Different Reconstructions of Noah’s Family

The front of the Ark at the Ark Encounter. It is good to be reminded of how massive the Ark was.

My family and I visited the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum recently. We went to a homeschool conference that was held at the Ark Encounter, but we were able to see the Museum, too. (By the way, the conference was terrific! We got to hear talks from Ken Ham, Michael Farris, Heidi St. John, and Kirk Cameron, as well as attend hands-on labs, presentations, and tours of the Ark.) A little bit of history is relevant to what I am about to say. The Creation Museum first opened in 2007 while the Ark Encounter opened in 2016. Both attractions are part of Answers in Genesis and they both have a similar relevance. The Creation Museum is an attraction that shows the history of the World from a Biblical worldview, starting with Genesis. The Ark Encounter is an attraction that shows the historicity of the Flood account as described in Genesis.

Since the Creation Museum came first, it includes a room with displays about Noah’s Ark and the Flood. Among these displays is a recreation of Noah’s family. In the Ark Encounter, there is a much larger recreation of Noah’s family, including an entire display of their living quarters on the Ark.

I want to begin with the reconstruction of Noah’s family as seen at the Ark Encounter. The following picture shows Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives.

Noah and his family as seen at the Ark Encounter.

In case you are wracking your brain trying to remember which verse gives Noah’s wife’s name and the names of the son’s wives, there isn’t one. These four women are mentioned but they are never named in scripture. The names given on the sign and in the displays are taken from traditions. The people at Answers in Genesis are very open about their reconstructions: there are a lot of details about the Ark that are simply not given in the Bible. Yet, in order to make the Ark as realistic as possible, they needed to fill in these gaps. To do so, they drew upon reasonable extra-Biblical accounts and practical application. It is clearly explained that the names of the women are not from the Bible, but to give them more realism, they are named in the exhibits.

What I want to focus on is the appearance of the wives. Note that the three sons look roughly like each other. They are, after all, brothers. The wives, however, differ notably from one another. In fact, we can almost see specific ethnicities in each one of them. Ar’yel looks middle eastern. Kezia looks African with a little bit of typical middle east features. Rayneh looks European. The reason for these different appearances is because we know which nation came from each couple. Genesis 10 details the descendants of Noah. Shem’s descendants (and hence, Ar’yel’s descendants as well) include the Hebrews and other nations from the Middle East and Asia minor. Hence Ar’yel’s appearance. The descendants of Ham and Kezia includes Canaan, the Amorites, Egyptians, as well as some nations south of Egypt. Hence Kezia’s appearance. The descendants of Japheth and Rayneh includes people who lived in Cyprus and southern Spain, as well as some from Asia minor.

You can see how a lot of speculation and inference went into the appearance of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives, but they are inferences based on what we know about them and their descendants.

Now, let us look at the reconstruction of these same people as seen in the Creation Museum.

Noah and his family as seen at the Creation Museum.

Noah and his wife are on the left front and they are talking to their sons and their wives. Notice that the sons are not as similar to each other as they are in the Ark Encounter: there is more noticeable variation between them. The wives are not the same either. The wife in the back right looks similar to Rayneh in the Ark Encounter, but the other two are not noticeably like Ar’yel and Kezia.

It is my guess that the Noah’s family in the reconstruction at the Creation Museum were simply given noticeable variations to represent many different types of people groups. There was perhaps a little less attention to who were the descendants of these people. In that sense, the reconstruction of Noah and his family at the Creation Museum is “less accurate” than their appearances at the Ark Encounter. Does that make their reconstructions at the Creation Museum “wrong?” I don’t think we can say that. Both reconstructions require speculation. Since we know nothing about Noah’s sons’ wives from the Bible, both reconstructions are equally speculative. My guess is that their appearance at the Ark Encounter is better, but I still like the one at the Creation Museum, simply because it better highlights the diversity of people on the Ark, and hence their descendants after they left the Ark.

The point I am trying to make is that neither reconstruction is more wrong than the other, neither is more right. They both reflect what little we know about Noah and his family. The Ark Encounter reconstructions draws more on tradition and focuses on the known descendants of each son and wife. The Creation Museum reconstruction focuses more on the diversity of people groups that came from the Ark, highlighting our common descent from Noah and his family. Both reconstruction, while different from one another, tell the same story. We only need to remember that neither reconstruction is authoritative as they are both based on the reasoning of humans.

Thoughts from Steven

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