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The Ark of the Covenant is one of the furnishings of the Tabernacle and the Temple. It was the most important piece of furniture in the Israelite temples and it was the centerpiece. What made this furnishing so significant, the very being of God dwelled within/around it [1][2].



The Ark of the Covenant was ordered to be crafted by God, while Moses was receiving instructions on specifications for the Tabernacle's furniture [3]. God appointed craftsman, Bezalel and Oholiab, specifically to create the furnishings as instructed [4].

Crossing the Jordan[]

When Israel (being lead by Joshua) was preparing to cross the Jordan River, the Israelites were instructed to follow the Ark of the Covenant when they saw it being moved [5]. They would follow it in order to know where they would be going. Also they were instructed keep approximately 900 meters away from the Ark, except for the Levites carrying it [6].

When the time arrived, the Ark train went ahead and began moving [7]. Joshua continually made sure the Israelites were aware of the Ark ahead of them and made sure those carrying the Ark stood in the river as instructed [8].

As soon as the Levites touched the river with Ark in their hands, the River dried up [9]. Since the River was dry, Israel crossed near Jericho (in order to stay away from the Ark), and the Levites kept the Ark in the middle until everyone had crossed [10].

Capture by the Philistines[]


At one point the Israelites fought a battle with the Philistines [11]. After the Israelites had suffered a loss, they decided to bring the Ark from the civilian campgrounds in Shiloh to their military camp in order to have God's presence [12]. Several men went to Shiloh and brought with them the Ark of the Covenant and the Levites Hophni and Phinehas were entrusted with the care of the Ark [13]. With the Ark in the army's campground the motivation and excitement was so great the ground shook [14].

The Philistines hearing the loud war cry of the Israelites eventually discovered that the Ark was in the enemy's camp [15]. Being aware that God dwelled within the Ark [2], the Philistines became fearful of what God could to do them [16], because of the plagues that had been done unto Egypt [17]. In order to keep themselves from becoming subject to the Israelites, the Philistines resumed fighting [18]. The Philistines attacked the Israelites inflicted heavy losses, leading many men to flee to their homes [19]. The Philistines took the Israelite's military camp and in the process slaughtered Phineas and Hophni (the Ark's guardians) and then took the Ark [20].

One of the retreating men arrived back at Shiloh and explained to Eli, the priest, all that had happened [21]. Upon hearing that the Ark had been stolen Eli fell back and his chair in despair and broke his neck and thus died [22]. Phineas's pregnant wife (Eli's daughter-in-law) heard the news of her loved one's death and the theft of the Ark. In her sadness she went into labor but was killed by her pains [23]. As she died she named her newborn son Ichabod because Israel had lost the Ark [24].

Philistine Occupation[]

The Philistines then took the ark to Ashdod [25]. It was placed in the Philistine temple next to a statue of Dagon [26]. The next morning the people arose only to find Dagon's statue fallen on his face appearing to be bowing to the Ark. He was raised back up and left [27]. The next morning, the priests came to find the statue bowing before the Ark again except with it's hands and feet broken off [28]. In addition, the temple was infested with rats and priests got infected with tumors [29]. The Philistines realized that God was afflicting them because of the presence of the Ark [30]. Therefore they decided to move the Ark to Gath [31] in order to keep the valuable treasure under the possession without experiencing the curses.

After moving the Ark to Gath, both the young and the elderly experienced tumors [32]. So the Ark was moved to Ekron [33]. When the people of Ekron saw the Ark being moved into the city, they became fearful that they would die. So the Philistine elders decided to send it back to Israel [34] since it had caused to many issues and large sums of Ekron's citizens were killed or they were inflicted with tumors [35].

Returned to Israel[]

The Ark had been held captive by the Philistines for seven months [36], and so the priests of the nation came together to decide how to send it back to Israel without experiencing further harm [37]. It was decided by the priests to send back a guilt offering [38] of five gold rats and five gold tumors with the Ark [39]. These items were to model the incidents that happened to the Philistines [40].

They prepared two cows [41] and harnessed them to a cart where they put the Ark, as well as the chest containing the offerings [42]. The hitched the cows and the cows went straight to Beth Shemesh [43], which was bordering Israelite land.

When they arrived at Beth Shemesh, the people rejoiced in seeing the Ark returned [44]. The cart stopped in a field and landed at large stone [45]. After making an offering with the cart's materials and the cows, Levites took the Ark and placed it on the rock [46]. Later that day God killed a total of seventy men for trying to look and get close to the Ark [47].

After this Kohathites were sent for [48] in order to retrieve the Ark [49]. So the men arrived and retrieved the Ark and took it up to Abinadab's house where they assigned Eleazar to protect the Ark [50]. The Ark of the Covenant would remain there for twenty years [51].

Moving the Ark to Jerusalem[]

Delayed to Obed-Edom[]

After remaining in Abinadab's house twenty years [51], David decided to order the army to bring the Ark of the Covenant from the house in Judah and finally bring it to Jerusalem [52]. God's Ark was set on a new cart and was carried from the hill where Abinadab lived [53]. Two men, Uzzah and Ahio guided the Ark. When they arrived at a threshing floor in Nakon, the oxen pulling the Ark stumbled and Uzzah reached out to catch it [54]. For Uzzah's disobedience in touching the Ark, wrath was extended upon him, and he was struck dead [55].

David was both fearful as well as angry with God for striking Uzzah dead [56]. So he decided to delay the Ark's transportation to Jerusalem, and instead had it taken to nearby Obed-Edom's house [57]. It remained in Obed-Edom's house three months [58].

Brought to the prepared place[]

After the three months, David pitched a tent in Jerusalem for the Ark of the Covenant to be placed [59]. He ordered the Ark to be brought to Jerusalem from Obed-Edom's house, but only the Levites were allowed to carry it [60]. They brought the Ark to Jerusalem and had a large musical festival with singing and dancing on the way up [61].

A music ministry was also created, lead by Asaph and sixty-nine other musicians who played music to God in the Ark and events related to it.

While David was on his way up, Michal saw David in his linen garment (not fit for the King to be seen with his people) as he was dancing in the recession of bringing the Ark of the Covenant, and this angered her[62] .

Brought to the Temple[]

Several decades later, after Solomon had built the Temple, Solomon ordered the proper Israelites to move the Ark into the Temple[63]. The Israelite priests arrived.


It is a chest made of acacia wood [64] overlaid with gold with gold molding around it [65]. It is 2.5 cubits (3.74 feet; 1.14 meters) long, 1.5 cubits (2.23 feet, 68 centimeters) wide, and 1.5 cubits high [64]. The lid or "atonement cover", covered in pure gold, was 1.14 meters long and 68 centimeters wide [66]. It has two cherubim made of hammered gold on it [67], each with their wings outspread and touching each other [68], and each with their faces toward each other [69]. Between these two cherubim Moses would meet with God [1].

At the bottom face of the Ark four golden rings adorned each corner, there being two each side [70]. The Ark is carried by poles made of acacia wood that are overlaid with gold [71], which are inserted into the rings that are at the legs of the Ark in order to carry it [72].

It carries the two stone tablets of the ten commandments [73], and a golden jar of manna [74] and Aaron's budded staff [75][76]. The Ark was placed in the sanctuary room[77] where God dwelled among the Israelites [2].

List of Locations[]

The following table contains a list of all the locations where the Ark of the Covenant is explicitly described to have been placed for any period of time.

Location Length Verse w/


Shiloh Yes
Between Ebenzer and Aphek No
Temple of Dagon, Ashdod, Philistia Less than seven months No
Gath, Philistia Less than seven months No
Ekron, Philistia Less than seven months No Ark spent a total of seven months in Philistine territory (1 Sam 6:1)
House of Amminadab, Kiriath-jearim 20 years No
House of Obed-Edom 3 months No
Tabernacle in Jerusalem Estimated ~ 30-40 years Yes
Solomon's Temple, Jerusalem Approximately ~ 414 years No


  1. 1.0 1.1 Exodus 25:22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Exodus 25:8
  3. Exodus 25:9 (Link)
  4. Exodus 31:1-6,11 (Link)
  5. Joshua 3:3 (Link)
  6. Joshua 3:4 (Link)
  7. Joshua 3:6 (Link)
  8. Joshua 3:8-13 (Link)
  9. Joshua 3:14-16 (Link)
  10. Joshua 3:17 (Link)
  11. 1 Samuel 4:1-2 (Link)
  12. 1 Samuel 4:3 (Link)
  13. 1 Samuel 4:4 (Link)
  14. 1 Samuel 4:5 (Link)
  15. 1 Samuel 4:6 (Link)
  16. 1 Samuel 4:6-7 (Link)
  17. Exodus 7:14-11:10 (Link)
  18. 1 Samuel 4:9 (Link)
  19. 1 Samuel 4:10 (Link)
  20. 1 Samuel 4:11 (Link)
  21. 1 Samuel 4:12-17 (Link)
  22. 1 Samuel 4:18 (Link)
  23. 1 Samuel 4:19 (Link)
  24. 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (Link)
  25. 1 Samuel 5:1 (Link)
  26. 1 Samuel 5:2 (Link)
  27. 1 Samuel 3:3 (Link)
  28. 1 Samuel 5:4 (Link)
  29. 1 Samuel 5:6 (Link)
  30. 1 Samuel 5:7 (Link)
  31. 1 Samuel 5:8 (Link)
  32. 1 Samuel 5:9 (Link)
  33. 1 Samuel 5:10 (Link)
  34. 1 Samuel 5:11 (Link)
  35. 1 Samuel 5:12 (Link)
  36. 1 Samuel 6:1 (Link)
  37. 1 Samuel 6:2 (Link)
  38. 1 Samuel 6:3 (Link)
  39. 1 Samuel 6:4 (Link)
  40. 1 Samuel 6:5 (Link)
  41. 1 Samuel 6:7, 10 (Link)
  42. 1 Samuel 6:8,11 (Link)
  43. 1 Samuel 6:9,12 (Link)
  44. 1 sam 6:13 (Link)
  45. 1 Sam 6:14 (Link)
  46. 1 Sam 6:15 (Link)
  47. 1 Sam 6:19 (Link)
  48. 1 Sam 6:20-21 (Link)
  49. Num 4:15 (Link)
  50. 1 Sam 7:1 (Link)
  51. 51.0 51.1 1 Sam 7:2
  52. 2 Sam 6:1-2 (Link)
  53. 2 Sam 6:3, 1 Chr 13:7 (Link)
  54. 2 Sam 6:6, 1 Chr 13:9 (Link)
  55. 2 Sam 6:7, 1 Chr 13:10 (Link)
  56. 2 Sam 6:8-9, 1 Chr 13:11-12 (Link)
  57. 2 Sam 6:10, 1 Chr 13:13 (Link)
  58. 2 Sam 6:11, 1 Chr 13:14 (Link)
  59. 1 Chr 15:1 (Link)
  60. 1 Chr 15:2, 2 Sam 6:12 (Link)
  61. 1 Chr 15:16-28, 2 Sam 6:14-15 (Link)
  62. 2 Sam 6:20-22, 1 Chr 15:29 (Link)
  63. 2 Chr 5:2, 1 Kings 8:1 (Link)
  64. 64.0 64.1 Exodus 25:10, 37:1
  65. Exodus 25:11, 37:2 (Link)
  66. Exodus 25:17, 37:6 (Link)
  67. Exodus 25:18, 37:8 (Link)
  68. Exodus 25:19, 37:9 (Link)
  69. Exo 25:21 (Link)
  70. Exodus 25:12, 37:3 (Link)
  71. Exodus 25:13, 37:4 (Link)
  72. Exodus 25:14-15, 37:5 (Link)
  73. Exodus 25:16 (Link)
  74. Exodus 16:32-34 (Link)
  75. Numbers 17:10 (Link)
  76. Hebrews 9:4 (Link)
  77. 1 Kings 8:6, Exodus 26:33, 2 Samuel 6:17 (Link)