Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Hebrew noun ארון (ʾarōn) or ארן (ʾaron) is the word for "ark" as in the "the ark (ארון) of the covenant of the LORD," mentioned in Deuteronomy 31:9. According to Exodus 25, the ark was made of acacia wood, overlayed in gold, carried by two poles, was topped with the mercy seat and two cherubim, and contained the tablets of the covenant. While the Hebrew Bible only describes the ark as storing the tablets of the covenant, according to Hebrews 9:4, the ark also held "a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant." Numbers 7:89 states that the presence of the Lord would rest upon the mercy seat of the ark: "When Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he would hear the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark (ארן) of the covenant from between the two cherubim; thus it spoke to him." The ark was also a prominent fixture in scenes of conquest, as can be seen in Joshua's instructions before the capture of Jericho in Joshua 6:6–7, "'Take up the ark (ארון) of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark (ארון) of the LORD.' To the people he said, 'Go forward and march around the city; have the armed men pass on before the ark (ארון) of the LORD'."

The word ארון (ʾarōn) is not just used to describe the ark, but appears in the description of two other types of wooden boxes—the "coffin" of Joseph in Genesis 50:26: "And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffinארון) in Egypt"; and a wooden "chest" made for the collection of money in 2 Kings 12:9: "Then the priest Jehoiada took a chest (ארון), made a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD; the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD." It also is important to note that ארון (ʾarōn) is not the word as used to describe the boat constructed by Noah in Genesis. Instead, it is word תבה (tevah) that is translated as "ark" in the account of the flood. (Read "Why Put Baby Moses in a Basket?" for more on the word תבה (tevah).)