We read in the Bible how, at the end of the Great Flood, the Ark came to rest on the
mountains of Ararat (which some identify as the Armenian Highlands). Since the Torah
doesn’t ascribe any intrinsic holiness to Noah’s Ark, it is not at all
surprising that once Noah left it, there isn’t any real discussion about what
happened to it. Yet, throughout the ages, the location of Noah’s Ark has been a
subject of fascination, with some even claiming to have found it.
the Ark may not have survived until the present day, the Talmud and Midrash
assert that it was still in existence thousands of years after the Great Flood.
the Book of II Kings we read that Sennacherib, King of Assyria, dwelt in
Nineveh after is armies were destroyed in the siege of Jerusalem: “He was prostrating himself in the temple of Nisroch,
his god, and Adramelech and Sharezer, his sons, slew him with a sword, and they
fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon reigned in his stead.”
upon this, the Talmud explains that “Nisroch” is linked to the word neser, “beam,” and refers to a beam from
When Sennacherib found a beam from the Ark, he proclaimed, “This must be the
great god that saved Noah from the Flood!” He then addressed the beam-deity and
pledged, “If I go to war and am victorious, I will offer my two sons as a
sacrifice before you!” His sons overheard this and decided to kill him.
Josephus, in his work Antiquities
of the Jews, claimed to have known the whereabouts of Noah’s Ark and quoted
earlier historians (including the 3rd
century BCE Berosus the Chaldean) as saying that people would
take parts of the Ark to use as amulets to ward off evil.
A little less than 200
years after Sennacherib,
story of Purim, Haman
built a gallows “50 cubits high” (approximately 75 feet) with the intention of
hanging Mordechai upon it. One tradition in the Midrash
tells us that one of Haman’s children was the governor of the province where
Noah’s Ark was located, and he provided Haman with a beam from the Ark, which
was 50 cubits wide.
Why Did the Ark Survive?
sings in Psalms that G‑d makes “a
memorial for His wonders”
so that people remember His miracles and sing His praise. The commentaries
explain that this is why
remnants of the Ark were preserved.
was divinely orchestrated that Haman use wood from the Ark to build the gallows
that he himself would ultimately be hung on. For the same wood that was used to
save the remnants of humanity was once again used to save the Jewish people.