Background Bible Study

The Ark of the Covenant
Ancient Manners and Customs, Daily Life, Cultures, Bible Lands


Ark of the Covenant Summary PDF (276 KB), Quick Summary Slideshow, Interesting Facts

Quick Overview of the Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant was a physical sign that the God of all the earth was in Israel "and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in them" (Ex. 25:8). God made a covenant with Israel and with all mankind that only by the shedding of the blood of Christ would there be forgiveness of sins. Abraham, the first Hebrew knew this when God told him to bring his only son Isaac whom he loves to the altar, and rejoiced to see the day of Christ (John 8:56).

The Ark's Design was Revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ark of the Covenant (Heb. Ahrohn HaBreet) was a small wooden box or chest (approx. 3.9 feet by 2.3 feet) that contained the covenant made by the LORD to the people of Israel. God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai the exact specifications for constructing the Ark. It was crafted in acacia wood and overlaid with gold, and inside was placed the unbroken stone tablets of the Law, a golden pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that miraculously budded or blossomed. The lid was called the Mercy Seat and it was made from one piece of solid gold, beaten into a shape that revealed two angelic creatures (Cherubim) on each side with wings outstretched. God appeared between the Cherubim where the blood was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement. The LORD also appeared and spoke between the Cherubim. There were poles inserted in the rings in each of the 4 corners of the ARK for carrying. When the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness the Ark was carried first by the priests to lead the way. The mysterious Shekinah Glory "Cloud of the LORD" would lead them by day and it became a Pillar of Fire by night. When the people encamped in the wilderness the Tabernacle was set up and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies behind the Veil. When they departed the Tabernacle was packed up in an orderly manner.

Numbers 10:33-36 - And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the LORD [was] upon them by day, when they went out of the camp. And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel. 

Quick History of The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant led the way to the Promised Land

After Moses died the children of Israel were led by Joshua into the Land of Canaan. When they came to the Jordan River the waters parted before the Ark of the Covenant. The children of Israel crossed the Jordan and conquered the "Promised Land" with the Ark of the Covenant leading the way. Later the Tabernacle was erected at a city called Gilgal and the Ark of the Covenant was kept there for a season. Later the Ark was removed and taken to Shiloh where it remained for nearly 400 years. Israel had become so corrupt that they forsook the Lord and worshipped the queen of heaven. The Ark of the Covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines, who were forced to return it after many plagues broke out in their land. Later the Ark of the Covenant was kept at a place called Kiriath-jearim until David was anointed king of Israel and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem until the Temple was erected. David's son Solomon completed the Temple in Jerusalem and placed the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. Later there was a civil was and Israel was divided, 10 tribes went to the north and the remaining 2 stayed in the south. The Ark of the Covenant remained in the Temple in Jerusalem. The northern kingdom continually forsook the Lord until God gave them into the hands of the Assyrians and they were deported away in 722 BC. Later the remaining 2 tribes forsook the Lord also and Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Bible does not mention what happened to the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant
Painting of the Ark of the Covenant as Described in the Bible

Background of The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant was a picture of Jesus Christ

The Hebrew Name and Meaning of the Ark of the Covenant

The Hebrew noun "Ahrohn" (Ark) is used nearly 200 times in the Old Testament to depict the Ark of the Covenant. The word Ahrohn means chest or container and was used in various contexts. For example it was used for a money box (2 Ki 12:9), and also for a coffin (Gen. 50:26), both signifying its use as a container of something. The Bible goes further and calls it the Ark of God numerous times, and also the Ark of his might (Ps 132:8), signifying power and glory. Over 30 times the Ark is called The Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh (Num 10:33). The Covenant represented God's redemptive covenant with Israel and his promise to save his people if they would not forsake him. Yet ultimately the Bible seizes upon the ancient imagery of the blood covenant that was cut not only for the Jews but for all mankind, signifying the death of the One who makes the covenant.

Hebrews 9:16-18 - For where a covenant is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 

The Biblical Description of the Ark of the Covenant

The description of the Ark of the Covenant was revealed to Moses while he was on Mount Sinai (Ex. 25:10-22). The Box was to be made of Acacia wood, it was to be 2.5 cubits (3.9 feet) long and 1.5 cubits (2.3 feet) wide and tall. It was overlaid completely with gold and it had a gold crown around the top of the box. The were gold rings with long poles of wood overlaid with gold for transporting the Ark.

Artist's Drawing of the Ark of the Covenant
An Artist's Depiction of the Ark of the Covenant

The Lid which was referred to as the Mercy Seat was crafted from one block of solid gold that was beaten into its shape. It was made of the same dimensions as the Ark 2.5 cubits by 1.5 cubits. On top were two angelic beings (Cherubim) which were standing on two feet and facing each other and looking down at the top of the lid where the blood was sprinkled. The Cherubim were also gold and were hammered from the same block of gold. They were 4-faced creatures as described in Ezekiel's vision (Ez. 1:5), the face of a lion, an eagle, an ox, and a man. The Cherubim were also the same fierce creatures who were chosen to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life after Adam and Eve had sinned. They wielded a flaming sword that turned in four directions (Gen. 3:24).


Painting of the 4 Faces of the Cherubim
 

The Ark of the Covenant was Hand Crafted by two skilled and anointed craftsmen named Bezalel and Oholiab and other skilled workers. The Ark was placed within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and later the Temple. There was a veil which separated God and man, and only the high priest could enter once per year on Yom Kippur (The Great Day of Atonement) to sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat.

The Purpose of the Ark of the Covenant

The primary purpose of the Ark of the Covenant was to contain God's covenant, the 2 unbroken stone tables of the law, the 10 commandments (Deut 10:3-5). Moses also had a golden jar of Manna placed in the Ark as a reminder of God's faithfulness (Ex. 16:33). God also commanded Moses to place Aaron's rod that budded into the Ark as a sign against rebellion (Num. 17:10).

The Ark of the Covenant was also a sign of God's continual Presence with his people. Just as God revealed himself at Mount Sinai, and in the Glory Cloud that led them through the wilderness, so God would appear between the wings of the Cherubim above the Mercy Seat:

Exodus 25:22 - And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which [are] upon the ark of the testimony, of all [things] which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. 

The Day of Atonement

On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) each year the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant between the Cherubim to make atonement for sin (Lev. 16). First he would take a golden censor of incense and the smoke would fill the room. Then he would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat 7 times, first with the blood of a bull for his own sins, and then with the blood of a goat for the sins of the people. The Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant became a place where God's judgement upon sin was met with mercy through the shed blood of a substitute. God's Law (10 Commandments) inside the Ark demanded judgement against man's sins and utter failure to keep the law, yet God's holiness and wrath against sin would be satisfied because of the shed blood of a substitute. The Mercy Seat completely covered man's sin from being seen by a holy God. This ritual would happen every year until the final sacrifice would cover the sins of all mankind for all time.

Hebrews 9:11-12 - "But Christ having come as a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and bulls, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption."

Painting of the Tabernacle of Moses in the Wilderness
Painting of the Tabernacle of Moses

The History of the Ark of the Covenant

God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai his plans to build the Ark of the Covenant. The Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) was erected on "the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month" (Ex. 40:17). The Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies and Moses put certain Levites, the Kohathites, in charge of the Ark (Num. 3:31), but they were not allowed to touch it. They would move the Ark using the long poles after it was covered by Aaron and his sons with the veil, a badger skin, and a blue cloth. The Ark led the people of Israel through the Wilderness and was ahead by a 3 days journey until they came to a place where they would set up camp. The Ark was with them through all their wilderness journeys.

Numbers 4:5-6 - When the camp moves forward, Aaron shall go in, and his sons, and they shall take down the veil of the screen, and cover the ark of the Testimony with it, and shall put a covering of badger skin on it, and shall spread over it a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles.

The Mountains of Sinai
The Mountains of the Sinai Wilderness

The Ark of the Covenant and the Early History of Israel

Once the Children of Israel entered the Land of Canaan the Jordan River parted before the Ark of the Covenant. They set up memorial stones at Gilgal near where Abraham had erected his first altar. The Tabernacle was set up at Gilgal and Joshua set up his headquarters there. The Conquest of Canaan lasted seven years and the Ark was with the Israelites. In the conquering of Jericho the Israelites marched around the city wall with the Ark leading them and after 7 times the wall fell. While they were conquering the land the Tabernacle was moved to a more central location at Shiloh. Joshua and the Israelites Divided the Land of Canaan among the tribes and settled in the land. The Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant remained at Shiloh for over 300 years. It was while the Ark was at Shiloh that Samuel was dedicated to the LORD by his mother Hannah and he was raised by a priest named Eli, a descendant of Aaron. Throughout the Period of the Judges the Ark was at Shiloh, the Tabernacle was referred to as the "House of God" (Judg. 18:31) and even the "Temple of God where the Ark was" (1 Sam. 3:3). The Ark was mentioned at Bethel during the war against Gibeah (Judg. 20:26-27).


Map Showing the Key Places Where the Ark of the Covenant was Mentioned

The Ark of the Covenant and the Kingdom of Israel

Later in the 11th century BC the Philistines defeated Israel between Aphek and Eben-ezer and captured the Ark of the Covenant and brought the Ark from Eben-ezer to Ashdod, the chief city of the Land of the Philistines. Many plagues broke out in their land and when they placed the Ark in the temple of Dagon their god the idol fell down prostrate before the Ark and broke in pieces (1 Sam. 5:1-5). They placed the Ark on a milk cart and thought if the cow heads in the direction of Israel instead of her nursing calves it must be the LORD. The Ark returned to the Land of Israel to Beth-shemesh on the NW border of Judah, and the people from Beth-shemesh looked into the Ark and 50,070 of them were smitten by the LORD (1 Sam. 6:19). Later the Ark was moved to Kiriath-jearim, to the house of a Levite name Abinadab who lived on a hill. He consecrated his son Eliezer to keep watch of the Ark and it remained there for about 20 years. Kiriath-jearim was one of the four Gibeonite cities that made peace with Israel by deceit (Joshua 9:6). After this Israel cried out for a king and the prophet Samuel anointed the young good looking Saul, yet this was not God's chosen king. Saul became king but he neglected the Ark of the Covenant except for the time that he called for the Ark during the battle at Michmash (1 Sam. 14:18). Later after David conquered Jerusalem he intended to bring the Ark to his new capital on Mount Zion. A Levite named Uzzah was smitten by God for touching the Ark to keep it from falling off the cart on the road for the oxen had stumbled. David became concerned and delayed in bringing the Ark to Mount Zion. The Ark remained at the house of a Levite named Obed-edom for 3 months. Once David saw Obed-edom being blessed by the LORD he brought the Ark to Jerusalem with great singing and rejoicing. He placed the Ark of the Covenant in a tent near the Well of Gihon.
18th Century Bible Illuminated Artwork of David in Celebration Bring the Ark to Jerusalem
   Illuminated Manuscript of David Bring the Ark to Jerusalem with Great Celebration

The Tabernacle and brazen altar of sacrifice were still functioning at Gibeon while the Ark was at a tent in Jerusalem. The Ark remained there except when the Levites brought the Ark to accompany David's armies in battle. When Solomon had been anointed king of Israel the Ark was still in the tent in Jerusalem. After Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Moriah and the Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant remained in Solomon's Temple throughout the history of the Kings of Israel and Judah for the next 300 years. There was one incident where the evil King Manasseh removed the Ark which testified against him and placed an idol there instead (2 Chronicles 33:7). Later Josiah restored the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy of Holies. The Bible records that Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed in 586 BC. There is no record in the Bible of what happened to the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant and the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians

When Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple there is no mention of the Ark of the Covenant. It was not mentioned among the spoils of Nebuzaradan (2 Kings 25:13-17).

2 Chronicles 36:18-19 - All the vessels of God's house, great and small, and the treasures of The LORD's house, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. They burned God's house, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all of its valuable vessels.

There was also no mention of the Ark of the Covenant with the objects returned by king Cyrus of Persia (Ezra 1:7-9, Ezra 5:14, Ezra 6:5). There is also no mention in the prophetic writings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel of the Ark's whereabouts. There is no mention of the Ark of the Covenant when Alexander the Great made a sacrifice when he came to Jerusalem. There is also no reference to the Ark of the Covenant among the spoils of Antiochus Epiphanes when he plundered the Second Temple in 167 BC. The second book of Esdras states: "the ark of our covenant is spoiled." 2 Esdras 10:22.

The Ark of the Covenant and the Second Temple

Mt Nebo Stone MemorialIt is interesting that the Apocrypha indicates that the Ark of the Covenant could not be found when the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt, the Second Temple, the Temple of Zerubbabel which was built during the time of Ezra and Zechariah. The Apocrypha gives a reason for this stating that Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant in a cave on Mt. Nebo before the Babylonians came and conquered Jerusalem. It also explains that the location of the Ark of the Covenant would not be revealed until God's determined time:

2 Maccabees 2:4-7 "It was also in the same document that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense; then he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: ?The place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy."

Many Jews in Israel today believe that the Ark of the Covenant will be found when the Messiah comes, some because of the above passage in the Apocrypha. Historical Christianity rejected the Apocrypha and the book of Maccabees as part of the Canon of Scripture, but only useful for religious and historical reference in some cases. Philo and Josephus also rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture. The writings of the Apocrypha were not admitted into the Bible by Jews or Christians until the 4th century AD. (For further reference see the book From God to Us by Norman Geisler and William Nix, 1974, Moody Press.

The Ark of the Covenant and the New Testament

When Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC he entered the Holy of Holies and referred to it as an "empty room."

During New Testament times the Ark of the Covenant was not in the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem. It is uncertain on what the blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement by the high priest. Jewish tradition mentions an altar stone raised up slightly above the floor.

It is amazing that something so powerful in ancient Old Testament times could just disappear from history. There is absolutely no mention of what happened to it until the New Testament revealed that it is in the heavenly Temple (Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 11:19).

Hebrews 9:11-12 - But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Revelation 11:19 - And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

The Ark of the Covenant and Archaeology

Has the Ark of the Covenant been discovered or does anyone have an idea of where it is?
Although there are very many claims that the Ark of the Covenant has been seen or discovered, there is no evidence of this. There is no archaeological Society or organization that has recognized the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. In an exclusive interview with Bible History Online Dr. Dan Bahat, chief archaeologist of the Temple Mount was asked about the Ark of the Covenant and whether anything has been discovered and he said, "No, and there won't be because we know already from the book of Maccabees that it was hidden already outside of Jerusalem, according to tradition on Mount Nebo in TransJordan." We asked where the best possible choice of the location of the Ark of the Covenant could be based on Archaeology, his reply was, "I would start on Mount Nebo." Another interesting question we asked Dr. Bahat was if there has been any relevance to sightings anywhere in Jerusalem of the Ark of the Covenant, or things like Jeremiah's Grotto, his reply was: "Rubbish, all rubbish."

Does the Ark need to be discovered before the building of a Third Temple?
The Ark of the Covenant would be a remarkable discovery and would certainly stimulate excitement and enthusiasm in Jews around the world but it does not necessarily need to be discovered for the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. Obviously the Jews built the Second Temple with no Ark of the Covenant and God blessed Zerubabbel's Temple, and even in the time of Herod's Temple there was no Ark, yet Jesus referred to it as "my father's house." It is clear from the Scriptures that there will be a Third Temple during the tribulation, and that the antichrist will take his seat there. In our interview with Dr. Bahat we asked him if there was any talk in Jerusalem about the building of a Third Temple and what about the Dome of the Rock, his reply was, "It cannot be, we must wait for the Messiah to come, and positionally it is not possible for the Dome of the Rock to stand where the Temple stands because they are the same place...it must be only by divine power."

Was the Ark of the Covenant Similar to Egyptian Arks?


Egyptian Cedar Chest from Tutankhamen's Tomb

"The Egyptian arks (on their monuments) were, like the Hebrew ark, carried by poles on men's shoulders. Some had on the cover two winged figures like cherubim; but between these was the material symbol of a deity, and the arks were carried about in procession to make a show before the people. The ark of the covenant on the contrary was marked by the absence of any symbol of God. It was never carried in procession. When moved it was carefully covered up from the eyes even of the Levites who bore it (Numbers 4:5-6; Numbers 4:19-20): "they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die." Compare 1 Samuel 6:19. In the tabernacle the ark was withdrawn from view in the mysterious holy of holies." - Fausset

The Ark of the Covenant and Traditions of its Location

Did archaeologists find a secret cave under the Dome of the Rock?

Is the Ark of the Covenant in Tanis as in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Was the Ark of the Covenant Taken by the Egyptian king Shishak I?

Did the Babylonians Take the Ark to Babylon when they Conquered Jerusalem?

Did the prophet Jeremiah hide the Ark before the Babylonians arrived?


The Bible Mentions the Ark of the Covenant

Numbers 10:33 - And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey: and the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them.

Joshua 3:17 - And the priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Joshua 4:7 - Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

1 Kings 8:1 - Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which [is] Zion.   

Joshua 4:18 - And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, [and] the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as [they did] before.   

Joshua 3:14 - And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people;

1 Kings 3:15 - And Solomon awoke; and, behold, [it was] a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.


The Bible Mentions Ark Often

Exodus 25:16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.


Exodus 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

Exodus 40:20 And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:

Deuteronomy 10:5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

1 Kings 8:9 [There was] nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made [a covenant] with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 5:10 [There was] nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put [therein] at Horeb, when the LORD made [a covenant] with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.

2 Samuel 6:12 And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that [pertaineth] unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness.

2 Samuel 6:13 And it was [so], that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.

2 Samuel 6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all [his] might; and David [was] girded with a linen ephod.

2 Samuel 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

2 Samuel 6:16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

2 Samuel 6:17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

1 Chronicles 6:31 And these [are they] whom David set over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest.


1 Chronicles 16:1 So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.

 

Ark of the Covenant in Smith's Bible Dictionary
Ark of the Covenant. The first piece of the tabernacle's furniture, for which precise directions were delivered. Exod 25. I. Description.-- It appears to have been an oblong chest of shittim (acacia) wood, 2 1/2 cubits long by 1 1/2 broad and deep. Within and without gold was overlaid on the wood, and on the upper side or lid, which was edged round about with gold, the mercy-seat was placed. The ark was fitted with rings, one at each of the four corners, and through these were passed staves of the same wood similarly overlaid, by which it was carried by the Kohathites. Nu 7:9; 10:21 The ends of the staves were visible without the veil in the holy place of the temple of Solomon. 1Ki 8:8 The ark, when transported, was enveloped in the "veil" of the dismantled tabernacle, in the curtain of badgers' skins and in a blue cloth over all, and was therefore not seen. Nu 4:5,20 II. Its purpose was to contain inviolate the divine autograph of the two tables, that "covenant" from which it derived its title. It was also probably a reliquary for the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron. III.  Read Full Article

Ark of the Covenant in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia
The Form of the Ark of the Covenant. According to the statements in the Priestly Code (P), the ark of the covenant was a chest made out of acacia wood, 2 1/2 cubits (about equal to 4 ft.) long, 1 1/2 cubits wide and 1 1/2 high. That it was made out of acacia wood is also stated by the Deuteronomist in Dt 10:3. According to P it was covered with gold within and without, and was ornamented with a moulding of gold running all around it. At its four feet rings were added, through which the gold-covere d carrying-staves were put. These staves are also mentioned in 1 Ki 8:7,8; 2 Ch 5:8,9, and mention is often made of those who carried the ark (2 Sam 6:13; 15:24). The correctness of these statements cannot be proved, but yet there is no reason to doubt them. Rather we might have reason to hesitate in clinging to the view that on the old ark there was really a golden kapporeth, but only because in olden times the possession of such valuables and their use for such a purpose would be doubtful. But on the basis of such reasons we could at most doubt whether the lid with its cherubim consisted of solid gold.  Read Full Article

Ark of the Covenant in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Ark. The sacred ark is designated by a different Hebrew word, "'aron'", which is the common name for a chest or coffer used for any purpose (Gen. 50:26; 2 Kings 12:9, 10). It is distinguished from all others by such titles as the "ark of God" (1 Sam. 3:3), "ark of the covenant" (Josh. 3:6; Heb. 9:4), "ark of the testimony" (Ex. 25:22). It was made of acacia or shittim wood, a cubit and a half broad and high and two cubits long, and covered all over with the purest gold. Its upper surface or lid, the mercy-seat, was surrounded with a rim of gold; and on each of the two sides were two gold rings, in which were placed two gold-covered poles by which the ark could 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 each other (Lev. 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 deposited in the "holy of holies," and was so placed that one end of the poles by which it was carried touched the veil which separated the two apartments of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8). The two tables of stone which constituted the "testimony" or evidence of God's covenant with the people (Deut. 31:26), the "pot of manna" (Ex. 16:33), and "Aaron's rod that budded" (Num. 17:10), were laid up in the ark (Heb. 9:4).   Read Full Article

Ark of the Covenant in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Ark of the covenant. (aron, not teebah). An oblong chester shittim wood (acacia), two and a half cubits long, one and a half broad and deep. F. W. Kolland measured acacias nine feet in girth, in the region of Israel's wandering; he attributes their being usually stunted there to the Arabs cutting off the young shoots for the she goats. Thus Colenso's cavil that "not a single acacia" is to be seen where the ark is said to have been constructed is answered. It is a propriety characteristic of the truth of the Scripture narrative that it represents the ark as not made of oak or cedar, the best woods of the Holy Land, but of acacia, the wood of the wilderness. Cedar actually was the wood used for the Jerusalem temple. In the thorn of man's curse appeared the angel of the covenant to Moses, to bless man; and out of its wood was formed the ark of the covenant, the typical source of his blessing. Overlaid with gold within and without.    Read Full Article

Ark of the Covenant in Naves Topical Bible

IN THE TABERNACLE. Called THE ARK
OF THE COVENANT
Nu 10:33; De 31:26; Jos 4:7; 1Sa 4:3; 2Sa 15:24; 1Ch
15:25; 17:1; Jer 3:16; Heb 9:4
OF THE TESTIMONY
Ex 30:6
OF THE LORD
Jos 4:11; 1Sa 4:6; 6:1; 2Sa 6:9; 15:12; 16:4
OF GOD
1Sa 3:3; 4:11,17,22; 6:3; 14:18; 2Sa 6:7; 7:2; 15:25; 1Ch
13:12; 15:1,2,15,24; 16:1
OF GOD'S STRENGTH
2Ch 6:41
Sanctification of
Ex 30:26
Ceremonies connected with, on the day of atonement
Le 16:13-15
Holy
2Ch 8:11; 35:3
An oracle of God
Nu 10:33; 14:44; Jos 7:6-15; Jud 20:27,28; 1Sa 4:3,4,7;
1Ch 13:3; 16:4,37; 2Ch 6:41; Ps 132:8
See MERCY SEAT
Directions for making
Ex 25:10-15; 35:12
Construction of
Ex 37:1-5; De 10:3
Contents of
The law
Ex 25:16,21; 40:20; De 10:5; 31:26; 1Ki 8:9; 2Ch 5:10
Aaron's rod
Nu 17:10; Heb 9:4
Pot of manna
Ex 16:33,34; Heb 9:4
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The Bible Mentions the Covenant Often

Leviticus 2:13 - And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

Isaiah 59:21 - As for me, this [is] my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that [is] upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

2 Kings 11:17 - And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people; between the king also and the people.

1 Chronicles 11:3 - Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.

Joshua 8:33 - And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

Isaiah 57:8 - Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered [thyself to another] than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee [a covenant ] with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest [it].

Genesis 26:28 - And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, [even] betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;

Acts 7:8 - And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs.

Genesis 6:18 - But with thee will I establish my covenant ; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

Ezekiel 16:8 - Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Numbers 10:33 - And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them.

Exodus 34:15 - Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and [one] call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

Isaiah 54:10 - For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

Malachi 3:1 - Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant , whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Numbers 18:19 - All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it [is] a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee.

Deuteronomy 9:9 - When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, [even] the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:

Joshua 3:17 - And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

1 Samuel 20:8 - Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?

Joshua 4:7 - Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

1 Kings 8:1 - Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which [is] Zion.

2 Kings 23:2 - And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 34:30 - And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.

Isaiah 49:8 - Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for acovenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

Joshua 4:18 - And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, [and] the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as [they did] before.

2 Kings 11:4 - And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king's son.

Joshua 3:14 - And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

Daniel 11:28 - Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart [shall be] against the holy covenant ; and he shall do [exploits], and return to his own land.

1 Kings 3:15 - And Solomon awoke; and, behold, [it was] a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

Ezekiel 16:61 - Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant .

Ezekiel 44:7 - In that ye have brought [into my sanctuary] strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, [even] my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.

Directions for Making the Ark of the Covenant: Exodus 25:10-15
Exodus 25:10-15 - And they shall make an ark [of] shittim wood: two cubits and a half [shall be] the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put [them] in the four corners thereof; and two rings [shall be] in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves [of] shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.

The Contents of the Ark of the Covenant: Hebrews 9:3-4
Hebrews 9:3-4 - And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein [was] the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

The Place of the Ark withing the Tabernacle: Exodus 40:21
Exodus 40:21 - And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.

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More Ark of the Covenant Resources

The Ark of the Covenant (The Tabernacle) - Bible History Online - The Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-22). The purpose of the Tabernacle was to house the Ark in which the tablets of the Ten Commandments were placed.
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Ark_of_the_Covenant.htm

The Mercy Seat (The Tabernacle) - Bible History Online - Bible History Online - The Mercy Seat on The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle of Moses in the Wilderness.
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Mercy_Seat.htm

The Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online - The Ark of the Covenant was a physical sign that the God of all the earth was in Israel "and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in them" (Ex. 25:8).
http://www.bible-history.com/biblestudy/arkofthecovenant.html

The Shekinah Glory (The Tabernacle) - Bible History Online - God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Why Study the Tabernacle? A) 50 Chapters...
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Shekinah_Glory.htm

ARK OF THE COVENANT in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE (Bible ... - I. The Statements of the Old Testament Concerning the Ark of the Covenant. 1. Pentateuch: In Ex 25:10 ff, Moses receives the command to build an ark of acacia ...
http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/A/ARK+OF+THE+COVENANT/

The Golden Ark of the Covenant (Painting) - Glossary - Bible History ... - God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Why Study the Tabernacle? A) 50 Chapters...
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4untitled00000188.htm

The Outer Court of the Tabernacle of Moses (Bible History Online) - The second chamber was called the Holy of Holies, it contained the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest the Holy of Holies only once a year on the Day of...
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Outer_Court.htm

Tabernacle Model (BiblePlaces.com) - Ark of the Covenant. The only object in the Holy of Holies, the sacred ark contained the two tablets with the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron that...
http://www.bible-history.com/linkpage.php?link=10881

Bible Definition of Ark of the covenant in Fausset's Bible Dictionary - In the thorn of man's curse appeared the angel of the covenant to Moses, to bless man; and out of its wood was formed the ark of the covenant, the typical source...
http://www.bible-history.com/faussets/A/Ark+of+the+covenant/

Tabernacle Ark of the Covenant - Glossary - The Tabernacle of ... - God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Why Study the Tabernacle? A) 50 Chapters...
http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4untitled00000210.htm

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Bible Study and Faith

"The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race." - Henry H. Halley

"This handbook is dedicated to the proposition that every Christian should be a constant and devoted reader of the Bible, and that the primary business of the church and ministry is to lead, foster, and encourage their people in the habit."

"The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."

"Great has been the blessing from consecutive, diligent, daily study. I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the word of God." - George Muller

"I prayed for faith, and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the 10th chapter of Romans, 'Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since." - D. L. Moody

-H. H. Halley "Halley's Bible Handbook" (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960) p. 4, 6


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Archaeological Study of the Bible

"A substantial proof for the accuracy of the Old Testament text has come from archaeology. Numerous discoveries have confirmed the historical accuracy of the biblical documents, even down to the obsolete names of foreign kings... Rather than a manifestation of complete ignorance of the facts of its day, the biblical record thus reflects a great knowledge by the writer of his day, as well as precision in textual transmission."

-Norman L. Geisler, William Nix "A General Introduction to the Bible" 5th Edition (Chicago: Moody Press 1983) p. 253


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Bibliography on Ancient Images

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
 

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