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Noah's Ark

In the Bible, Noah's ark was a boat that God commanded Noah to build to keep himself, his family and a core breeding stock of the world’s animals safe from the impending flood. The phrase Noah’s Ark is also used as the title of the story of Noah and the Ark, found in Genesis chapters 6-9.

The ark was built of cypress wood and covered with pitch, 300 cubits (about140m) long, 50 cubits (about 23m) wide, and 30 cubits (about14m) high. Traditional pictures of the ark typically show something shaped like a boat. The directions given by God appear to be for an oblong three-storey structure, with a door in the side and a window in the roof.

In the ark were Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives. They also took seven pairs of each kind of clean animal, two pairs of each kind of unclean animal and seven pairs of each kind of bird. The ark kept them safe for the forty days of rainfall and about another year until the flood waters receded. When Noah was satisfied that the Earth was dry again, he left the Ark, and God made a covenant with him, in which he promised never to flood the Earth again, and imposed a basic set of laws on humanity.

Although many cultures have stories of a great flood, the story of Noah’s Ark is probably the best-known of these. The next most notable is the Sumerian story of Utnapishtim (found in the Epic of Gilgamesh) which has broadly the same structure and plot as Noah’s Ark, suggesting that the Biblical account has drawn influence from the the older Sumerian depiction. Noah also has a counterpart in Greek mythology, Deucalion.

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