The Unforgettable Flood
ABOUT 4,300 years ago, a catastrophic deluge inundated the earth. In one gigantic sweep, it wiped out nearly every living thing. It was of such magnitude that it left an indelible impression on mankind, and each generation passed the story on to the next.
Some 850 years after the Flood, the Hebrew writer Moses put the account of the earth-wide Deluge into writing. It has been preserved in the Bible book of Genesis, where we can read the graphic details in Ge chapters 6 to 8.
Bible Account of the Flood
Genesis gives these details, obviously those of an eyewitness: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the deluge went on for forty days upon the earth, and the waters kept increasing and began carrying the ark and it was floating high above the earth. And the waters overwhelmed the earth so greatly that all the tall mountains that were under the whole heavens came to be covered.”—Genesis 7:11, 17, 19.
Concerning the Flood’s impact on living things, the Bible says: “All flesh that was moving upon the earth expired, among the flying creatures and among the domestic animals and among the wild beasts and among all the swarms that were swarming upon the earth, and all mankind.” However, Noah and seven other persons survived, along with a sampling of every beast, flying creature, and thing moving on the ground. (Genesis 7:21, 23) All had been preserved in a large floating ark that was about 437 feet [133 m] long, 73 feet [22 m] wide, and 44 feet [13 m] high. Since the only functions of the ark were that it be watertight and that it stay afloat, it had no rounded bottom, sharp bow, means of propulsion, or equipment for steering. Noah’s ark was simply a rectangular, chestlike vessel.
Five months after the Deluge began, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, situated in present-day eastern Turkey. Noah and his family went out of the ark onto dry land one year after the Flood had started and began anew the normal routine of life. (Genesis 8:14-19) In time, mankind had multiplied sufficiently to begin building the city of Babel and its infamous tower near the Euphrates River. From there people were gradually scattered to all parts of the earth when God confused the language of mankind. (Genesis 11:1-9) But what became of the ark?
Searching for the Ark
Since the 19th century, there have been numerous attempts to find the ark on the mountains of Ararat. These mountains have two prominent peaks, one 16,950 feet [5,165 m] high and the other 12,840 feet [3,914 m]. The higher of the two is perpetually covered by snow. Because of the climatic changes that followed the Flood, the ark would soon have been buried by snow. Some investigators firmly believe that the ark is still there, buried deep in a glacier. They claim that there have been periods when the ice melted sufficiently to permit part of the ark to be exposed temporarily.
The book In Search of Noah’s Ark quotes George Hagopian, an Armenian, who claimed that he climbed Mount Ararat and saw the ark in 1902 and again in 1904. On the first visit, he said, he actually climbed on top of the ark. “I stood up straight and looked all over the ship. It was long. The height was about forty feet [12 m].” Regarding his observation on his subsequent visit, he said: “I didn’t see any real curves. It was unlike any other boat I have ever seen. It looked more like a flat-bottomed barge.”
From 1952 to 1969, Fernand Navarra made four efforts to find evidence of the ark. On his third trip to Mount Ararat, he worked his way to the bottom of a crevasse in a glacier, where he found a piece of black wood embedded in the ice. “It must have been very long,” he said, “and perhaps still attached to other parts of the ship’s framework. I could only cut along the grain until I split off a piece about five feet [1.5 m] long.”
Professor Richard Bliss, one of several experts who examined the wood, said: “The Navarra wood sample is a structural beam and impregnated with bituminous pitch. It has mortise and tenon joints. And it’s definitely hand-hewn and squared.” The estimated age of the wood was set at about four or five thousand years.
Although efforts have been made to find the ark on Mount Ararat, the definite proof that it was used to survive a cataclysmic deluge exists in the written record of that event in the Bible book of Genesis. Confirmation of that record can be seen in the great number of flood legends among primitive peoples all over the world. Consider their testimony in the following article.
[Picture on page 4, 5]
The ark had a carrying capacity equal to that of 10 freight trains of about 25 American boxcars each!