We cannot ascertain what each of the Ark’s eight human inhabitants looked like since the Bible does not provide physical descriptions of them, and we obviously do not have any photographs of them. Combined, they likely possessed much of the genetic variety present in humanity today, so they may have exhibited a vast array of characteristics. Are there any clues in Scripture that can guide us as we depict our ancient ancestors at the Ark Encounter?
A potential solution is to study the various people groups that scattered from Babel and attempt to trace them back to Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Genesis 10, known as the Table of Nations, explains where many of the descendants of these men settled. From this information, we can examine what people look like in those regions and use this information as a basis for how we will depict the people on the Ark.
For example, since some of Japheth’s descendants settled in Europe, we might assume that he had a lighter skin shade than his brothers, and he may have been taller, since some northern European groups are taller than average.
There are some difficulties with this proposed solution. First, even if we used the Table of Nations approach and assume that Japheth could have been a little taller and had lighter skin, the possibility exists that these traits came from Japheth’s wife instead. Japheth may have been darker skinned and shorter than we imagine, but if his wife were lighter skinned and taller, then the traits seen in some European peoples may have actually come from her.
Second, this approach would also require us to assume that the children of Shem, Ham, and Japheth did not intermarry in the generations between the Flood and Babel. In the example above, the traits seen in Japheth’s distant European descendants may have largely come from the descendants of Shem and Ham if Japheth’s sons, grandsons, and so on, regularly married women from his brothers’ lines. In certain places, there may have also been some mixing in the centuries after Babel.
Without physical descriptions of these people in Scripture, we cannot be sure how they appeared. The best information we can use does not solve our dilemma because of the assumptions that must be made. Nevertheless, we could still use these assumptions based on Genesis 10 to guide our decisions, and we can use this information to teach people the truth about human ancestry. We all go back to Noah and his family, and ultimately we are all descended from Adam and Eve.
In the next several blog posts, we will use this rationale along with other factors to give you a sneak peek at some of the concepts for the Ark’s passengers—with the exception of Noah, since we have previously posted some concept art for him.