What is the Ark of the Covenant?
Ark of Covenant (אָרוֹן הַבְּרִית) is “Arca” in Latin, meaning a big box. It is a gold-covered wooden chest with a lid cover and cherubims. Legend has it that it contains power—and whoever possesses it has access.
After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, reached the promised land around 10 BC. The Ark rested in the First Temple of Jerusalem for 400 years. It was constructed during the reign of King David’s son, Solomon, and completed in 957 BC.
Inside the temple, a particular inner room separated by a curtain called “Kodesh Hakodashim” or “Holy of Holies” was created for Ark. Only Aaron and his descendants, the Levites, or High Priests, allowed inside the tabernacle.
Anyone who enters it may die except the High Priest, of course. However, if the priest has unconfessed sin, he too will pass. [Yoma 70a; Kohen Gadol]
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What is the Ark made of?
God instructed Moses on Mount Sinai during his 40-day stay on the mountain. He showed Moses the pattern for the Ark’s tabernacle and furnishings made of Shittim wood (probably an acacia). The size of the cherubs is speculated. (Exodus 25:10-11)
Design of the Ark
It’s approximately 52×31×31 inches, gilded entirely with gold, and a crown or molding of gold around it. Four rings of gold are in its four corners, and poles are inserted to it to carry them around. A golden lid or cover called the kapporet or “mercy seat” with two golden cherubim placed above.
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The Ark is sacrosanct
The “Arca” is a simple structure yet untouchable. It is where God’s presence was. The reason it is Holy and perhaps the most sacred relic. It cannot be touched, the reason there are poles, which always remain with the Ark.
Touching the Ark was a violation of the divine law
Uzzah and his brother drove the car that carried the Ark. He reached out and touched the Ark to support it because the oxen stumbled. The anger of the LORD burned against him and struck him down for his irreverence (2 Samuel 6:7).
God warned the Levites, “They shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.” (Numbers 4:15, emphasis added throughout).
How the Ark was kept securely
- The Ark was always covered by skins and cloths, hidden even from the priests who carried it.
- When stationary, poles were held up so they wouldn’t touch the ground inside a tent.
- The high priest was forbidden to be beside it unless during rituals.
When the Israelites established their presence in Canaan, it was first brought to Shiloh. King David later took the Ark to Jerusalem. His son King Solomon built the First Temple of Jerusalem in 957 BC to enshrine the Ark in Jerusalem. (Joshua 1–24)
What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?
- Two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
- Aaron’s rod.
- A pot of manna.
The supernatural power that went through the Ark
- The Ark parted the waters of the Jordan River. (Joshua 3:13)
- Jericho’s walls fell as soldiers blew their trumpets and shouted; the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant. (Josuha 2:10-20)
- The pagan god Dagon fell on its face on the ground when the Ark was placed beside it. (1 Samuel 5 1)
The Ark and the Third Temple of Jerusalem
The ongoing peace negotiation in the middle east, forged by America’s President Trump, is securing the third temple building. The temple institute may create a replica of the Ark as a political statement and say Israel has fully resurrected.
→ Rebuilding of the Third Temple update.
Is the Ark of the Covenant still relevant today?
Around 625 BC, Prophet Jeremiah wrote the Ark of the covenant would be forgotten. It won’t be missed or another one made (Jeremiah 3:16). As a relic, people will surely worship the Ark. Perhaps the reason God made sure it remains hidden.
After Jesus died, the curtain tore, which meant we were free to come to God. Our bodies became God’s Holy Temple, Jesus our High Priest, and our sins atoned by the Lamb of God—once and for all eternity. Thus the Ark is no longer relevant today.
History of Israel and the Jews, Christians must know.
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Where is the Ark of Covenant today?