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Crossing the Jordan

Joshua passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant by Benjamin West (1800)

The Ark of the Covenant was a chest built to hold the stone tablets of the Law[1] and a seat from which God spoke to His people.[2]

Instructions Edit

Design Edit

The ark was made of acacia wood and was two and a half cubits in length, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits tall. It was overlaid with pure gold, both inside an out, with molding of gold around it. It had four rings of gold as its feet where it was carried by two poles of acacia wood overlaid in gold.[3] On top of the ark was placed a mercy seat of pure gold measuring two and a half cubits by one and a half cubits.Two gold cherubim of hammered gold were placed facing each other on either end of the seat with their wings spread out above the seat. It was above the mercy seat and between the cherubim where God spoke to Moses.[4]

Care and Handling Edit

Once the tabernacle was built the ark was to be kept in the Most Holy Place while Israel was camped.[5] Before they travelled, Aaron and his sons would go in and cover the ark with the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then they would cover that with goatskin and blue cloth on top of the goatskin.[6] It was the charge of the Koathites to carry the ark from camp to camp.[7] As Israel travelled the ark went before them until they settled into another camp.[8]

Contents Edit

At different times during its existence, the ark carried different items. Originally it only carried the two tablets that had the ten commandments written on it.[9] During the wanderings of in the desert God told Moses to have Aaron put a jar with an omer of manna inside the ark.[10] After Korah's rebellion God told Moses to place Aaron's staff that had budded into the ark.[11] So at one point, while the Tabernacle was still in use, the ark held the two tablets, a golden jar of the incense created for God, jar of manna, and Arron's budded staff.[12] But mysteriously by the time Solomon had build the Temple and the ark was placed inside it only carried the two tablets.[13]

Narratives Edit

When Israel entered the Promised Land the Lord told Joshua to have the Levitical priests carry the ark ahead of Israel across the Jordan river.[14] When their feet touched the water, the waters stopped flowing and heaped up at the city of Adam.[15] As the people crossed over on dry land the ark and the priests stood in the center of the Jordan until all had passed by. When the priests carrying the ark walked out of the riverbed the waters of the Jordan returned to their place.[16]

Before the fall of great walled city Jericho, God commanded Joshua to walk around the city with the entire army along with the ark and seven priests with seven trumpets going with them. The trumpets were to be blown continually while the men were to remain completely silent. They did this once a day for six days. On the seventh day they walked around the city seven times and on the seventh lap the men shouted, the trumpets blew, and the wall fell down. Every man ran into the city and put it to the sword.[17]

During the time of Eli the prophet, the people took the ark from Shiloh, without the blessing of God, up to Ebenezer where the army of Israel was camped against the Philistines. The Philistines overpowered Israel who fled the field of battle. Upon searching the camp of Israel the ark was discovered and taken back to Ashdod where they placed it into the temple of Dagon. When the Philistines woke the next morning the statue of Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark. They lifted Dagon back up only to find him in the same position the next morning with his head and both hands cut off laying on the threshold of the temple. God afflicted the people of Ashdod with tumors while the ark was present. Once the people realized this they moved the ark to Gath but tumors broke out there as well. After seven months the Philistines decided they had had enough and sent the ark back to Israel. When the ark arrived in Beth-shemesh the people celebrated but during the celebration seventy men looked into the ark and were struck down by God. The men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark and brought it to the house of Abinadab who consecrated his son Eleazar to take care of the ark. It remained there for twenty years.[18]

King David gathered thirty thousand men to bring the ark up from Abinadab's house to Jerusalem. On the journey as they were passing the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled and Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark. God truck him down there because of his error and he died there beside the ark. David afraid of God and put the ark inside the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. While the ark was at his home the Lord blessed him. Three months later David learned that God was blessing Obed-edom because of the ark. So David went and brought the ark up to the city of David with great rejoicing while sacrificing an ox and fattened animal every six steps.[19]

Once Solomon finished building the Temple he assembled the elders of Israel and the heads of each tribe to bring the ark up from the city of David. They brought up the ark and all the holy objects into the temple, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted. The priests placed the ark in the Most Holy Place underneath the wings of the cherubim.[20]

References Edit

  1. Exodus 25:16
  2. Exodus 25:21-22
  3. Exodus 25:10-15
  4. Exodus 25:17-22
  5. Exodus 26:33-34
  6. Numbers 4:5-6
  7. Numbers 4:15
  8. Numbers 10:33; Joshua 3:3
  9. Exodus 25:16
  10. Exodus 16:33-34
  11. Numbers 17:10
  12. Hebrews 9:3-4
  13. 1 Kings 8:9
  14. Joshua 3:3
  15. Joshua 3:15-16
  16. Joshua 4:18
  17. Joshua 6
  18. 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2
  19. 2 Samuel 6:1-15
  20. 1 Kings 8:1-6