ets" (wood) used in Genesis 6:14 are translated in the Septuagint (LXX.) as "squared beams."

2.      The Vulgate version translated these same words as "planed wood."

3.      Some researchers have suggested that "gopher" may have referred to a lamination process, which might have been necessary considering the huge size of the ark (450 feet long or more). If true, the correct translation would be "laminated wood." The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry suggests that the true meaning of the word "gopher" may be found in a modern dictionary, and that forms of the word may still be in use today. "In the Concise Oxford Dictionary 1954 edition under the word 'gofer, gaufre, goffer, gopher, and gauffer see also wafer' it speaks of a number of similar things ranging from wafers as in biscuit making (layers of biscuit) or in a honeycomb pattern, to layers of lace in dressmaking, and hence goffering irons to iron the layers of lace."

4.      Due to the similarity between a "g" and a "k" in the Hebrew alphabet (both resemble a backwards "C"), some have suggested that the first letter in the word "gopher" could be a scribal error, and that the word should be "kopher." Kopher is a Hebrew word translated as "pitch" in Genesis 6:14. Pitch is a waterproof covering. (No one knows for sure what kind of pitch Noah used). But if this scribal error theory is correct, then the verse would properly read, in effect, "Make yourself an ark of pitched wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch."

The bottom-line is that this ancient word remains a mystery. It is just one of many things I look forward to asking Noah about, when I get to Heaven.

Could Noah's Ark really hold all the animals preserved in the flood?

 

 


Noah's Ark as shown in The World That Perished. Copyright, Eden Communications.

A growing number of scientists believe that geological evidence indicates our world has undergone a catastrophic flood. This is causing them to question whether or not the biblical account of Noah's ark could be true. Many people are rereading the Biblical description of the Ark to ascertain the feasibility of such a vessel to fulfill its designated purpose in light of present day knowledge of both zoology and our present day knowledge of shipbuilding.

Noah's Ark size comparison to house. Illustration copyrighted, Eden Communications.

Size comparison between average size one-story home and Noah's Ark. Illustration from The World that Perished.

How big was Noah's Ark?

"And God said unto Noah... Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt though make in the ark, and thou shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 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. A window shalt thou make in the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side therof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it." (Gen. 6:14-16)

 

 

Cubit measurement. Photo copyrighted, Eden Communications.

A cubit is the distance between an adult's elbow and tip of the finger, no less than 18-inches [45.72 centimeters]. (Scene from The World that Perished.)

Most Hebrew scholars believe the cubit to have been no less than 18 inches long [45.72 centimeters]. This means that the ark would have been at least 450 feet long [137.16 meters], 75 feet wide [22.86 meters] and 45 feet high [13.716000000000001 meters]. Noah's Ark was said to have been the largest sea-going vessel ever built until the late nineteenth century when giant metal ships were first constructed. Its length to width ratio of six to one provided excellent stability on the high seas. In fact, modern shipbuilders say it would have been almost impossible to turn over. In every way, it was admirably suited for riding out the tremendous storms in the year of the flood.

These dimensions are especially interesting when compared to those given in the mythical, Babylonian account of the Ark. Here the ark is described as a perfect cube, extending 120 cubits in all directions and with nine decks. Such a vessel would spin slowly round and round in the water and from the standpoint of stability, would be a disaster.

But was the ark big enough to hold the number of animals required?

The total available floor space on the ark would have been over 100,000 square feet, which would be more floor space than in 20 standard-sized basketball courts.

Railroad stock cars. Copyrighted, Eden Communications.
Assuming an 18-inch cubit [45.72 centimeters], Noah's Ark would have had a cubic volume equal to 569 modern railroad stock cars.

The total cubic volume would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet [462,686.4 cubic meters] --that would be equal to the capacity of 569 modern railroad stock cars.

Now comes the question, how many land dwelling air breathing animals would have had to be taken aboard the ark to survive the flood?

According to Ernest Mayr, America's leading taxonomist, there are over 1 million species of animals in the world.

Undersea. Photo copyrighted, Eden Communications.

God only provided the Ark for the protection of humans and land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures. A huge number of animals would not need to be taken aboard the Ark because they are water dwellers. Representatives would be expected to survive the catastrophe. With God's protection against extinction during the Deluge, survival would have been assured. (Scene from The World that Perished, a Christian motion picture about the Flood)

However, the vast majority of these are capable of surviving in water and would not need to be brought aboard the ark. Noah need make no provision for the 21,000 species of fish or the 1,700 tunicates (marine chordates like sea squirts) found throughout the seas of the world, or the 600 echinoderms including star fish and sea urchins, or the 107,000 mollusks such as mussels, clams and oysters, or the 10,000 coelenterates like corals and sea anemones, jelly fish and hydroids or the 5,000 species of sponges, or the 30,000 protozoans, the microscopic single-celled creatures.

In addition, some of the mammals are aquatic. For example, the whales, seals and porpoises. The amphibians need not all have been included, nor all the reptiles, such as sea turtles, and alligators. Moreover, a large number of the arthropods numbering 838,000 species, such as lobsters, shrimp, crabs and water fleas and barnacles are marine creatures. And the insect species among arthropoda are usually very small. Also, many of the 35,000 species of worms as well as many of the insects could have survived outside the Ark.

How many animals needed to be brought aboard?

Doctors Morris and Whitcomb in their classic book, "The Genesis Flood," state that no more than 35,000 individual animals needed to go on the ark. In his well documented book, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe suggests that far fewer animals would have been transported upon the ark. By pointing out that the word "specie" is not equivalent to the "created kinds" of the Genesis account, Woodmorappe credibly demonstrates that as few as 2,000 animals may have been required on the ark. To pad this number for error, he continues his study by showing that the ark could easily accommodate 16,000 animals.)

Noah's Ark. Copyrighted, Eden Communications.

But, let's be generous and add on a reasonable number to include extinct animals. Then add on some more to satisfy even the most skeptical. Let's assume 50,000 animals, far more animals than required, were on board the ark, and these need not have been the largest or even adult specimens.

Remember there are really only a few very large animals, such as the dinosaur or the elephant, and these could be represented by young ones. Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people. The Ark had plenty of space.

The bigger problem would have been the construction of the Ark. But the Bible indicates that Noah did this under Divine guidance and there is no reason to believe he did not hire additional workmen.

How were the animals gathered?

Another enormous problem some have posed is the problem of gathering specimens of each kind of air-breathing land animal and bringing them aboard the Ark. However, the Genesis account indicates that God gathered the animals and brought them to Noah inside the ark two by two. Some have suggested this may have involved the origin of animal migratory instincts or, at least, an intensification of it. We also know that most animals possess the ability to sense danger and to move to a place of safety.

How could Noah's family take care of all those animals?

Noah with the animals. Copyrighted, Eden Communications.
Noah with the animals, as depicted in the motion picture, The World that Perished.

Once aboard, many have suggested that Noah's problems really began, with only 8 people to feed and water, to provide fresh air and sanitation for the huge menagerie of animals for a total of 371 days. However, a number of scientists have suggested that the animals may have gone into a type of dormancy. It has been said that in nearly all groups of animals there is at least an indication of a latent ability to hibernate or aestivate. Perhaps these abilities were supernaturally intensified during this period. With their bodily functions reduced to a minimum, the burden of their care would have been greatly lightened.

Conclusion

It is evident, when all the facts are examined that there is no scientific evidence that the biblical account of Noah's ark is a myth or fable. The facts support the view that Noah's ark was large enough to carry the number of animals required to repopulate the earth after the flood and that Noah and his family were capable of caring for the animals during their time on the Ark.

The flood of Noah's day was a universal judgment of sin. God destroyed the world that existed at that time because of their wickedness. When we look at nature, with its testimonies to the flood, we are viewing a reminder that God does judge sin. It is also a reminder that God will save those who have faith in Him from judgment. God promised that He would never again destroy the world with water, but that a future judgment would take place. Jesus Christ came into the world to die for our sins and to restore man's relationship with God, so that we need not fear His judgment.

 

 

 

Noah pleaded with the people of his day to have faith in God. They would not listen and the door to the ark was closed. Now, Christ is calling unto the world to once again have faith in God. Will you answer His calling and be saved from future judgment? The decision is yours.