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I've always heard (sermons, etc.) that Noah took 100 years building the ark. Recently, however, I studied the ark in the Bible, and I am unable to find any place in the Old Testament or the New where there is any reference whatsoever to how long the ark was in the building.

Is there any exegetical evidence of just how long Noah actually did take making the ark? Am I missing something? Or is this a Jewish tradition? Or did the preacher make it up to humour the congregation?

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  • Out of curiosity, what makes you ask the question? – Daniel Pape Mar 30 '17 at 15:03
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    @DanielPape, curiosity, mainly. I've always heard 100 years, and when I actually started studying, I failed to see the evidence for it. So, I thought, "Ask at hermeneutics!" :) – anonymous2 Mar 30 '17 at 15:08
  • It is probably based on Rashi (Gen. 6:14) which says it took 120 years to build: "There are numerous ways by which God could have saved Noah; why, then, did he burden him with this construction of the Ark? So that the men of the generation of the Flood might see him employed on it for 120 years and might ask him, “What do you need this for”? and so that he might answer them, “The Holy One, blessed be He, is about to bring a flood upon the world” — perhaps they might repent (Sanhedrin 108b)." – Bach Nov 4 '19 at 21:00
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According to scripture, Genesis 6:3 reveals a "countdown" toward the flood of 120 years (though there is some contention with this interpretation of the 120 years). However, in Genesis 6:14-18 we are told that Noah, his wife, three sons, and their wives all entered into the ark.

Now, we have to recognize that Shem was not the oldest child, though he is often listed first. Instead, Japheth (the firstborn) is born to Noah when Noah is 500 years of age.

32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Gen. 5:32 KJV)

However, Shem is 100 years old 2 years AFTER the flood.

10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: (Gen. 11:10 KJV)

Now, according to Genesis 7:6, Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters began:

6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. (Gen. 7:6 KJV)

This means, based upon the chronology of both Japheth and Shem, that Shem was born (at the latest) when Noah was 502 years old and was (at the latest) only 2 years apart from Japheth, meaning Japheth would have been about 100 years old when the flood began. It would have to have meant that Ham was born the same distance as the other two (no later than 2 years).

This is where the statistic of 100 years would probably originate. However, that figure cannot lend toward the actual time it took to build the ark since there is absolutely no exegetical evidence to indicate the time to build the ark.

However, scripture seems to imply that when the commandment came to build the ark (during the countdown of 120 years) that Noah's children were old enough to have already married.

18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. (Gen. 6:18 KJV)

I think we would struggle to fit 100 years of building the ark into the scenario if the commandment to build came when all three children were married.

I hope that made sense...

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  • Unless of course the “your sons’ wives” is prophetic and a natural anticipation future events. For all we know they could have married on the very day they entered the ark, the Biblical text is silent on the matter and we are not free to impose our logic on the text. However I agree with your answer that there is no evidence that it was 100 or 120 years from the text either. +1, a great response in my view. – Nihil Sine Deo Sep 6 '19 at 1:38
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The book of Jasher chapter 5 verse 35 says, "In his five hundred and ninety fifth year Noah commenced to make the ark, and he made the ark in five years, as the Lord had commanded."

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We can calculate how long Noah take to build the ark by his age.

Gn 7.6 says Noah had 600 years old when he finished.

Gn 5.23 says he had 500 years old when he had his children.

He has built the ark in this mean time. I wouldn't say he has taken exactly 100 years, since the numbers seem rounded (he certainly didn't have his three children in the same year, for instance) and he didn't necessarily start building the ark in the same year his last child was born, but by the context, we can calculate he has taken about 100 years.

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  • I'm afraid I fail to see the exegetical evidence that he started building the ark at the same time as he had his children. Am I missing something? – anonymous2 Mar 29 '17 at 21:25
  • That assumes a lot without much to account for said assumptions. I follow the logic but it’s still a guess – Nihil Sine Deo Sep 6 '19 at 1:40
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There are three common misconceptions about Noah and the building of the ark.

  1. That based on verse three, it took Noah 120 years to build the ark.

  2. That only he and his sons participated in the building of the ark.

  3. That this instruction from the Lord to build the ark came when he was approximately 500 years old. In fact, God's instructions to Noah could have come only a few years before the flood. Chapter five verse 32 only says that he was 500 years old when he began to have children, not when he began to build the ark. Conservative estimates suggest anything from 5 to 20 years to build the ark using the Early Bronze Age technology that was available at the time and depending on how much outside help may have been enlisted. There is nothing in the biblical text to suggest that Noah and his sons built the ark alone. Noah could have hired other laborers to help with the construction. Others suggest that perhaps as much as 70 years would have been needed. There also does not seem to be sufficient textual evidence to suggest that Noah was given 120 for the building of the ark. The time span of 120 years relates to how much time man had before God destroyed the earth,

"My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

When Noah was told to build the ark all three of his sons appear to already be grown and married.

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Noha had 3 sons when he was five hundred and the flood came to the earth so gap time is hunders years according to bible jopath had 98years when flood came in that time noha's 3 sons had Marrage so i think it was take 60-75 years

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How long did Noah take building the ark?

NOAH TOOK ABOUT 40-50 YEARS TO BUILD THE ARK

All verses mentioned are noted below for reference.

When God decided to do away with the wicked humankind during Noah's time, Genesis 6:3 says that the decree was issued 120 years prior to the flood , at the time of the flood Genesis 7:6 says that Noah was 600 years old. Therefore at the time of the issuance of the decree, Noah was 480 years old, Noah was not informed by God of his decision until after he had three sons, which grew up and got married,Genesis 6:18.

Obviously time was required, during the 120 years Noah had a family which helped him build the ark, Genesis 5:32 says that Noah became a father at the age of 500 years , so it was 20 years after God decreed , that Noah and his wife decided to have children.

If we assume that by the age of 510 Noah had his three sons, then allowing for his sons to grow up and get married another 30 -50 years ,Noah would then be about 550 to 560 years old. It was at this time that Noah was informed to build the Ark , Genesis 6:18 says ," But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you." Read also Genesis 6:13-18 below

Conclusion

Since Noah was about 550 to 560 years old at the time that God made the covenant with him , and 600 year old at the time of the flood ,it is reasonable then to estimate that Noah took about 40-50 years to build the ark.

Genesis 6:3 (NASB)

3 "Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Genesis 5:32 (NASB)

32 "Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth."

Genesis 7:6 (NASB)

6 "Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.

13 "Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. 14 Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall [a]cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

16 "You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you."

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Genesis 6: 19 makes it very unlikely the Ark took anywhere near 100 years to build. Gen 5: 32 And Noah was 500 years old and Noah begot Shem, Ham and Japheth.

When they entered the Ark the three sons each had a wife. Gen 6:1 Now it came to pass... this suggests there was a passage of some time before God stated His plan to destroy ... "all flesh in which is the breath of life" Gen 6: 17.

Because of these references, it would not have been possible for Noah to have spent 100 years, let alone 120 years building the ark.

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  • I'm afraid I don't follow the logical chain of reasoning in this answer. Would you please clarify how those two references make it unlikely for the building to have taken 100 years? – anonymous2 Aug 12 '18 at 10:18

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