Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Noah's Ark -- About the Size of a Supercarrier

Since I have Google available from my phone, I decided to research how the biblical dimensions for Noah's ark, 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits compared to a modern aircraft carrier.  The results are pretty cool.

The dimensions at water level of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (the pride of the United Stated Navy; aka nuclear supercarrier) is 333 m long by 40.1 m wide.  In other words, roughly the same shape as Noah's ark, but dimensions in meters instead of cubits.  Since a cubit is roughly half a meter, that means that Noah's ark is approximately 1/4 the size of our nuclear supercarriers.  Cool, eh?  There's more.  The ark had a draft (depth of hull below water level) of 11 cubits (see Rashi on Genesis 8:4), and the Nimitz-class supercarrier has a draft of 11.7 meters.  Given all that, it seems reasonable to look at the crew facilities to get an idea of how much life the ark, in a completely natural setting, could support.

The ark had three floors, the Nimitz-class supercarrier has four levels of crew quarters.  However, much of the lower three floors are used for other stuff than crew cabins; namely, storage for the almost 100 aircraft in huge under the hull hangars.  Basically, therefore, the ark straight out of the box could be expected to support a quarter of the population supported by a supercarrier.  How much is that?  Those babies support 5,000+ crew members!  So, again in a completely natural setting and with no necessary recourse to "well... its a miracle", we could expect Noah's ark to easily accommodate more than a thousand people.  Now, there were only eight humans there, but all of the extant (except unicorns, who missed the deadline 'cause they were too busy playing) were housed there for a year.

The Torah classification scheme for animals is different than the modern scientific (for those of you who are willing to call biology science) taxonomy.  But, it is reasonable to expect they agree on gross features.  That is, I don't know if the Torah was distinguishing between different kinds of parakeets, but we certainly know that the Torah distinguishes between camels, lions, and bears.  So I looked up how many families of animals there are.  A bit over 5,000 (5,320, according to Yahoo! Answers best answer).  Pretty darn crowded, but certainly reasonable.

Why did I do all this?  Why is it important?  Obviously, this is not going to change my belief in the veracity of the Biblical account.  On the other hand, HaShem gave us a mind with which to reason and laws that are meant (by and large) to be understandable to us.  After all, the content of the entire Talmud is based the premise that we are expected and required to utilize logical inference as a vehicle to understanding HaShem's most precious gift to us, His Torah.  Moreover, the Torah gives us details of the ark -- physical dimensions, architectural layout, and even how to utilize the space.  Going through those details and understanding them brings us from a bible story that we believe because, you know, its part of the tradition, but we are kind of embarrassed to discus it in mixed (ie, non-religious) company, to "I know, right!?  So cool with all those details that really bring it alive!"

Besides... the ten year old boy in me really likes aircraft carriers, especially nuclear super ones.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…