A beloved Bible tale, Noah’s Ark, has inspired the imagination of many. But one man took inspiration to a whole new level, building a life-sized replica of the biblical ship that he hopes to sail all the way to Israel.
Johan Huibers, a devout Christian from the Netherlands, has been fascinated by all things related to water from a young age. In his early 30s he dreamed that his province in the low-lying country was completely flooded and decided to take action. The result was the ark described in the Book of Genesis.
At first the building constructor and carpenter built an ark designed to fit into the Netherlands’ many canals. “I wanted to spread God’s word in the Netherlands,” he recently told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Everyone asked me: Why is it only half the size of the one in the Bible? So I sold the smaller one and built a life-sized one too.”
The life-sized ark took four years, seven people and nearly $5 million to build and was completed in 2013. Docked in the Netherlands, it has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors aboard over the years.
According to the Ark of Noah Foundation, “the Ark of Noah brings the experience of hope through the teachings of Jesus Christ to visitors worldwide.”
The pinewood ship is 95 feet wide, 410 feet long and 75 feet tall, and can hold more than 5,000 people on its five decks. It is currently closed to visitors because of disagreements with the local municipality, but it used to house a petting zoo and life-sized animal figures to give a sense of the biblical experience.
The only catch is that the boat doesn’t have a motor and needs to be tugged in order to sail anywhere, which is a very expensive venture. At the top of Huibers’ destination list is Israel.
“This is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land,” he told JTA. “I love the land, I love the country, I love the people,” he said. “They don’t obey, they do what they want, they drive like mad, shove while waiting in line and don’t listen to anyone. Just like me.”