Monday, May 24, 2010

Exodus 37:1-9 - A Brief Review of The Ark of The Covenant

The Exodus 37:1-9 repeats the minute details and dimensions of the Ark Of The Covenant that could be found in earlier chapters of the Pentateuch (Ex. 25:10-22). The only differences between these two descriptions are:


  1. God addreses Bezaleel not Moses 

  2. Description of the Mishkan for Bezalel begins with the Tent Of the Mishkan, and not with the Ark of the Covenant (Ex.25)  

  3. There are some minor differences in wording that provide some extra details, that were not mentioned in the first description. 
Since I wanted to review the details of the Ark Of The Covenant, I'm going to skip the repeated details of the Tent of the Mishkan and start with Exodus 37:1-9:

1 And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: 

‎1 ‏וַיַּ֧עַשׂ בְּצַלְאֵ֛ל אֶת־הָאָרֹ֖ן עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים אַמָּתַ֨יִם וָחֵ֜צִי אָרְכּ֗וֹ וְאַמָּ֤ה וָחֵ֙צִי֙ רָחְבּ֔וֹ וְאַמָּ֥ה וָחֵ֖צִי קֹמָתֽוֹ׃

The external dimensions of the Ark of The Covenant were 2.5x1.5x1.5 cubits, not including the gold overlay:

2 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
‎2 ‏וַיְצַפֵּ֛הוּ זָהָ֥ב טָה֖וֹר מִבַּ֣יִת וּמִח֑וּץ וַיַּ֥עַשׂ ל֛וֹ זֵ֥ר זָהָ֖ב סָבִֽיב׃

The Ark was completely overlayed with gold, including the inside and the bottom side of the Ark:

As you can see from this image, the walls of the Ark(including the gold overlay) were not very thick - about a figerbreadth or ~0.0225 cubits

The special Golden Crown (or rather molding) of pure solid gold was made for the top of the Ark. It was relatively thin, probably around ~1-2mm, and 8-10cm tall, rectangular in overall shape.

Here is the rendering of the Ark with its Golden Crown on top of it:

And here is a close-up view of one of the top corners of the Ark and its Golden Crown:

3 And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it.
‎3 ‏וַיִּצֹ֣ק ל֗וֹ אַרְבַּע֙ טַבְּעֹ֣ת זָהָ֔ב עַ֖ל אַרְבַּ֣ע פַּעֲמֹתָ֑יו וּשְׁתֵּ֣י טַבָּעֹ֗ת עַל־צַלְעוֹ֙ הָֽאֶחָ֔ת וּשְׁתֵּי֙ טַבָּע֔וֹת עַל־צַלְע֖וֹ הַשֵּׁנִֽית׃

Four(4) Golden Rings were made for the Ark and its Staves, so it could be carried around. These Rings were relatively small, yet they were thick enough to handle the weight of the Ark. I have not had a chance to do the calculations yet, but it appears that these Rings were tube-shaped, ~ 5cm in outside diameter, ~3-4 cm in inside diameter and ~4-5 cm in length.
I will try to calculate a more precise dimensions of these Rings in my next posts, but for now here is the rendering of these four Rings:

These Golden Rings were mounted onto the Ark along its width, on two of its shorter sides, like so:

And here is a straight-up view upon the Ark, so that you can see all of the Four Golden Rings at once:

These Golden Rings were most likely mounted one(1) cubits off the bottom of the Ark, since such positioning of the Rings would provide an efficient balance and distribution of the weight of the Ark during its transport.

4 And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.

‎4 ‏וַיַּ֥עַשׂ בַּדֵּ֖י עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים וַיְצַ֥ף אֹתָ֖ם זָהָֽב׃

As you can see, there were two(2) relatively long wooden poles made for the Ark, to Serve as its Carrying Staves during its transport.

These Staves were made out of Shittim Wood, and then overlayed with Gold, resulting in Golden Plated Staves that were probably 9-10 cubits long, 3-4cm in diameter(a hand grip diameter). Here is the rendering of these overlayed Staves:

5 And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.

‎5 ‏וַיָּבֵ֤א אֶת־הַבַּדִּים֙ בַּטַּבָּעֹ֔ת עַ֖ל צַלְעֹ֣ת הָאָרֹ֑ן לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־הָאָרֹֽן׃

These golden plated Staves were put into the Golden Rings on the sides of the Ark, like so:

6 And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

‎6 ‏וַיַּ֥עַשׂ כַּפֹּ֖רֶת זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר אַמָּתַ֤יִם וָחֵ֙צִי֙ אָרְכָּ֔הּ וְאַמָּ֥ה וָחֵ֖צִי רָחְבָּֽהּ׃

The Top Cover(or Lid) of the Ark, also known as "Kaporet" (heb.) or the Mercy Seat, was a relatively thin slab of solid pure gold 2.5x1.5 cubits in its dimensions (matching the measurements of the Ark).
The description does not provide its thickness, however it is almost certain that it could not have been more than ~1cm, as it would make the Lid of the Ark very heavy and hard to move.

7 And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;

‎7 ‏וַיַּ֛עַשׂ שְׁנֵ֥י כְרֻבִ֖ים זָהָ֑ב מִקְשָׁה֙ עָשָׂ֣ה אֹתָ֔ם מִשְּׁנֵ֖י קְצ֥וֹת הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת׃
The Lid of the Ark was cast in a shape of a rectangular slab with a relatively small and unformed "human-like" shapes on the edges of its shorter sides, on top of the Lid.
Later, these "shapes" would be beaten into Cherubs, completing the Lid. It is a common technique in metallurgy and here is how it might have looked like: 

8 One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.


‎8 ‏כְּרוּב־אֶחָ֤ד מִקָּצָה֙ מִזֶּ֔ה וּכְרוּב־אֶחָ֥ד מִקָּצָ֖ה מִזֶּ֑ה מִן־הַכַּפֹּ֛רֶת עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הַכְּרֻבִ֖ים מִשְּׁנֵ֥י קְצוֹתָֽיו׃  

And once the Cherubims were formed, the completed Lid of the Ark would look somewhat like this:


And here is the cross section view of the Lif of the Ark. As you can see, the cross section of the flat part of the Lid was solid, but the Cherubims parts of the Lid were hollow and of a beaten work:

9 And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.
‎9 ‏וַיִּהְי֣וּ הַכְּרֻבִים֩ פֹּרְשֵׂ֨י כְנָפַ֜יִם לְמַ֗עְלָה סֹֽכְכִ֤ים בְּכַנְפֵיהֶם֙ עַל־הַכַּפֹּ֔רֶת וּפְנֵיהֶ֖ם אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־אָחִ֑יו אֶל־הַכַּפֹּ֔רֶת הָי֖וּ פְּנֵ֥י הַכְּרֻבִֽים׃ פ

 These Cherubims had four(4) wings each, shaped as if they were trying to cover(hide) the Lid from view.

The faces of the Cherubim were looking down upon the flat part of the Lid, probably toward the center of the Lid.

Before the Lid of the Ark could be installed on top of it, the Two Stone Tablets with the Ten Commandments(aka Ten Sayings - the Decalogue) were put inside the Ark, like so:

And finally, the Lid of the Ark would be put on top of the Ark, resulting in this complete artefact:

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