THE ARK OF THE COVENANT is the focus of this week’s study. Contrary to Raiders of the Lost Ark, no, it was not a radio to talk to God.
The ark was, in fact, God’s throne. He sat above the mercy seat, between the cherubim—who, by the way, looked more like sphinxes than the effeminate angels typically portrayed by artists.
Cherubim, and similar throne guardians such as the lamassu of Assyria and the griffins of Egypt and the Hittites, were well known in ancient Mesopotamia. The Hebrew name of the creatures probably derives from the Assyrian kirubu. In all cases, however, the purpose of these entities was the same–they guarded the thrones of the gods.
Scholar Scott B. Noegel argues that we can get a better understanding of the ark by analyzing the sacred bark of Egypt. It resembled a boat, but was rarely, if ever, put in water. According to Noegel, “its purpose was to transport a god or a mummy and sometimes to dispense oracles.” You can read his paper “The Egyptian Origin of the Ark of the Covenant” by clicking here (opens a PDF document).
This is not to say that Moses copied the Hebrew religion from Egypt, Assyria, or the Hittites. Rather, God directed Moses to construct the Ark of the Testimony as a polemic against the counterfeit religions and iconography of the pagan nations around ancient Israel.
We also discuss the design of the tabernacle and the significance of the colors and types of metal used in its construction. While it’s usually depicted as a rectangular structure, engineer Andrew Hoy has proposed a different shape altogether for the tabernacle based on the description in Exodus. You can hear Derek’s interview with Hoy on his book The House of El Shaddai by clicking here.
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