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What was Noah's Ark and what has become of it?
Noah's Ark was a ship built by Noah on God's command. The ship held Noah and his family as well as two of every animal of the land and air which existed at that time, and seven pairs of every clean animal. The ship preserved the lives of all living aboard though the Great Flood, which lasted for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). The Ark came to rest on "the mountains of Arat," (Genesis 8:4).
The Bible provides the detailed account of what happened and why. What the scriptures do not explain is what became of the Ark after the flood.
We know from historical records that people have had an interest in the Ark since ancient times. Ancient Jewish texts from the centuries before Christ claim the Ark was looted, and the first century Roman historian Josephus mentioned the Ark in his writings. According to Josephus, the Ark was located in Armenia and its remains were often shown by the inhabitants there.
In more modern times, skepticism about the flood and the Ark has grown, leading to a claim that the flood and the Ark are myths. Some scholars point out the striking comparisons between the Ark in the Bible and a matching ark mentioned in the Sumerian tale, The Epic of Gilgamesh. The claim is that the Jews plagiarized the story from the Sumerians. However, there are many questions surrounding this claim, including the fact that the two stories are dissimilar in many ways, except for the fact that a flood wiped out most of humanity, and the dimensions of the Ark.
Skeptics also claim there is a lack of physical evidence for the flood and they question the scientific possibility of such an event.
Conversely, there are scientists who debate these facts, answering the skeptics with evidence of their own that the food actually occurred.
While the scholarly debate continues, Catholics should have no debate over the basics of the story; that God exists, God can work miracles and cause miraculous things to occur without need for scientific explanation, that we must have faith in God, and keep His Commandments. God saves those who are faithful to Him.
In more recent times, archaeologists have sought physical evidence for the Ark, in an effort to end the debate. It stands to reason that if physical evidence can be found, then even the toughest skeptics would have to concede.
So far, all evidence collected to date remains anecdotal, and not scientific. To count as scientific evidence, the proof would have to be tangible and testable, such as the ruins of the Ark itself, or an abundance of wood above the treeline that dates back to the time of Noah.
Many expeditions have been sent to search for the Ark. Several expeditions claim finding wood on the slopes of Mt. Arat above the treeline. At least one recent expedition in 2010 submitted samples for testing, but the results of scientific testing remain secret. Experts who saw the results, including several who argue the flood occurred, warn the results are inconsistent with the Ark.
Experts have also pointed out that Mt. Arat is a volcano that has erupted multiple times since the time of the Ark, and it is also covered in ice due to altitude. They also add that the Bible is unclear whether or not the Ark actually come to rest on Mt. Arat, or another mountain nearby.
Finally, there is no debate that thousands of years have passed since the time of the Ark and the present day. Given the fact the Ark was built of wood, the survival of any remains is unlikely.
The absence of evidence isn't proof of absence. Ancient sources speak of the Ark as a real thing known to people of the ancient world. The people of ancient times were not fools, nor unintelligent, they merely lived without modern conveniences.
For any person to claim the Ark did not exist, is a faith claim which requires as much belief as those who say it did.
If you would like to learn more about Noah's Ark, check out Explore the Bible in the Catholic Online School!
9 This is the story of Noah: Noah was a good man, an upright man among his contemporaries, and he walked with God.
10 Noah fathered three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 God saw that the earth was corrupt and full of lawlessness.
12 God looked at the earth: it was corrupt, for corrupt were the ways of all living things on earth.
13 God said to Noah, 'I have decided that the end has come for all living things, for the earth is full of lawlessness because of human beings. So I am now about to destroy them and the earth.
14 Make yourself an ark out of resinous wood. Make it of reeds and caulk it with pitch inside and out.
15 This is how to make it: the length of the ark is to be three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
16 Make a roof to the ark, building it up to a cubit higher. Put the entrance in the side of the ark, which is to be made with lower, second and third decks.
17 'For my part I am going to send the flood, the waters, on earth, to destroy all living things having the breath of life under heaven; everything on earth is to perish.
18 But with you I shall establish my covenant and you will go aboard the ark, yourself, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives along with you.
19 From all living creatures, from all living things, you must take two of each kind aboard the ark, to save their lives with yours; they must be a male and a female.
20 Of every species of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that creeps along the ground, two must go with you so that their lives may be saved.
21 For your part, provide yourself with eatables of all kinds, and lay in a store of them, to serve as food for yourself and them.'
22 Noah did this; exactly as God commanded him, he did.
1 Yahweh said to Noah, 'Go aboard the ark, you and all your household, for you alone of your contemporaries do I see before me as an upright man.
2 Of every clean animal you must take seven pairs, a male and its female; of the unclean animals you must take one pair, a male and its female
3 (and of the birds of heaven, seven pairs, a male and its female), to preserve their species throughout the earth.
4 For in seven days' time I shall make it rain on earth for forty days and forty nights, and I shall wipe every creature I have made off the face of the earth.'
5 Noah did exactly as Yahweh commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came, the waters over the earth.
7 Noah with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives boarded the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
8 (Of the clean animals and the animals that are not clean, of the birds and all that creeps along the ground,
9 one pair boarded the ark with Noah, one male and one female, as God had commanded Noah.)
10 Seven days later the waters of the flood appeared on earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, and on the seventeenth day of the month, that very day all the springs of the great deep burst through, and the sluices of heaven opened.
12 And heavy rain fell on earth for forty days and forty nights.
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13 That very day Noah and his sons Shem, Ham and Japheth boarded the ark, with Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons,
14 and with them every species of wild animal, every species of cattle, every species of creeping things that creep along the ground, every species of bird, everything that flies, everything with wings.
15 One pair of all that was alive and had the breath of life boarded the ark with Noah,
16 and those that went aboard were a male and female of all that was alive, as God had commanded him. Then Yahweh shut him in.
17 The flood lasted forty days on earth. The waters swelled, lifting the ark until it floated off the ground.
18 The waters rose, swelling higher above the ground, and the ark drifted away over the waters.
19 The waters rose higher and higher above the ground until all the highest mountains under the whole of heaven were submerged.
20 The waters reached their peak fifteen cubits above the submerged mountains.
21 And all living things that stirred on earth perished; birds, cattle, wild animals, all the creatures swarming over the earth, and all human beings.
22 Everything with the least breath of life in its nostrils, everything on dry land, died.
23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out, people, animals, creeping things and birds; they were wiped off the earth and only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
24 The waters maintained their level on earth for a hundred and fifty days.
1 But God had Noah in mind, and all the wild animals and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. God sent a wind across the earth and the waters began to subside.
2 The springs of the deep and the sluices of heaven were stopped up and the heavy rain from heaven was held back.
3 Little by little, the waters ebbed from the earth. After a hundred and fifty days the waters fell,
4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
5 The waters gradually fell until the tenth month when, on the first day of the tenth month, the mountain tops appeared.
6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark
7 and released a raven, which flew back and forth as it waited for the waters to dry up on earth.
8 He then released a dove, to see whether the waters were receding from the surface of the earth.
9 But the dove, finding nowhere to perch, returned to him in the ark, for there was water over the whole surface of the earth; putting out his hand he took hold of it and brought it back into the ark with him.
10 After waiting seven more days, he again released the dove from the ark.
11 In the evening, the dove came back to him and there in its beak was a freshly-picked olive leaf! So Noah realised that the waters were receding from the earth.
12 After waiting seven more days, he released the dove, and now it returned to him no more.
13 It was in the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, in the first month and on the first of the month, that the waters began drying out on earth. Noah lifted back the hatch of the ark and looked out. The surface of the ground was dry!
14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
15 Then God said to Noah,
16 'Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons' wives with you.
17 Bring out all the animals with you, all living things, the birds, the cattle and all the creeping things that creep along the ground, for them to swarm on earth, for them to breed and multiply on earth.'
18 So Noah came out with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives.
19 And all the wild animals, all the cattle, all the birds and all the creeping things that creep along the ground, came out of the ark, one species after another.
20 Then Noah built an altar to Yahweh and, choosing from all the clean animals and all the clean birds he presented burnt offerings on the altar.
21 Yahweh smelt the pleasing smell and said to himself, 'Never again will I curse the earth because of human beings, because their heart contrives evil from their infancy. Never again will I strike down every living thing as I have done.
22 As long as earth endures: seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.'
1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Breed, multiply and fill the earth.
2 Be the terror and the dread of all the animals on land and all the birds of heaven, of everything
that moves on land and all the fish of the sea; they are placed in your hands.
3 Every living thing that moves will be yours to eat, no less than the foliage of the plants. I give you everything,
4 with this exception: you must not eat flesh with life, that is to say blood, in it.
5 And I shall demand account of your life-blood, too. I shall demand it of every animal, and of man. Of man as regards his fellow-man, I shall demand account for human life.
6 He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God was man created.
7 Be fruitful then and multiply, teem over the earth and subdue it!'
8 God spoke as follows to Noah and his sons,
9 'I am now establishing my covenant with you and with your descendants to come,
10 and with every living creature that was with you: birds, cattle and every wild animal with you; everything that came out of the ark, every living thing on earth.
11 And I shall maintain my covenant with you: that never again shall all living things be destroyed by the waters of a flood, nor shall there ever again be a flood to devastate the earth.'
12 'And this', God said, 'is the sign of the covenant which I now make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come:
13 I now set my bow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds,
15 I shall recall the covenant between myself and you and every living creature, in a word all living things, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all living things.
16 When the bow is in the clouds I shall see it and call to mind the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth, that is, all living things.'
17 'That', God told Noah, 'is the sign of the covenant I have established between myself and all living things on earth.'
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