[Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated as of February 16, 2012, to reflect the current status of the Ark Encounter project.]
We have received several inquiries about why we have more than eight people building the Ark in the illustration on our website. Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., explains.
When thinking about this issue, we should keep several things in mind.
It is true that only eight people were on board the Ark during the Flood. Genesis 7:13 states, “On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark.” This number is confirmed by the Apostle Peter in the New Testament, who stated that only “eight souls” were saved from the Flood (1 Peter 3:20; see also 2 Peter 2:5).
Notice that the Bible tells us how many people were on board the Ark, but it does not tell us how many people were involved in building it. God told Noah to build it and gave him specifications regarding the Ark’s construction materials (Genesis 6:14), size (Genesis 6:15), and cargo (Genesis 6:18–21).
Genesis also reveals that mankind was extremely wicked in the days before the Flood. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” ((Genesis 6:5). Several verses later, we are told, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” ((Genesis 6:11–12).
Sandwiched between these two passages is a brief description of Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He is also described as a just man who walked with God and was blameless in his time ((Genesis 6:8–9).
The Ark Encounter picture of the Ark’s construction depicts roughly two dozen people building the boat. There are a couple of possibilities as to who these people could have been.
First, they could have been additional family members. Although Genesis mentions Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, it does not tell us about his extended family. He may have had many brothers and sisters who might have been willing to help with the project. The genealogy in Genesis 5 lists the age of each of Noah’s ancestors when his son of record was born and at his death. It is interesting to note that Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) died in the year the Flood started and Lamech (Noah’s father) died five years before that. So they may have helped with the construction of the Ark. However, in our picture the Ark is nearly complete, so it is unlikely that these men were involved at this point in the construction.
The more likely possibility is that Noah hired people to help him build the Ark. The Bible does stress the wickedness of man prior to the Flood, but just like today, ungodly people may have been willing to work for a godly man. Answers in Genesis had several unbelieving contractors who helped at different stages of the Creation Museum’s construction, and we praise God that we had opportunities to witness to them and that some of them trusted in Christ. As a preacher of righteousness ((2 Peter 2:5), Noah would have certainly used this opportunity to proclaim God’s message to unbelievers working for him.
There is a strong possibility that Noah employed the use of animals for hauling and lifting heavy loads or other purposes. He may have also had access to sophisticated mechanisms and technology that people have not considered.
The fact of the matter is that the Bible does not limit the number of people who worked on the Ark. While we would not be dogmatic on this point, it is entirely consistent with God’s Word to believe that more than eight people were involved in the Ark’s construction.