The ark of the covenant (Acts 7:45)

“Our ancestors,

In turn,

Brought in

The ark of the covenant

With Joshua,

When they took possession

Of the nations

That God drove out

Before the face

Of our ancestors.

It was there

Until the days of David.”

ἣν καὶ εἰσήγαγον διαδεξάμενοι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ κατασχέσει τῶν ἐθνῶν, ὧν ἐξῶσεν ὁ Θεὸς ἀπὸ προσώπου τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν ἕως τῶν ἡμερῶν Δαυείδ·

The author of Acts indicated that Stephen said that their common ancestors (οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν), in turn (διαδεξάμενοι), brought the ark of the covenant into (ἣν καὶ εἰσήγαγον) Canaan with Joshua (μετὰ Ἰησοῦ) when they took possession (ἐν τῇ κατασχέσει) of the nations (τῶν ἐθνῶν) that God (ὁ Θεὸς) drove out (ὧν ἐξῶσεν) before the face (ἀπὸ προσώπου) of their ancestors (τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν).  It was there until the days of David (ἡμῶν ἕως τῶν ἡμερῶν Δαυείδ).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word διαδεξάμενοι, that means to receive in turn or receive through another.  Acts was also the only Greek biblical writing that used this word κατασχέσει, that means holding fast or a possession, and the word ἐξῶσεν, that means to thrust out, drive out, expel, or propel.  This was based on Joshua, chapter 3:14-17, where the priests carried the ark of the covenant across the Jordan River into Canaan.  Stephen said that God had driven out these nations or tribes in Canaan, before they went to battle with them and took possession of their land.  However, the ark of the covenant did not have a permanent home until the time of King David.  Stephen was very good at showing the ancient history of Israel.  What do you know about the history of your religion?

The return from the Exile (Jer 3:15-3:18)

“‘I will give you shepherds

After my own heart.

They will feed you

With knowledge.

They will feed you

With understanding.

When you have multiplied,

You will have increased in the land.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

They shall no more say.

‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’

It shall not come to mind.

It will not be remembered.

It will not be missed.

There will not be another one made.

At that time

Jerusalem shall be called

The throne of Yahweh.

All nations shall gather to it.

In the presence of Yahweh,

In Jerusalem,

They shall no more stubbornly follow

Their own evil will.

In those days

The house of Judah shall

Join the house of Israel.

Together they shall come

From the land of the north

To the land that I gave your ancestors

For a heritage.’”

Yahweh speaks via Jeremiah about what was going to happen in the future after they returned from the Exile. They would have good shepherd rulers with knowledge and understanding leading them. They would increase and multiply in the promised land of their ancestors.   In a strange sort of comment, the Ark of the Covenant would be replaced by the city of Jerusalem as the throne of Yahweh. Somehow they were going to forget and not miss the Ark of the Covenant. Many nations would come to Jerusalem. This sounds like it was written at the time of the Exile about a future hope for Jerusalem. The returned Israelites would no longer follow their own evil ways, as the house of Judah would come together with the northern tribes of Israel. They would enjoy the land that was given to them as the heritage of their ancestors.

God is good to the righteous (Ps 73:1-73:2)

A psalm of Asaph

“Truly God is good to the upright.

He is good to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me,

My feet had almost stumbled.

My steps had nearly slipped.”

The 3rd book of psalms begins with Psalm 73 from Asaph. In fact, there are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph, Psalm 50, and the next 11 psalms at the beginning of this 3rd book of psalms. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him who were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This psalm seems to be a consideration of justice and why did the evildoers prosper much like in the book of Job. There is the common statement that God is good to the upright and the pure of heart. However, this Asaph has almost stumbled. He has almost slipped.

The law is placed before the Ark of the Covenant (Deut 31:24-31:27)

“When Moses had finished writing down in a book the words of this law to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh, ‘Take this book of the law. Put it beside the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God. Let it remain there as a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. If you already have been so rebellious toward Yahweh while I am still alive among you, how much more after my death!’”

When Moses finished writing the book of the law, he wanted it placed beside the Ark of the Covenant that contained the 2 tablets with the 10 Commandments. These Mosaic observances are on put on a par with the 10 Commandments from Mt. Sinai which are already in Ark of the Covenant. Once again, it is not clear if this is the whole Torah or just this book of Deuteronomy, but it is clearly more than the 10 Commandments. Moses warned if they were rebellious now how much more would it be after his death.

The Ark of the Covenant (Deut 10:1-10:5)

“At that time Yahweh said to me. ‘Carve out two tablets of stone like the former ones. Come up to me on the mountain. Make an ark of wood. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets that you smashed. You shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood. I cut two tablets of stone like the former ones. I then went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. There he wrote on the tablets the same words as before, the Ten Commandments that Yahweh had spoken to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly. Yahweh gave them to me. So I turned and came down from the mountain. I put the tablets in the ark that I had made. There they are, as Yahweh commanded me.”

This is the reason for the Ark of the Covenant and how it came to be. Yahweh asked for 2 new stones to make up for the smashed stones. The exact size of the ark can be found in Exodus, chapters 25, 32, 34, and 37, where the various descriptions about the sanctuary items are detailed. Here Moses makes the wooden box, while in Exodus, chapter 37, it is Bezalel, the artisan, who makes the elaborate Ark of the Covenant, following the orders of Moses. Moses went up the mountain with the two blank tablets. Yahweh then rewrote the 10 commandments. Then Moses came down with the tablets. This time he put them in the acacia wooden Ark of the Covenant. Thus the Ark of the Covenant became very important because it literally contained the stone tablets with Yahweh’s finger written words of the 10 commandments.