Genesis 6:16 continues God’s instructions to Noah regarding the building of the ark. In the previous verse, he laid out the size of the ark. In this verse, he lays out three unique details. He talks about the roof, the door, and the three decks. The verse says, “Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.” This ship is to have a roof! It was a big box in a way. The people and animals within were protected from the torrential rains that would fall for a long time! Many think that the phrase “a cubit above” in this verse means a gap between the main body of the boat and the roof enabling fresh air and ventilation. Kidner says regarding the cubit phrase, “…an opening of this depth was to be left near the roof, as in some buildings of the Ancient Near East, perhaps running right around the vessel.”[1] It would also allow for light to come into the Ark.

The door is an integral part of this construction. It could only be opened from the outside, according to most commentators, and that’s why we see that the text says God is the one that closed them in and let them out. When Jesus talked about the sheepfold, he referred to himself as the “door” for the sheep. The only way to get into the fold is through the door, and it looks as Jesus claims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the father but through me.” It also brings to my mind the vision Jacob had in Genesis about a ladder reaching into heaven. Depending on the translation, it refers to something like a door from this realm to the spiritual realm where God dwells and sits enthroned. Jesus could tell Nathaniel that the angels ascend and descend from and to heaven on himself. Again, he was referring to the only way in and out is through faith in himself. The religious leaders killed him for this blasphemy.

The ark would have three decks. One ancient Jewish commentator says, “Make it with bottom, second, and third decks. The top deck for the people, the middle deck for the animals to live, and the bottom deck for the dung.”[2] Regardless of what was on the three decks, we can see that the ark’s capacity would be enormous. It was no mindless project built by a caveman. Leupold says, “A Dutchman, Peter Janson, in 1609–21 made a novel experiment in building a vessel thus proportioned and thus satisfying himself both of its seaworthiness as well of its relatively high storage capacity. But a bit of reflection might have satisfied almost any man of the seaworthiness of such a box. Furthermore, the enormity of the project harmonizes well with other huge enterprises carried through by men of antiquity and argues well for the high intelligence and the wonderful capabilities of antediluvian man—a fact, which clashes rather roughly with the conceptions of evolution.”[3]

[1] Kidner, Derek. 1967. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 1. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Carasik, Michael, ed. 2018. Genesis: Introduction and Commentary. Translated by Michael Carasik. The Commentators’ Bible. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

[3] Leupold, H. C. 1942. Exposition of Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.