How Long Was Noah on the Ark?

by | Nov 7, 2023 | History | 0 comments

The story of Noah’s flood is perhaps one of the most famous Bible stories. It attracts both awe and criticism in equal measure. There are many intrigues surrounding the story including how the ark was built, the number of people on board, how Noah gathered the different species, etc. But one of the most frequently asked questions is how long Noah stayed on the ark. 

So how long was Noah in the ark? The chronological events that are recorded in the story of Noah reveal that he was on the ark for a little over a year – possibly 382 days. This figure is derived from the 7 days that he entered the ark prior to the flood and the one year that passed from the start to the end of the flood. 

There are several ideas explaining how long Noan was on the ark. The first thought is that he was on the ark for 40 days. This is based on the scripture that says the flood happened because it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. 

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. Genesis 7:4

But this scripture doesn’t give the duration of Noah on the ark. On the contrary, it gives the duration of the actual rain. Since the rain resulted in flooding, there is no way the floods would have cleared on the same day it stopped raining. In other words, Noah must have spent more than 40 days on the ark.

Another idea is that Noah was on the ark for 150 days. The following scriptures inform this:

And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. Gen. 7:24

And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters decreased. Genesis. 8:3

Again, this is inaccurate because it does not account for all the days. For instance, just adding the 40 days of rain would bring the total number to at least 190. But there are other important factors to consider in order to calculate the exact time that Noah spent on the ark. 

  • Entering the ark – from Genesis, it is clear that Noah entered the ark seven days before the rain started (Genesis 7:4)

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. Genesis 7:4

  • Begin of the flood – seven days after boarding the ark, the flood began. The Bible records that the rains began on the 17th day of the second month when Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:11).

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11).

  • End of the flood – the Bible gives the exact date of the time the flood ended. It was on the 27th day of the second month of the year that Noah turned 601 years old. 

And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth . . . and in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried (Genesis 8:13,14).

From the chronology above, it is clear that Noah spent at least one year on the ark. Let us look at the events in more detail below.

Calculating the Number of Days Noah Was On the Ark

Determining the length of time Noah was on the ark calls for looking carefully at the dates provided in the story with their corresponding events. As we have already seen, the rains started on the 17th day of the second month of the year that Noah turned 600. The scripture also says that the floods ended on the 27th day of the second month of the year that Noah turned 601. Based on these dates, it is clear that Noah was on the ark for the equivalent of one lunar calendar year. More precisely, he was in the ark for one year and 10 days (375 days).

But we also have to factor in the additional days that Noah was in the ark before the floods actually began. We know from scripture that God commanded Noah to enter the ark 7 days in advance. This gave Noah enough time to settle in with the family before the floods commenced. So, if we add the additional 7 days, we can infer that Noah was in the ark for a total of one year and 17 days (382 days). 

Significance of the Days Spent on the Ark

There are three important sets of dates in the story of Noah and each of these have their unique symbolisms. The first is the waiting time. God asked Noah to wait for 7 days in the ark for the rains to come. The number seven signifies completeness or fullness. It is the number associated with the phrase “the fullness of time.” In the case of Noah, the 7 days marked the fulfillment of the word Noah had been preaching to his countrymen for years. Even though they laughed him off, the warnings that he had been giving them all those years were finally coming to pass. 

Another important number is the 40 days of rain. In the scriptures, the number 40 signifies new life, transformation, and growth. This is why Jesus went into a 40-day fast before beginning his earthly ministry. The fact that the flood water came for 40 days is symbolic because the floods were sent to kill every living thing that was not in the ark. That way, new life would emerge on earth after the flood. 

Lastly, Noah was in the ark for a year. The Hebrew word for year (Shanah) loosely translates to repetition or revolution. This is significant because Noah can be looked at as another Adam. The flood was a revolution that would result in a repetition of the command to multiply that was originally given to Adam. 

Conclusion

In summary, the duration of Noah’s time on the ark is a total of one year and 17 days or 382 days. These periods hold symbolic significance within the biblical narrative. The initial seven days in the ark represent the fulfillment of Noah’s warnings and the fullness of time. The subsequent 40 days of rain signify transformation and the emergence of new life after the flood. The entire year Noah spent on the ark echoes a cycle, akin to the story of Adam, reinforcing the divine command to multiply and repopulate the earth.

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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