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7.   Flood Questions

Noah,  the Eighth Person

The faithful Bible student correctly understands that the Bible teaches in parables.  Yet occasionally he will run into words, phrases, and verses whose spiritual dimension has been overlooked –  and suddenly, it is as if a new verse has been born.

We have lately become especially aware of the details of the Flood of Noah's day, due to its parallel with the destruction which awaits the world in 2011 AD –  the 7000th anniversary of the Flood.  It is a familiar fact, therefore, that there were eight persons on board the ark.  Hence, readers of the following verse do not pause when they read:

2 Peter 2:5b  ...[God (from v.4)] saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness...

Question 1).  We know there were eight people on the ark... but why mention that?  And of the eight people on the ark, why is Noah called "the eighth"?

It does seem an oddly unnecessary detail when referring to Noah.  The literal, non-parable answer, may be explained in Genesis 7:

Genesis 7:2a, 3b  Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: ... to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

In fulfillment of this command, Noah took many animals by seven, and ultimately he also took along people by seven.

The possible spiritual implications of 2 Peter 2:5 are addressed in Questions 2 & 3:

Question 2).  It says, "...[God] saved Noah the eighth person..."  Was Noah... the eighth person saved... in all of history?

Such a question is not outrageous, as we have learned that God's plan of salvation did not include a robust harvest early on:  Most of those who passed through the Red Sea perished in unbelief.  Elijah thought himself to be the only man of God in the land.  Christ's ministry, though it drew many crowds, saw few people saved while He was on Earth.  And of course, Noah's world was so overrun with evil, God destroyed its entire population.

Preacher of Righteousness

Greek-- like Hebrew, Russian, and many other languages-- does not have the indefinite article [a / an].  [1]   Therefore it is up to translators to insert it as they see fit, when the flow and grammar of the english translation call for it.

Is it called for in this instance?  Seemingly, yes; but only because of the KJV insertion of two things:  the word "person", and the comma after it.  Removing ["person, a"], gives the verse in its unaltered form:  "Noah the eighth preacher of righteousness".

This may have made little sense to the translators.  Yet as the number eight is easily tied to the population inside the ark, the change to "Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness" apparently seemed to resolve this curious reference to Noah as being "the eighth".

Question 3).  Were Noah and Enoch two consecutive members of some unspoken series?

Consider Enoch, an early calendar patriarch:

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

God refers to Enoch as "the seventh"... but of what?  The seventh calendar patriarch? 

If, as per above, we find Noah to have been  the eighth preacher of righteousness  (or even, the eighth saved person on Earth )... might Enoch's reference as "the seventh" serve to identify him as Noah's predecessor... in whatever same small group?  Two things would qualify him:  1.) Enoch predated Noah;  2.) Jude 1:14 shows Enoch as a "preacher of righteousness", boldly declaring God's words.

Curiously, both Enoch and Noah are described in the Bible as having "walked with God":

Genesis 5:24  And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 6:9  These are the generations of Noah:  Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

If these two men were seventh and eighth in this same series, then we may say of them:  "Enoch the seventh" and "Noah the eighth"  preacher of righteousness from Adam who walked with God.

Question 4).  If Enoch was the Seventh "preacher of righteousness from Adam "...

Was Adam the First?  Or did the counting begin after Adam?

The answer might reveal whether Adam were chosen by God for salvation.

120 Years to Live

It has been noted by the Bible teacher Harold Camping that there is a hidden timetable from Initial warning (Genesis 6:17) to Flood.  To find this, one looks to Genesis 6:3:

Genesis 6:3  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Genesis records the lifespans of Adam, Seth, and Methusaleh as 930, 912, and 969 years, respectively.  But now Genesis 6:3 seems to be saying that God is reducing the centuries-long expected lifespan, enjoyed by men since the Creation, down to a more modest 120 years.

Actually, something different is happening.  Remember the context of this sixth chapter of Genesis--  Here God is:  1.) declaring displeasure with man;  and  2.) announcing plans to destroy man.

The message is not, God will cease striving with men after each one lives (an average of) 120 years .  Rather, God plans to call them all down to the grave together, after the expiration of 120 years... by means of a universal flood.

Yet strangely, the doom-after-120-years finds mention before any sign of God's displeasure with man.  Yet hidden in the very start of the chapter (v. 1,2) are seeds of man's drift into sin-- for it says, "the sons of God" (believers) inter-married with "the daughters of men" (unbelievers).

Years later, God warned in His law against the dangers of such behavior:

Exodus 34:12,16  Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: ... And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

The Bible itself tends to refute any  'lifespan shortened to 120 years '  interpretation of Genesis 6:3:

1.  Men continued to exerience centuries-long lifespans:  For instance, Noah himself lived to be 950 years at his death;  Shem, 600;  and Arphaxad, 438.

2.  Other than Moses, the Bible fails to record anyone's life ending at age 120.  And it was Moses himself who had his words quoted in Psalms, on this very topic:

Psalm 90 ("A Prayer of Moses the man of God") verse 10:  The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Even today we see the same:  under optimal conditions, men and women typically live to approximately 70 or 80 years.

Yet, notice the uncertainty alowed by this wording:  "threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years".  Compare this to the inescapable certainty of the flat declaration:  "his days shall be an hundred and twenty years"  (Genesis 6:3).

This then is the grim pronouncement of God:  120 years to destruction.

Was the 120-Year Timetable Made Known to Noah?

The 120-year timetable being established, there remains the question:  Did God convey this detail to Noah?  For this we consult what God said, and to whom.

In Genesis 6:3 God sets a limit to the years man had left to live.  Then in v. 7 He says:

Genesis 6:7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Notice, Noah is not brought up until v. 10.  And God's declaration to Noah only begins at v. 13.

Included elements:

– the coming destruction of life
– command to build an ark
– ark specifications
– method of destruction = flood
– command to place animals, family, & food in the ark to survive

Whether Noah received details as to the timing of all this, is not apparently indicated here in Genesis 6.

Still, at a minimum, the maker of the ark would have known that the flood could not arrive while he was still diligently at work preparing it.  Accordingly, it could be said that Noah had no critical need to know in what year the Flood was planned.

As the ark slowly progressed in its unspoken testimony to all onlookers, Noah-- the project foreman-- could likely have gauged the time remaining for its completion to within a certain number of years.

Arguing Against Noah's Knowledge of the 120 Years

1.  God, in stating His pronouncement of Genesis 6:7 ("And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth"), could have been talking to himself, much as He did when about to destroy Sodom:

Gen 18:17,18  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

2.  As already stated, it appears God's words disclosing His plans were spoken before Noah was included in the discussion, let alone the chapter.

3.  It may have been enough for Noah to busy himself with the construction of the ark, and with the preaching of righteousness, and leave the distant matter of the exact timing of the end to God.

There is precedent with God in the initial concealment of His timing:  God has withheld the timing of the end (coming in 2011) all throughout the church age, so believers could focus on the building of the church... which, interestingly, is typified as a ship in Acts 27.

Arguing For Noah's Knowledge of the 120 Years

1.  Noah, as a preacher of righteousness, and one close enough to God that "he walked with" Him, could understandably have been charged with knowledge of such an important detail.  Also, knowledge of the times would have allowed Noah to bring a more full counsel of God in the matter to his contemporaries.  An actual time warning would set him at a par with Jonah, whose warning to the Ninevites included a specific time element.

2.  Consider:

Ecclesiastes 8:5  Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.

3.  Also:

Amos 3:7  Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

4.  Revealing the 120-year countdown to Noah (and thus to the world) would indeed serve to heighten the urgency of the warning.  Yet as it is God who grants repentence and bestows righteousness, and as His plan only included saving eight people, the inclusion of the actual date in the warning would not have interfered with anyone's salvation... as none were to become saved.

5.  The more God's truth is mocked and unheeded by a people, the more God is honored by their destruction.  The more merciful information there is contained in God's warning, the more there is to mock and to reject.  Mankind's error of having the actual year of God's pronouncement, yet ignoring it entirely, would further heap upon themselves their own rightful sentence and utter destruction.

Dimensions of the Ark

One set of numbers we must not overlook in the Flood account is the list of dimensions for the ark, specified by God Himself:

Genesis 6:14  Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
Genesis 6:15  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.
Genesis 6:16  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

Here is a diagram of the basic ark components, as seen from above.  (Note the roof, which is shown with a center ridge and slight slope-- to help visualize it as a roof-- though this detail is not specified in God's instructions.)

  dimension cubits boards   (Ex. 26:16*)
  length 300    (450 ft) 30  lengthwise
200  side-to-side
  width 50      (75 ft) 5  lengthwise
33+1/3  side-to-side
  height 30      (45 ft) 3  upright
20  horizontal
  perimeter 700    (1050 ft) 70  lengthwise
  girth, x-section 160    (240 ft) 16  lengthwise
  long girth, vertical x-section 660    (990 ft) 66  lengthwise
  floorspace, 1 story (= footprint of ark) 15,000 cubits2 1000
  floorspace, 3 cargo stories 45,000 cubits2 3000
  floorspace, 3 stories + roof 60,000 cubits2 4000
  area, long side 9000 cubits2 600
  area, short side 1500 cubits2 100
  area, 4 sides 21,000 cubits2 1400
  area, 3 stories + roof + 4 sides 81,000 cubits2 5400
  surface area, long wall on 1 story 3000 cubits2 [300 x 10] 200
  surface area, short wall on 1 story 500 cubits2 [50 x 10] 33+1/3
  surface area, walls on 1 story 7000 cubits2 466+2/3
  total surface area within 1 story 37,000 cubits2 2466+2/3
  total surface area within 3 stories 111,000 cubits2 n/a**
  total surface area, "within and without" 192,000 cubits2 n/a**
  volume, 1 story 450,000 cubits3
  volume, 3 stories 1,350,000 cubits3
  ratio, length:width (one story) 6:1 (fits 6 squares)
  ratio, length:height (long side) 10:1 (fits 10 squares)
  ratio, width:height (short side) 5:3
  side of a square with floorspace of 1 story 122.47    (183.71 ft)
  size of a circle with floorspace of 1 story r  = 69.10      (103.65 ft)
D = 138.20    (207.30 ft)
  side of a square with floorspace of 3 stories 212.13    (318.20 ft)
  size of a circle with floorspace of 3 stories r  = 119.68    (179.52 ft)
D = 239.37    (359.05 ft)
  side of a cube with volume of 1 story 24.66       (36.99 ft)
  size of a sphere with volume of 1 story r  = 15.30    (22.95 ft)
D = 30.60    (45.90 ft)
  side of a cube with volume of 3 stories 35.57       (53.36 ft)
  size of a sphere with volume of 3 stories r  = 22.07    (22.95 ft)
D = 44.13    (66.20 ft)

* A definition of board size is found in Exodus:
Exodus 26:16  Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board.  
Thus one board = 15 cubits2.  Whether God led Noah to use this standard is fully unknowable from the Bible.  The board-count figures above are given merely in the interest of exploring all possible Flood statistics.

** "n/a":  These categories count the surface area of 2nd & 3rd-story "boards" twice (both sides)... consider "total surface area" as the "paintable area".  Since 2nd & 3rd-story boards would be counted twice here, no figures are given for total boards.  (Such board totals are already found in this table, under the "area" categories.)

Chapter 8:  The Number 22

John O'Leary /

[1]  ^  "Miscellaneous Greek Items", by Corey Keating,