SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ARK OF THE COVENANT (Exodus 25:10-22)

I. Its place and purpose

 A. the place where YHWH dwelt (i.e., His footstool, cf. 1 Chr. 28:2; Ps. 132:7; Isa. 66:1) with His people, on the ark of the covenant between the wings of the cherubim

 B. the place of forgiveness of sin (i.e., mercy seat), for all peoples (cf. Israel, Leviticus 16 and 1 Kgs. 8:27-30; foreigners, 8:41,43,60)

 

II. Its contents

 A. rabbinical tradition

 1. the two tablets of stone on which YHWH wrote the decalog (cf. Exod. 31:18; 32:15-16)

 2. the two silver columns which hold the tablets (no biblical references)

 3. the fragments of the original two tablets which were broken by Moses because of Israel's (Aaron) making and worshiping the golden calf (cf. Exod. 32:19; Deut. 9:17; 10:2)

 4. a copy of the entire Torah (cf. Exod. 25:16)

 5. the names of God (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:29) developed in Kabalah, Jewish mysticism

 B. biblical references as to the contents (it is uncertain if these refer to things inside the ark or beside it)

 1. a jar of manna (cf. Exod. 16:31-36)

 2. Aaron's rod that budded (cf. Num. 17:4,10; Heb. 9:4)

 3. the guilt offerings of the Philistines (5 golden mice and golden hemorrhoids, cf. 1 Sam. 6:3-4,8)

 4. a copy of the Decalog (cf. Deut. 10:4-5; 31:26)

 C. at the dedication of Solomon's Temple in I Kings 8 the ark is said to have only contained the two tablets of stone (i.e., the Ten Words, cf. 1 Kgs. 8:9)

 

III. Its possible location

 A. Historical options

 1. taken to Egypt by Shishak (935-914 b.c.) when he invaded Judah in the fifth year (926 b.c.) of Rehoboam's (son of Solomon) reign (cf. 1 Kgs. 14:25-26; 2 Chr. 12:9).

 2. taken to Egypt (Zoan, Tanis, Avaris—different names for the delta capital of Seti I) by Pharaoh Necco II, who also exiled the Davidic seed Jehoahaz (Josiah's son) in 597 b.c. (cf. 2 Kgs. 23:31-35; 2 Chr. 36:1-4)

 3. taken to Babylon to the temple of Marduk by Nebuchadnezzar II when Zedekiah was exiled (586 b.c.) and the Temple burned (cf. 2 Kgs. 25:9,13-17; 2 Chr. 36:18).

 B. Jewish traditions 

 1. hidden on Mt. Nebo/Pisgah by Jeremiah before the fall of Jerusalem

 2. the apocryphal book of II Baruch says an angel hid it

 3. hidden by unknown means, but will be returned by Elijah just before the Messiah comes (cf. Mal. 4:5)

 4. hidden on Mt. Gerizim (Shechem) where the Samaritans built their temple to YHWH

 

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