Genesis 6-9, Exodus 26:15-30, 1Kings 2:11. Leviticus 12:1
Luke 3:21-23, Matthew 24: 37-44, John 10:9, 1Peter 3: 18-22
"The Ark of Salvation"
"As were the days of Noah,
so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
For as in those days before the flood
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they did not know until the flood came
and swept them all away,
so will the coming of the Son of Man be."
"I am the door;
if anyone enters by Me,
he will be saved..."
When I started to create graphic images of Moses' Tabernacle, I was
struck by the visual similarities between the boards of the Tabernacle
and Noah's ark. The more I thought about this curious connection, it
occurred to me that it may be much more than coincidental, especially
when I realized the unique mathematic relationship that may exist between
the two objects.
Moses gives detailed descriptions and dimensions for the Tabernacle
items, but for some reason he refrained from giving us the length of
the two tenons and the depth of the boards. If the tenons were 1 cubit
tall and the board depth was 0.9 cubits, the viewable portion (not covered
by the silver bases) of the Tabernacle's boards would be exact miniaturized
replicas of Noah's ark at a scale of 1 to 33.333.... (Click
here for a technical study of the Tabernacle I developed, in which
I more fully develop the logic behind these dimensions).
33 is an interesting number, Scripturally speaking. Consider the following:
When the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that
she was to become the Mother of the Christ, he underscored the Davidic
promise, saying, "And the Lord God will give to him the throne
of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever."
King David reigned in Jerusalem (the City of Peace) for exactly 33
years, according to 1Kings 2:11. Poetically, the long awaited "Son
of David" picks up where His "father" (by lineage)
left off after 33 years, beginning His reign from the wood of His
Following the precise instructions of Leviticus 12, the Blessed Mother
presented her first (and only) Son at the Temple exactly 33 days after
His circumcision. On that day she was told by Simeon that the Child
would be opposed, and a sword would pierce her heart as a result.
Interestingly, the Law prescribed 66 days of purification for the
birth of a girl and 33 for a boy before a child was presented. Go
figure. Does God really think little boys are "two times cleaner"
than little girls, or does He want us to scratch our heads and ask,
"What's the significance of these 33 days?" It seems to
me that this presentation of the 33-day-old Jesus in the Temple is
a foreshadowing of what was to come 33 years later. Mary's heart was
pierced as she stood at the foot of the cross, completely abandoned
to the will of God, watching her precious Son breathe His final agonizing
breaths to accomplish our Redemption.
Finally, Jesus was crucified at the age of 33, after 3 years of ministry
which followed his baptism at age 30. As I point out in the image,
between Christmas (December 25) and the latest possible Easter (April
25, determined by lunar phases) there is exactly 4 months or 1/3 of
a year, which brings the fullest possible "liturgical age"
of Jesus at the time of His crucifixion to 33.333.
Could the Holy Spirit be indicating that after 33.333 years the Messiah's
side would be pierced, providing a doorway into the Ark of Salvation?
Many will object, saying that this is purely speculative. After all,
I have no archeological "proof" that the tenons were 1 cubit
in length. Of course, neither does the objector have "proof"
to the contrary. And even if you can't accept my 1-cubit-tenon hypothesis,
the length of the entire board (including tenons) IS known, producing
a relationship of 1 to 30 in the length and 1 to 33.333 in the width.
Since Jesus was baptized at age 30 and crucified at age 33, the connection
is still very strong. Christian baptism, according to Saint Paul, is
associated with death, burial and resurrection. And Saint Peter clearly
ties the Sacrament of Baptism to Noah's ark, saying, "God's patience
waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which
a few, that is, eight, persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which
corresponds to this, now saves you..." (1Peter 3:18-22)
More connections exist between the Tabernacle and Noah's Ark. Consider
The Tabernacle boards are made to form a house around the "ARK"
of the Covenant. Why did God call this sacred box an "ark"?
It's a fair question. Could it be that the Lord intends for us to
ponder some connection between the Tabernacle and Noah's boat? I think
The Tabernacle was set up, and it was covered by its curtains for
the first time on the first day of the first month (Ex. 40:1), just
as Noah removed the Ark's covering on the first day of the first month
(Gen. 8:13). On the same day, one is uncoverd, while the other is
covered, just as Christ Jesus was stripped bare at His crucifixion,
so that we might be clothed with His righteousness.
God commanded Moses, whose name means "taken out of the water",
to build the Tabernacle. Recall the story of Moses being placed in
a basket on the Nile by his mother, and how he led the people through
the waters of the Red Sea. This is, of course, reminiscent of Noah,
who was commanded to build the Ark for "passing over" the
flood waters. What, you might ask, did Jesus build? "Upon this
Rock", He said to Peter, "I will build My Church."
The Church, in turn, is the administrator of the Seven Sacraments,
but particularly of baptism in this context.
The Tabernacle's 48 boards were carried, according to Numbers 7:8,
by the sons of Merari and their 4 covered wagons (which would be 12
boards per wagon). Think of the poetic meaning of 12 "mini-arks"
passing over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, with Joshua
at the head. Remember that Jesus (Jeshua in Hebrew) was baptized in
the Jordan, then crucified at the time of Passover. He is the true
Paschal Sacrifice, who brings trusting souls into the Promised Land
of spiritual vitality and carries them over the waters of death into
After 40 days of the ark resting on Mount Ararat, Noah sent out doves
to determine if the waters had receded. The first returned with nothing.
The second returned with an olive branch. The third never returned,
indicating that the earth was dry. At Jesus' baptism, John the Baptist
recognized Him to be the Christ when the Holy Spirit rested upon Him
in the form of a dove. Immediately after His baptism, our Lord was
tempted by the devil during His 40-day fast. We may further consider
the connections between Jesus and the Garden of Olives. Keep in mind
also that Moses received the Covenant Tablets, which were to be placed
in the Ark, after 40 days on the Mountain. It's all connected.
For those left asking, "Why would God hide these secrets in
the Tabernacle like some kind of a puzzle?", consider that there
seem to be "hidden" references to Noah's ark in Solomon's
Temple as well. The ark was built in three stories, as were the side
chambers of the Temple. In Ezekiel's vision of the Temple, he indicates
other buildings that consisted of three stories. Two of these buildings,
which were chambers where the priests would eat their portions of
the sacrifices, measured 100x50 cubits each. Two other adjacent buildings
(eating chambers for the laity) measured 50x50 cubits each. Oddly
enough, if you add these 4 buildings together you end up with a 300x50
cubit building in three stories, just like Noah's ark (and both, by
the way, are stocked with life-saving food). Strange but true.
I guess I shouldn't think it too strange that the God who founded the
entire Universe on the mathematical principles of physics should use
the language of mathematics to declare something about the very Cornerstone
of that Universe, Christ Crucified.
It should be noted that there are elements in this image
which belong to the theoretical realm, especially the mathematical relationships
between the Tabernacle, Noah's Ark, and the Crucifixion. However, the
theological reflections contained here are quite sound (at least to
the best of my ability). Click
here to read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches regarding
Christian baptism, for instance, and how it was prefigured by Noah's
Ark. If you don't care for my tenon-length hypotheses, that's fine;
but be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water.
Is it "dangerous" to contemplate things that
are not specifically spelled out in Scripture? Not if you keep a level
head and stay grounded in the foundational teachings of the Church.
Saint Augustine, writing in his Enchiridion about the nature
of angels, once said, "To ask such questions as these, and to guess
at the answers as one can, is not a useless exercise in speculation,
so long as the discussion is moderate and one avoids the mistake of
those who think they know what they do not know."
In keeping with Saint Augustine's wise advice, I readily
admit the hypothetical nature of some elements in this contemplative
image. I can't KNOW for certain that the Tabernacle's boards were miniaturized
representations of Noah's Ark. That being said, I do think a relatively
strong argument can be built for this intriguing theory. Click
here for a technical study of the Tabernacle I developed, in which I
more fully develop the logic behind these dimensions of the Tabernacle's
Feel free to e-mail
me with any comments, or visit my main site here.