of the Covenant
The Ark of the
Covenant is about as "Lost" as the "Lost Tribes Of Israel".
Though we know the British Isles and eventually the United
States of America became the home of the Lost Tribes, they still
seem to be hiding in plain sight. The Ark is doing the same
thing. It's here and it will soon be brought back onto the stage
of history. Of course the world will be short of sight even
then. In fact, the world will be short of existence at that
point as well. But cheer up because for now Jesus (which the Ark
symbolizes) is still saving!
According to the Bible, the two tablets of stone constituting
the "testimony" or evidence of God's covenant with the people
(Deuteronomy 31:26) (i.e. The Ten Commandments) were kept within
the Ark itself. A golden jar containing some of the manna from
the Israelites' trek in the wilderness, and the rod of Aaron
that budded, were added to the contents of the Ark (Ex.
16:32-34; Heb. 9:4), but apparently were later removed at some
point prior to the building of Solomon's temple, as the Tanakh
states in I Kings 8:9 that there "was nothing in the Ark save
the two tablets of stone." While Heb. 9:4 states these items
were placed "inside" the Ark, Ex. 16:33-34 and Num. 17:10 use
the expression "before" the Ark; some see a contradiction here,
as the correct meaning of these phrases is open to
interpretation. A Rabbinic tradition states that Moses also put
the broken fragments of the first tablets of the Law into the
Ark (Hertz 1936).
Sanctity and consecration
Even Aaron, brother of Moses and the High Priest, was forbidden
to enter the place of the Ark, except once per year on a
designated day, when he was to perform certain ceremonies there
(Lev. 16). Moses was directed to consecrate the Ark, when
completed, with the oil of holy ointment (Ex. 30:23-26); he was
also directed to have the Ark made by Bezalel, son of Uri of the
tribe of Judah, and by Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach of the
tribe of Dan (Ex. 31:2-7). These instructions Moses carried out,
calling upon every "wisehearted" one among the people to assist
in the work (Ex. 35:10-12). Bezaleel the artist made the Ark
(Ex. 37:1); and Moses approved the work, put the testimony in
the Ark, and installed it.
According to the Haggadah written in the Mishnaic and Talmudic
periods (circa 200-500 AD), after installment in the second
Temple, the Ark and the operation of the Temple was supervised
by the angel Metatron. There are numerous possible etymologies
for the name Metatron, one being from two Greek words after and
throne. There are no references to Metatron in the Jewish Tanakh
(Old Testament), the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) or any
In Deut. 10:1-5, a different account of the making of the Ark is
given. Moses is made to say that he constructed the Ark before
going upon Mount Horeb to receive the second set of tablets. The
charge of carrying the Ark and the rest of the holy implements
was given to the family of Kohath (of the tribe of Levi). They,
though, were not to touch any of the holy things that were still
uncovered by Aaron (Num. 4:2-15).
The Ark of the Covenant
In Hebrew: aron hab'rit is described in the Bible as a sacred container, wherein rested the Tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments as well as other sacred Israelite pieces. According to the Biblical account, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses' prophetic vision on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:9-10). God communicated with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Ex. 25:22). The Ark and its sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1). Rashi and some Midrashim suggest that there were two arks - a temporary one made by Moses, and a later one made by Bezalel (Hertz 1936)
The Biblical account relates that during the trip of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests ~2,000 cubits (Numbers 35:5; Joshua 4:5) in advance of the people and their army or host (Num. 4:5-6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). When the Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, the river was separated, opening a pathway for the whole of the host to pass over (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7-18). The Ark was borne in a seven day procession around the wall of Jericho by three priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns, the city taken with a shout (Josh. 6:4-20). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in tachash skins (the identity of this animal is uncertain), and a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.
The Bible describes the Ark as made of acacia or shittah-tree
wood. It was a cubit and a half broad and high, and two and a
half cubits long (about 130 cm x 78 cm x 78 cm or 4.29 x 2.57 x
2.57 feet, for Egyptian royal cubit was most likely used). The
Ark was covered all over with the purest gold. Its upper surface
or lid, the mercy seat (Hebrew: ?????, Kaporet), was surrounded
with a rim of gold.
On each of the two sides were two gold rings, wherein were
placed two wooden poles (with a decorative sheathing of gold),
to allow the Ark to be carried (Num. 7:9; 10:21; 4:5,19, 20; 1
Kings 8:3, 6). Over the Ark, at the two extremities, were two
cherubim, with their faces turned toward one another (Leviticus
16:2; Num. 7:89). Their outspread wings over the top of the Ark
formed the throne of God, while the Ark itself was his footstool
(Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The Ark was placed in the "Holy of
Holies," so that one end of the carrying poles touched the veil
separating the two compartments of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8).
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