How Long Did it Take Noah to Build the Ark


Have you ever wondered how long it took Noah to build the ark? The Bible doesn’t give us an exact time frame, but from the little information given, we can make some calculations and give an estimated number. Before the figure is revealed, take a quick guess. Building a humongous ark in those days with a limited number of helping hands must have taken an extreme length of time, energy, and valuable resources. Noah didn’t care what it took. All he cared about was getting the instructions of the Lord done.

As we dive into details of what transpired when Noah built the ark, ask yourself this: “Am I willing to give my all on carrying out the fulfillment of God’s plan?”

This article will take you through some calculations on how long it took Noah to build an ark and why he did it.

Biblical Context Of The Flood 

It all started when God observed the wickedness of the world in Genesis 6. Sin had coated every one of his creation and it caused so much hurt in his heart to see this. 

This made God angry enough to make a decision to destroy everyone on the Earth, except they repent. Looking through all he had created, there was just one man whose action was pleasing to the Lord. That man was Noah. Noah, his wife, and three sons walked in the way of the Lord at all times. For this reason, God found favor with Him and decided to establish a covenant with Him. That covenant was to build an ark that would protect Noah and his family while the flood destroys the world and everything in it.

As seen in the same chapter, God gave specific information which Noah followed thoroughly without leaving any stone unturned.

Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper. So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:14‭-‬16‭, ‬22 NLT)

God also commanded Noah to preserve seven pairs of all clean animals and seven pairs of birds to ensure their reproduction even after the flood. Noah did as instructed and entered the ark with his family. The Lord Himself shut the door after they entered. Immediately after, the flood began and lasted for 150 days. Every living thing was destroyed. The people that mocked Noah while he built the ark drowned in the mass of water the flood produced.

After the flood stopped, the ark rested on Mount Ararat. Noah and the rest of the ark’s occupants waited for the Earth to dry up before they came out. Thereafter, God promised to never destroy the earth again with a flood, and he sealed this promise by sending a signal in the sky often referred to as the rainbow.

Who Was Noah In The Bible? 

The name Noah means “rest”. Lamech, Noah’s father, gave him the name in the hope that Noah would be a source of relief in their family. “Lamech named his son Noah, for he said, “May he bring us relief from our work and the painful labor of farming this ground that the Lord has cursed.”  (Genesis 5:29 NLT). Noah lived to be a “righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT). 

From the generation of Enoch, who also had a close relationship with God, Noah stood out from amongst the evil people surrounding him and obeyed God without question. Speaking of obedience, the one significant event that earmarked Noah as an obedient follower of God is the building of the famous ark. Noah had so much faith in God, that even without an obvious evidence of rain, he stuck to God’s will and built the ark.

But how old was Noah when he built the ark?

Noah is thought to have been 600 years old when he built the ark. 

How Did Noah Know To Build The Ark?

It all started with a vision. To build such an ark like that, God had to speak to Noah and give him specific instructions to follow. Along with those instructions came divine wisdom on how to turn God’s instructions into reality. Notice how the Bible tells us that God talked to Noah, explaining to him what to do. 

Also, Noah built the ark according to the specifications of what God told him. At that time, with little to no information from elsewhere, sticking to God’s instructions was the safest thing he could have done. But why did Noah build the ark, seeing that no one had done it before? Because God said so!

God’s word was more important to him than his comfort zone. Hence, Noah embarked on a journey to build the world’s largest ark according to the divine wisdom of God as specifically instructed by Him.

How Long Did It Take Noah To Build The Ark? 

To start with, building an ark of that size did not take a year. Neither did it take 5 or 10 years. That could have taken up to 100 years, but let’s do some math. In Genesis 5:32, the Bible says that Noah was 500 years old. He was this old just around the time he finished having all his 3 sons. And in Genesis 7: 6 and 11, the Bible recounts that Noah was 600 years old when the flood started. This means that it took approximately 100 years for Noah to build an ark, giving the whole world approximately this long to heed to the message that God preached through Noah. 

But this is not close enough to accuracy. When Noah was instructed by God, his sons were married. Although, at 500 years old, he had just finished having all 3 sons. No one knows at what age his last son got married, but it could have been between 30-50 years. Drawing from this, Noah could have been between 530-550 years old when he started building the ark. This reduces the construction time to 50-70 years.

What Did Noah’s Ark Look Like?

God gave Noah a vivid description of what the ark should look like. He said, “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper. (Genesis 6:14‭-‬16 NLT)

This ark had 3 layers, but the Bible didn’t specify who stayed in the 3 layers. From the specifications given, most historians say that the ark looked more like a rectangular shape rather than a circular one. With the number of animals going into the ark, the huge rectangular size of the ark is justified.

noah ark painting
Noah’s Ark, Edward Hicks, 1846

Who Went Aboard Noah’s Ark?

By now, you should know that God was very specific as to how the construction of the ark was going to be. This also included who was allowed to enter into the ark.

The answer to this question can be found in Genesis 7:1-3:

“When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also, take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood.”

This means that the ark contained Noah’s family, and seven pairs of each animal God had approved.

Final Thoughts 

Noah’s story is laced with so many lessons to learn. Obedience to God, faith in Him, standing out amid evil, walking closely to God, finding favour in his sight etc. 

The greatest of these lessons is having Faith in God. All circumstances made it difficult for Noah to believe in God, his word, and his instructions. However he still chose to follow His way even if it seemed foolish. Your prayer should be to have the kind of faith Noah had. This is one of the deepest desire of a practicing believer.