Holy of Holies


Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but after the Philistines captured the Ark, what was in its place in the Temple?


Do you mean on this occasion from 1Samuel?

“So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home; and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 And the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”


To be honest, I’m not sure, haha. I went to a Latin Mass today and because I was a little late and the acoustics in the Church are bad I couldn’t make out the Homily but the priest’s quote was something like this,

“Of course the Ark of the covenant was no longer in the temple at the time of Jesus, having been captured by the Philistines and instead ___________ had replaced it in the Holy of Holies…”

It’s the one word I couldn’t hear.:confused:


Are you asking what the arc had inside? I remember three things. The staff of Moses, Torah? I think and something else?


I may not be understanding the question, but the when the ark was taken from the temple after the Babylonian captivity, the Holy of Holies was empty from then on to my understanding.

There is this link that you may find interesting:



No, I know what was in the Ark, but once the Ark was gone, I want to know what replaced it in the temple?


From the link to the Jewish Ency. provided by Sousley’s post #5:In the Second Temple, details of the construction of which are not preserved in the Biblical documents (Ezra vi. 3 mentions dimensions), the Holy of Holies was curtained off (I. Macc. i. 22, iv. 51). It was empty, except for a stone three fingers in breadth on which the high priest deposited the censer (Josephus, “B. J.” v. 55; Yoma v. 2).

In the Herodian temple

According to Maimonides (“Yad,” Bet ha-Beḥirah, iv. 1; see Yoma 23a), in the Holy of Holies of theTabernacle was a stone on which the Ark rested; before it was placed the flask of manna and Aaron’s staff. Solomon made a depression in order that these objects might, if necessary, be hidden therein, which was done by Josiah (comp. Hor. 12a; Ker. 5b; Yoma 21a, 52a).


I’m thinking I misheard about the philistines. It had to have been after the destruction of the first temple. Thanks for the answers so far.



It’s possible the priest just made a slip and said “Philistines” instead of “Babylonians”.


"The Ark of the Covenant is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 25. Following Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, God instructs Moses to build a Tabernacle (or tent) in which the Israelites will worship God. Placed in a special area known as “the Holy of Holies,” the Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred object in the Tabernacle. Detailed instructions were given by God to construct the Ark. It was to be made with acacia wood and overlaid with gold. Dimensionally, the Ark was to be 2.5 cubits (1 cubit is approximately 18 in.) long and 1.5 cubits wide and high. Atop the Ark were two gold cherubs that stood with their wings covering an area of the Ark known as the “Mercy Seat.”

The Ark of the Covenant contained three items of extreme significance to the Israelites. The first was two stone tablets bearing the divine inscription of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments formed the foundation of God’s covenant with Israel, commonly referred to as “The Law” (Exodus 31). The second item in the Ark was the rod of Aaron. God miraculously caused Aaron’s rod to bud with blossoms to show the rest of the tribes of Israel that it was God’s will for Aaron to be in charge of the Priesthood (Numbers 17). The last item was a golden pot of manna. Manna was the starchy food God miraculously provided for the Israelites during their 40 years of desert wanderings (Exodus 16).

The Ark of the Covenant was where God manifested His presence on earth. The Ark went ahead of the Israelites wherever they traveled. Not only was it the center of worship when it resided in the tabernacle, but the Ark also protected the Israelites in battle, supernaturally defeating any adversaries that came before them (Joshua 6:3-4). The Israelites also went to the Ark to seek God’s guidance and wisdom for the nation (Numbers 7:89, Exodus 25:22).

Ark of the Covenant: A Temporary Means of Forgiveness The Ark of the Covenant was more than just a special furnishing with supernatural powers – It was also the Israelites’ means of relating to God. The Ark of the Covenant could only be approached once a year by the high priest on “Yum Kippur”- the Jewish Day of Atonement. On this day, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. It was also only on this day that God’s presence manifested between the two Cherubs. The high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrificed lamb on the Mercy Seat. Once received by God, the blood of the lamb atoned (covered) for the sins of the high priest and the entire nation of Israel. This ritual was performed continuously, year after year. The Ark of the Covenant played a key role in the forgiveness of sins.

Ark of the Covenant: Foreshadowing the Coming Messiah"

The Philistines took the Ark back to Ashdod, their capital city in the south of Canaan, where they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. The next day, however, they found the idol fallen on its face. After replacing the statue, they found it the next day decapitated, with only its trunk remaining, and soon afterward, the entire city of Ashdod was struck with a plague. The Philistines moved the Ark to the city of Gath, and from there to Ekron, but whatever city the Ark was in, the inhabitants were struck with plague. After seven months, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites, and accompanied it with expensive gifts. The Ark was taken back to Beit Shemesh, and, according to midrash, the oxen pulling the Ark burst into song as soon as it was once again in Israel’s possession (A.Z. 22b). The actual text of the story, however, tells a much grimmer tale: The men of Beit Shemesh were punished for staring disrespectfully at the Ark, and many were killed with a plague.

The Church of St. Mary. The Treasury that is said to contain the Ark is in the background on the left.

From Beit Shemesh, the Ark was transported to Kiryat Yearim, where it remained for twenty years. From there, King David transported it to Jerusalem. however, after the second babolonian conquest the location is largly unknown by modern study and scholars and the “modern” location is richly debated. The materials that the Ark was made of further support this theory: gold is one of the most powerful electrical conductors, and wood is an excellent insulator.

The only remnant of the Ark in Jewish life today is the Holy Ark in which Torah scrolls are kept in synagogues. These Arks often are decorated with copies of the Tablets, reminiscent of the contents of the actual Ark of ancient times. The Ark itself plays almost no role in Jewish life today. Nonetheless, it remains a potent symbol of the Jewish peoples’ past, and of the messianic era many believe is waiting in the future.

God bless


There was no Temple when the Philistines captured the Ark in 1 Samuel 5.

The Temple had not yet been built when the Ark was captured by the Philestines. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philestines when Solomon’s father David was king, before the Temple was built. The portable tent would have been used to house the Ark and it would have traveled with the tent and furnishings up until the time of King Solomon who was King David’s son.

It was King Solomon who built the Temple. The Ark of God was lost during the Babylonian captivity when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed.

A new “Second Temple” was built by Judas Maccabeus. The second Temple did not have an Ark but a large rock was placed where the lost Ark should have been.




I think the second temple was built by Zerubbabel after Cyrus allowed them to return to Jerusalem. Judas Maccabeus cleansed and rededicated the temple (feast of lights) after the desecration by Seleucids.


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