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The Ark of the

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Luke Yakuber

Professor Thomson

History 134

19 February 2017

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant is something that many people may have heard about but do not

exactly know what it is, or if it even existed. Your belief in whether or not the Ark of the

Covenant actually existed resides on whether or not you believe the Bible to be a fictional or true

piece of history. Personally, I think that the Bible is a true record of history, however I do not

expect you to believe the same. The Ark of the Covenant is a great piece of history not only

religiously but culturally and symbolically too. No one knows where the Ark has gone, but it was

a very great piece of work according to those who did indeed see it. The reason for its

disappearance is unknown.

The Ark of the Covenant was given to Gods chosen people, the Hebrews. God gave it to

his people as a symbol of him to worship after his people had a revelation on Mount Sinai. In this

Ark of the Covenant was the two tablets that had the Ten Commandments on them that Moses

had just received. According to the author of The Gold of the Ark, Josiah Derby, there were very

specific instructions given for the size and materials of the Ark. The chest of the Ark was to be

made of acacia wood that was about forty five inches long by twenty seven inches wide by

twenty seven inches deep1. Those entire dimensions were to be layered with pure gold that was
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hammered out (Derby). According to Elihu Schatz, author of Jewish Bible Quarterly, the top

of the Ark had gold molding and deigns that gave the Ark a luxurious look2. In order for the Ark

to be picked up and carried four pure gold rings were created at the corners of the Ark. Inserted

into those rings were long acacia pieces of wood wrapped in pure gold making this Ark very

valuable and heavy (Derby 253). Through thorough analysis of the gold and other elements used

in this Ark it was found that it weighed approximately 12003 pounds and the weight of the gold

itself weighed approximately 200 pounds (Derby 254). Josiah Derby says that it took at least four

men to carry the Ark as they would each take a corner and put it on their shoulders and walk with

it as it needed moved (253).

Based on the description of the Ark it is clear that it was something beautiful, big, and

valuable especially for the time in which it existed. The Ark was something sacred that held the

Ten Commandments, something delivered from God in a revelation. This Ark was not a normal

little piece of art as it sat in the main religious facility. God gave very specific instructions for

how this special Ark was to be handled. In The Poles of the Ark: On the Ins and Outs of a

Textual Contradiction by Raanan Eichler, we see some of those specific instructions pointed

out. Eichler talks about how the poles4 of the Ark were to never part from the Ark which was a

common Hebrew tradition (734). He goes onto say that anytime a priest entered the tabernacle

where the Ark of the Covenant was the priest had to have a rope tied to his ankle in case the

presence of God overcame him and he died. The rope was then used to pull the priest out that

way others did not have to go in and get the priest. The Ark, according to Eichler, was located in

the very back of the tabernacle and was not visited but once or twice a year because of its

holiness (733-734). The Ark of the Covenant was a great piece of history, culture, and relgion for
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the Hebrews but its disappearance is a mystery and may always remain a mystery as no one

knows who took it.

No one knows who or how the Ark of the Covenant was stolen but there are many

theories out there that try and explain such a crazy disappearance. According to Theodore

Ehrlich, author of The Disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant, Pharaoh Shishaq, King

Jehoash of Israel, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia are all possible external rulers who could

have taken the Ark although there is not strong evidence for any of them. It is very unlikely that

it was any of these rulers based on Biblical documentation of where the Ark was and where they

were (Ehrlich 175). The last time that the Ark was mentioned in the Bible was in II Chronicles

35:3 where Josiah told the Levites to put the Holy Ark in the House that Solomon, son of David,

king of Israel built. The Ark was never presented to the entire nation giving no one a chance to

snatch it up. In addition, Ehrlich says that during any renovation of the Temple, the Ark (which

was in the Holy of Holies) was left alone because of the risk that the renovators would die in the

presence of God. It is also stated that for a time the Ark must have gone missing as someone

must have stolen it and destroyed it but no one knew that because of how little the Holy of

Holies was visited. The most convincing piece of evidence is that Baalsists would have taken it

as the following verse from the Bible is found in II Chronicles 24:7 the children of the wicked

Athaliah had violated the House of God and had even used the sacred things of the House of the

Lord for the Baals. The sacred thing could be referring to the Ark of the Covenant although it is

difficult to tell (Ehrlich 175).

The Ark of the Covenant is a great and beautiful religious token of the Hebrews. The

great weight and care towards it demonstrates the great power that the God they serve has. The
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mystery of its disappearance will always exist and no one will ever know where it went. It can

still be celebrated and researched as it plays a huge part in the Hebrew culture and history.
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1. For more details on the gold read page 253 of The Gold of the Ark.
2. For further detail about the dimension and design of the Ark read page 117-118 of the

Jewish Bible Quarterly.

3. For further detail regarding how 1200 pounds was the estimated weight read page 254 of

The Gold of the Ark.

4. There is a bit of debate on what the exact instructions were given regarding the poles. For

more information read The Poles of the Ark page 735.

Works Cited
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Josiah Derby, "The Gold of the Ark," Jewish Bible Quarterly. Vol. 33:4 (Oct. 2005) pp. 253-256

This source focuses in on the gold of the ark and the materials that were used in order to

make the ark. The source goes into further detail on instructions God gave and the dimensions of

the actual Ark. This source is credible because it gives information straight from the Bible, a

primary source.

Ehrlich, Theodore D. "The Disappearance Of The Ark Of The Covenant." Jewish Bible

aaaaaaaaaaQuarterly 40.3 (2012): 174-178. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

This is a source that really focuses on the dispappearnce of the Ark. It comes up with

many different theories and people who could have stolen it. It explains why some theories make

more sense than others. The source is credible because it uses a primary source, the Bible, as its

main source of information and only provides brief explanation off of the Bible.

EICHLER, RAANAN. "The Poles Of The Ark: On The Ins And Outs Of A Textual

aaaaaaaaaaContradiction." Journal Of Biblical Literature 135.4 (2016): 733-741. Academic

aaaaaaaaaaSearch Premier. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

This is a source that I found through Academic Search Premier. This is an excerpt that

talks about the Ark from the Hebrew Bible. It really focuses on what the priests instructions

were when handling the Ark of the Covenant. This piece of literature also went through the

details of the poles of the Ark. The source comes from a credible university and also accurately

sources many other sources within.

Schatz, Elihu A. "The Weight Of The Ark Of The Covenant." Jewish Bible Quarterly 35.2

aaaaaaaaaa(2007): 115-118. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

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This source gives great information regarding the size of the Ark and the specific

measurements as well. It goes into great detail and analysis on what each material weighed and

coming up with a grand total. This source is also credible because its information is cited right

form the Bible.