Ark of the Covenant

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The Ark of the Covenant (Hebrew: אָרוֹן הָבְּרִיתĀrōn Hāb’rīt [modern pron. Aron Habrit]) is a vessel described in the Bible as containing solely the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed (1 Kings 8:9-9). According to some traditional interpretation of Exodus 16:33-34 and Numbers 17:25-26 (or Numbers 17:10-11 in some translations), the Ark also contained Aaron's rod and a jar of manna. The ark is a symbol of God's permanent covenant(s) with the Jewish people and others who believe in accord with the Judaic scriptures (Christianity, Islam, etc.).

According to the Pentateuch, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses' prophetic vision on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:10-16). God was said to have communicated with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Exodus 25:22). The Ark and its sanctuary were considered "the beauty of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1). Rashi and some Midrashim suggest that there were two arks - a temporary one made by Moses himself, and a later one constructed by Bezalel.[1]

Biblical account relates that during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, the Ark was carried by the priests some 2,000 cubits, or 1,000 m; 3,400 ft (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, water in the river separated, opening a pathway for the entire host to pass through (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7-18). The city of Jericho was taken with no more than a shout after the Ark of Covenant was paraded for seven days around its wall by seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns (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 Cohanim who carried it.

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