Noah is an iconic figure in the Bible who is known for his righteousness and faith. After God decided to destroy the world with a flood because of how sinful humanity had become, he called Noah to build an ark. The ark’s was to save Noah, his family, and animals from the floodwaters to start a new world when the deluge dissipated. Many readers are curious to know how long Noah was on the ark.
Noah was on the ark for over a year. Many Genesis scholars believe that the flood lasted 370 or 371 days, depending on if the last day is included. However, God told Noah to board the ark one week before the flood’s start, which means he would have been onboard for 377 or 378 days.
What numbers in the flood story add up to 370 or 371? Why do some people believe Noah was in the ark for 40 days? Why do some scholars think he was in the ark for 372 days? What do well-known Genesis commentaries and Study Bibles teach about this? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see How Old Was Noah When He Built the Ark? to learn more.
How long did the Flood last?
Whether Noah was on the ark for a total of 377 days or 378 days (or even 372 days; more below) doesn’t change the meaning of the story. In a world full of moral wickedness and unrelenting violence (Gen. 6:5, 11), Noah found favor with God because he was righteous, blameless, and walked with his Creator (Gen. 6:9). God graciously spared Noah because of his faith (Heb. 11:7).
However, since the flood story (Gen. 6-9) includes several numbers that date certain moments of the flood and other figures that count the days between certain events, readers aren’t misguided to try to figure out the total number of days Noah was on the ark. After all, it’s never wrong to try to understand what the Bible reveals (2 Tim. 2:15).
The argument for Noah being on the ark for 378 days or 371 days comes from the data that Genesis provides, which is chronologically arranged in the table below. Both views believe the flood story teaches that months were 30-days in length. Both views also interpret key verses in the same way.
So why are the views one day off? For most people who hold to a 378-day stay or a 370-day stay for Noah, the difference is whether or not they include the last day in their calculation.
Also see How Long Did It Take Noah to Build the Ark? to learn more.
Total days of the flood, total days on the ark
The key to understanding the difference between the “flood days” and the “ark days” on the table below is knowing that God told Noah to board the vessel one week before the floodwaters appeared on the earth. The dates provided are either mentioned in the narrative or they are based on calculations using stated years, months, and days.
|Genesis||Flood Days||Ark Days||Date|
|“Then the Lord said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and all your household” (Gen. 7:1) because “in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen. 7:4).||0||1||2/10/600|
|“In the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” (Gen. 7:11)||1||7||2/17/600|
|“And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Gen. 7:12)||40||–||3/27/600|
|“And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.” (Gen. 7:24)||110||–||7/17/600|
|The number 150 in v. 24 includes the number 40 in v. 12.||150||157|
|“And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.” (Gen. 8:5)||74||–||10/1/600|
|74 is the number of days between 7/17/600 and 10/1/600. The date 7/17/600 comes from adding 150 days to 2/17/600.||224||231|
|“At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.” (Gen. 8:6-7)||40||–||11/10/600|
|Noah released a raven one week before a dove.||264||271|
|“Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground.” (Gen. 8:8)||7||–||11/17/600|
|Even though v. 8 doesn’t mention a number, v. 10 refers to “another seven days,” implying that Noah waited seven days the first time he sent out the dove.||271||278|
|The table continues below|
|Genesis||Flood Days||Ark Days||Date|
|“He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.” (Gen. 8:10)||7||–||11/24/600|
|This marks the second time Noah sent out the dove.||278||285|
|“Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.” (Gen. 8:12)||7||–||12/1/600|
|This marks the third time Noah sent out the dove.||285||292|
|“In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth.” (Gen. 8:13a)||29||–||1/1/601|
|The flood story dates events in relation to Noah’s age.||314||321|
|“In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out.” (Gen. 8:14)||57||–||2/27/600|
|If the last day isn’t counted||370||377|
|If the last day is counted||371||378|
|Why do some believe Noah was on the ark for 372 days? See below|
Why do some people believe Noah was on the ark for 40 days? Genesis doesn’t teach that Noah was on the ark for only 40 days, even though that’s a popular way for people to tell the story. The confusion probably comes from people mixing up the number of days that rain fell with Noah’s total time in the ark.
Also see When Did Noah Build the Ark? to learn more.
Why do some believe Noah was on the ark for 372 days?
Genesis scholars disagree on what calendar the ancient Hebrews used since the Bible doesn’t explicitly say. Some believe it was a solar calendar, with fixed months of thirty days. A solar calendar is the basis of the views mentioned above.
Others believe the ancient Hebrews used a lunar calendar of about 354 days, as months can be 29 or 30 days in length. Therefore, if a year were about 354 days, the flood would have lasted about 365 days. This calculation means that Noah would have spent 372 days on the ark.
What do well-reviewed Genesis commentaries teach?
Victor Hamilton (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) teaches that the flood lasted 12 lunar months and 11 days, totaling 365 days.  Gordon Wenham (Word Biblical Commentary) offers Umberto Cassuto’s explanation, which teaches that the flood lasted 12 lunar months and 11 days.  Cassuto (1883-1951) was a Jewish scholar that many Genesis scholars still consult.
Well-known creation scientist Henry Morris (The Genesis Record), holds to a 371-day flood.  Another popular teacher among young-earth creationists, John Whitcomb (The Genesis Flood), also argues for a 371-day flood.  A 371-day flood implies Noah spent 378 in the ark. However, a 365-day flood is compatible with the young-earth creationist position. 
What do popular Study Bibles teach?
The NIV Study Bible, one of the most popular study aids today, doesn’t mention the actual number of days. Instead, it refers to the duration of the flood as “more than a year.”  The widely-used ESV Study Bible includes a chart that indicates a 370-day flood.  Likewise, The Jeremiah Study Bible teaches a 370-day flood.  A 370-day flood would mean that Noah spent 377 days in the ark.
The John MacArthur Study Bible notes that “Noah and his family had been on the ark for 378 days” without further explanation.  The reader can infer that this means MacArthur supports a 371-day flood and added the initial seven-day period on the ark before the flood began to arrive at 378 days.
Also see How Long Did Noah Live? to learn more.
 The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 by Victor Hamilton. p. 305.
 Genesis 1-15 by Gordon Wenham. p. 187.
 The Genesis Record by Henry Morris. p. 211.
 The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb. p. 3.
 NIV Study Bible. p. 25.
 ESV Study Bible. p. 63.
 The Jeremiah Study Bible. p. 14.
 The John MacArthur Study Bible. p. 29.
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