Discoveries of archaeology
verified the reliability of the Bible
Reliability of the Bible - In what ways have archaeological discoveries
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
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
The Story of Adapa tells of a test for
immortality involving food, similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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:
· 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).
· 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
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
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
The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a blind man (John
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
from the Editor (Paul S. Taylor)
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
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
Did Noah need oxygen above the mountains?
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.
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
Evidences for the worldwide flood of Noah's day
Biblical Evidences that the Flood was Global
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?
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?"
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"
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).
What's wrong with all such guesses that
attempt to identify a particular tree or plant with "gopher
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
In summary, if "gopher"
refers to a type of tree or plant, we lack sufficient evidence to determine its
It is possible that "gopher"
refers to a PROCESS or METHOD used to prepare the wood or to construct the ark.
The words "gopher" and "ets" (wood)
used in Genesis 6:14 are translated in the Septuagint (LXX.) as "squared
The Vulgate version translated these same words as "planed
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."
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?
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.
How big was Noah's
"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."
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.
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
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
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.)
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
How were the animals
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?
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
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.