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THE BIBLICAL FLOOD in perspective.

Coen van Wyk


Important notice and warning:As is the case with the rest of this book, any reference to God is intended to be exclusively to the God that man had created in his (man’s) image in the Bible. The “God” in the text therefore refers entirely to the figment of the imagination of primitive man of more than 2 000 years ago. Nothing contained in this book is therefore intended to be blasphemous, or is indeed blasphemous of the true Deity or Theity.

There came a time that God decided that he will wipe man and beast, reptiles and birds off the face of the earth (Gen. 6:6). He decided to do that with water.

But God also decided that he would save Noah and his sons and their wifes by commissioning the building of an ark. The vessel with three decks was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and with a height of 30 cubits.

Assuming that the cubits mentioned in the Bible are ancient Israel cubits that, according to an encyclopaedia (Collier’s Vol. 23) is 44.7cm, the ark’s dimensions of 300 by 50 by 30 in cubits, translate to 134 by 22 by 13 in metres. Some perspective on the size of the ark is gained by considering the fact that the Queen Elizabeth 2 is 294 metres in length. And even that huge ship would not have been large enough for the millions of animals that allegedly embarked on Noah’s floating zoo. 

Now it is known that there are many million of species of animals on earth and every species that is on earth now, was here at the time of the flood. Even evolution does not enter in to the equation because evolution simply does not operate to any noticeable extent in the time interval from the flood until the present moment.

According to the Bible the number of animals that Noah was ordered to take on board the ark is seven pairs of ritually clean animal and one pair of unclean animals.

We therefore have the following estimates of the creepy-crawlies, goggas, hairy-scaries, nunus, man-eaters, man-crushers, and all other types of man-killing, man-maiming, man-gobbling, man-chasing, man-scaring creatures that shared the ark with the eight that were chosen by God to sail the ark into history, and into the Bible.

To give some idea of the life forms that accompanied Noah on his journey, I will now deal very briefly with the different types of animals for whom the ark became a sojourn for nearly a year.

The arachnids are a group of 70 000 species of animals. They are not insects, have eight legs, and include 30 000 species of spiders, 700 species of scorpions, and no fewer than 20 000 species of ticks and mites. So, if Noah and his entourage of seven other people were required to muster anything between 140 000 and 980 000 hairy, scary, biting, stinging, sucking goggas into the ark, the question is: how did they communicated with these scary animals.

The bigger creepy crawlies that joined Noah on his cruise included 6 000 species of slithering animals that include the largest lizard, being the formidable komodo dragon, all the geckos, flying lizards, chameleons, and plethora of snakes.

On the topic of snakes I mention that one encyclopaedia (Britannica) mentions that there are approximately 3 000 different species of snakes and another (Collier’s) that there are some 2 400. So, there were at least 4 800 snakes on the Ark. As regards the snakes, there was good news, and there was bad news. The good news was that only approximately 500 species of the snakes were venomous. Therefore, only 1 000 venomous snakes shared the ark with Noah and his loved ones. The bad news, however, is that some of the non venomous snakes would eat you alive without poisoning you, and the rest may scare you to death if you come across one, or more, of them. An interesting fact is that the anaconda that can reach 8 metres in length gives birth to live offspring and can produce as many as 75 live slithering cute little babies. They are approximately a metre long at birth. But there are several species of anaconda. So there were several pairs of these creatures on the ark. Be it as it may, even if only two anacondas got on board, Noah may, in due course, have had some 77 anacondas on his boat after an female gave birth to her metre long babies. 

But then we have the heavyweights, being the elephants (Indian and African), rhinos (black and white), wildebeest, buffalos (African forest buffalo, Cape buffalo, Asian water buffalo, anoa of Celebes, and the tamarau in the Philippines), caribou, Eurasian reindeer, ostriches, kiwis, jackasses, emus, camels, sheep, horses, asses, mustangs, impalas, antelope, bears (polar bears, brown bears, grizzly bears, black bears, sun bears, spectacled bears, koala bears, sloth bears, etc.), bison (America bison and European bison), wolves, coyotes, jackal, hyenas, African wild dogs, dingoes, kangaroos, warthogs, wild pigs, domesticated pigs, cows, sheep. etc.

But what did Noah and his team do with the hippopotamuses, and variety of crocodile types which include, caiman, gavial, Siamese crocodiles, spectacled caiman, and other members of the crocodile family? The crocodiles could not be kept in the ark for approximately a year without being lifted out of the ark regularly for an excursion into the water followed by sunbathing with gaping mouths on the roof of the ark.

There were also some 900 species of bats to be accommodated in the (not so large) wooden boat. Some of them eat insects and some of them eat meat. And at two pairs of each species there would have been 1 800 bats roaming the ark; and at seven pairs per species, 12 600. I must say that approximately 2 000 bats flopping around in my living quarters, is not a pleasant thought. More than 12 000 is truly unacceptable. And my wife would agree with me!

As regards cats, the term refers to Felidae, a large mammal family containing 34 species of cats. This topic deserves special consideration in this discussion. Seven pairs of cats per species calculate to 476 cats (all with big claws and large teeth) lurking in the ark for approximately a year. And they all eat meat. And “warm blooded animals with hair, mammary glands, etc.” perfectly fit the description of their diet and gastronomic delights. And Noah and all his companions were “warm blooded animals with hair, mammary glands, etc.”. They were therefore also on the menu of the Felidae.

And then we have the birds; at least 8 600 species of them. Which means that the hapless group of eight people shared the Ark with more than 120 000 birds, complete with a full complement of lice, and who alleviate themselves much more than once a day.

Mention should also be made to the 100 species of monkeys, six baboon species, guerrillas, skunks, walruses, elephant seals, turtles, wild boars, gibbons,, lemmings, 200 species of shrews, 500 types of rats (which includes the 37 cm long pouched rat, to name but a few of many.

The following table gives an idea of he make-up of the ark population:

Animal Type

Number of species

Total for 2 pairs

Total for 7 pairs

Flat worms

        10 000

        20 000

       70 000

Ribbon worms



         3 850

Spiny headed worms



         2 100

Round worms

        10 000

        20 000

       70 000

Segmented worms

          6 200

        12 400

       43 400

Hair worms




Walking worms




Arrow worms




Tongue worms




Beard worms




Peanut worms



         1 750


          6 500

        13 000

     455 000

Garden centipedes



         1 190


          1 700

          3 400

       11 900


      750 000

   1 500 000



          6 000

        12 000

       42 000

Frogs Toads

          2 500

          5 000

       17 500


          8 600

        17 200

       60 200

Warm blooded animals

with hair, mammary glands, etc.

          3 500

          7 000

       24 500



      798 018

   1 596 036

  5 586 126


As regards the logistics, one needs to bear in mind that there may have been more than 24 000 warm-blooded animals on board the ark. And some of them eat meat. And some of them eat vegetation. And many of them eat one another. And a lot of them would even eat Noah and his entourage of loved ones. During the period 17 February  (when the ark was boarded) to 27 February of the following year (when the ark was vacated), all those on board had to eat. That meant that enough vegetation to feed at least 14 guerrillas, 28 bison, 28 elephants, 28 rhinos, 14 buffalos, 14 giraffes, 14 hippos, and more than 500 antelope, to name but some of many of the vegetarians that had to be fed by Noah, had to be loaded on board the ark.

To give an idea of the catering required for the journey, one might consider the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. This 333 metre long vessel accommodates 5 500 people who consume 20 000 meals per day. But none of those on board the USS Nimitz consume the quantity of food that the likes of guerrillas, bison, elephants, and rhinos consume. In stocking the Nimitz with supplies, use is made of facilities such as cranes and fork lifter machines. Noah and his companions had none of these facilities available for loading the supplies needed for the long journey. It would be interesting to find out how Noah preserved the vegetation for a period of more than a year.

But there were also a number of animals with rather special requirements. There were no flowers on the ark. That put the honeybees out of business. Nectar also needed to be provided during the journey for the honeyeaters, and the hummingbirds. It would be interesting to find out how Noah catered for the nectar needs of the nectar eaters for more than a year.

There were more than 500 meat-eating cats, wolves, dogs, bears, hyenas, etc. To get a rough estimate of what was required for these carnivores, I will work on the assumption that they were each put on a lean diet of one antelope per week. That would mean that an additional 25 000 antelope, and the vegetation that they would eat before they are themselves eaten, would have to be loaded for the journey.

Another enigma concerns the procurement, and preservation of fish for fish-eaters such as penguins.

When it comes to the nutritional requirements of the insects, the numbers of which runs into the several millions, the mind boggles and I am dumbfounded.

The question that arises is how Noah prevented the animals from feeding on each other, and Noah and his family, and the animals that were brought on board for the preservation of the species.

Apart from the crocodiles and hippos, that required water, there were other animals on board the ark that also needed special attention. One example is the temperature requirements of animals such as polar bears and penguins. How did Noah create cool conditions for these creatures? And how did he create the conditions necessary for all the bears to hibernate?

I will now consider the fate of the plants and aquatic life. It is clear (Gen20;8) that “the mountains were covered to a depth of 15 cubits”. That means that even Mount Everest was under approximately 7 metres of water. According to an encyclopaedia (Collier’s) the average depth of all oceans is approximately 12 500 ft. which calculates to 3 810 metres. The highest mountain (Everest) is 8 850 metres high. The water of the flood therefore more than tripled the average depth of the oceans by adding nearly 9 000 metres of fresh water to the water of the oceans. That must surely have killed a number of (if not all) seawater creatures. Those life forms that were not killed by the shock of the sudden change in the chemical composition (salinity) of the water, would have been killed by the pressure caused by the layer of water of approximately 9 000 metres. But what did it do to the plants on earth?

The plants on earth were submerged for approximately ten months. That is clear from the following words of (Gen 5;8): “…On the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains could be seen”. During the period of approximately ten months the plants were inter alia deprived of sunlight. The process of photosynthesis, vital for the plants’ survival, was therefore impossible. Therefore, with very few (if any) exceptions, the plants on earth should have been exterminated by the flood. And yet, when on occasion, Noah released a dove, she returned with a newly plucked olive leaf in her beak. Now where did she find the live olive tree, from which she could pluck the leaf, thereafter to return to the ark like a champion homer pigeon?

But at this juncture I need to return to the issue of the giants that allegedly existed on earth before the flood. In that regard the New English Bible states the following (Ex.6:4):

“In those days when the sons of the gods had intercourse with the daughters of men and got children by them, the Nephilim (giants) were on earth.”

Now it is clear from Gen. 7:21 that “Every living creature that moved on earth perished”. That obviously included the giants.  But lo! It appears that after the flood the Nephilim were back. That is clear from the following contents of Numbers 13;33: “When we set eyes on the Nephilim … we felt no bigger than grasshoppers; and that is how we looked to them.”. How did these giants (or their predecessors survive the flood?

But I now come to the question of a very smelly nature. Having previously dealt with the nutritional requirements of the animals on the ark, I now deal with the other end of the equation. In other words, where the question previously was how Noah got all the goodies on board that had to go into the one end of the animals (that is their mouths), how did they deal with the stuff that came out the other end? I’m talking about the, mainly brown smelly stuff, otherwise known as poo. There were between 1.5 and 5.5 million animals on board the ark and all of them ate food and all of them excreted the products of digestion. And there were only eight human beings that had to eject the smelly stuff from the ark. That really makes one stink. Oops! Think.