Items in the Ark of the Covenant


"(The priests) serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” (Heb. 8:5)

“Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat …” (Heb. 9:3-5)

Question for all you Old Testament experts. :cool:

There were three holy objects stored in the Ark of the Covenant. They were the manna, Aaron’s staff, and the tablets of stone. Now, the epistle to the Hebrews says that these items served as a symbol (shadow) of the real temple which is in heaven.

OK, here’s my question: Exactly what did each of these objects represent? What was the ‘type.’? Please limit discussion to the three items in the Ark.

Thoughts appreciated. :slight_smile:



The Ark, Mary. The manna, the eucharist. Aaron’s staff, priesthood. The tablets of stone, the commandments. Where is it now?


The three items mentioned all seem to point to Jesus Christ. The manna or bread from heaven points to Jesus, the true, living bread from heaven. (John 6). The tablets of stone inscribed with the words of God point to Jesus, the eternal Word of God who became flesh. (John 1) There was some contention over the office of priest in the Old Testament, in Numbers 16 and 17, and one of the ways God confirmed the priesthood of Aaron was by causing Aaron’s staff to sprout; throughout the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus is identified as our high priest, the high priest of the New Covenant.

See Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant.


I agree with all the posters above, but I have read that the items in the Ark are to remind us of our sin:

–The manna fell because God was angry with the Israelites’ complaints
–The rod of Aaron budded after God was angered due to the people’s doubt of the priesthood succession which God himself had chosen.
–The tablets of the law, because we have broken his law.

All of these items are placed in the Ark and are covered by the Mercy Seat, because God has mercy on us, and has covered over and forgiven our sin by the blood of Christ.


Ten Commandments=Word of God=Christ.
Jar of Manna=Bread of Life=Christ
Aaron’s staff=Eternal High Priest=Christ

Ark of the Covenant=vessel bearing Christ=guess who?


This is 100% correct.

Christ is the temple in Heaven. Word/Logos, Bread/Food, Kingship/Authority. It all points to Christ.

…and the Ark. :slight_smile:



And if we see that the Ark had to be made of incorruptible acacia wood and pure gold inside and out solely on the basis of mere symbols, what does that tell us of the Mother of the one who bore God himself?


I have an absolutely gorgeous gift-styled book called “The Mishkan (the Tabernacle) Its structure and its Sacred vessels” by Rabbi Avrohom Biderman. In it, he speaks about the Ark of the Covenant. He quotes the great Rashi, who says that the Ark was constructed with 3 different sized boxes-each of which fitted into the other. The middle box being made of wood, the other two being gold. This goes way back into Jewish tradition. How symbolic is it, that the middle box–symbolically the 2nd person of the Godhead, should be made of wood, typifying the wood of the cross?

And also, the Ark of the covenant was carried by poles, which could never been removed. In Jewish tradition, the Ark of the Covenant symbolizes the throne of God. How appropriate is it then, that the poles, which can never be removed, typify Christ? We must always approach the Throne of God through Christ…that is God’s eternal covenant which will never be removed.

The Ark of the Covenant is so rich in its symbolism, depicting so many aspects of God and His plan of Salvation for us. We could never comprehend it all.

Blessed be He.



To add to what they’ve said.

The Way = Shepherd/Staff
The Truth = Commandments/Law
The Life = Eucharist/Manna


I love the imagery here, porthos…

And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. (2 Samuel 2:6-7)

No man was to touch the ark just as no man was to touch the ever virgin Mary.



“The tablets of stone inscribed with the words of God point to Jesus, the eternal Word of God who became flesh.”

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh”


This is a big topic so I will only give some quick notes. The tablets were made by human hands, of stone from the earth, but were written on by the finger of God in heaven. Jesus’ body, like the stone, was of earthly origin (from His mother Mary) while His message and being (the Word of God) were of heavenly origin.
The tablets were stored in the tent of meeting set up before the ark of the covenant was made when the tablets were brought down from the mountain. Tent of meeting was set up outside the camp immediately upon the tablets being brought down to earth. Joshua (translated Jesus in the LXX) Moses’ assistant who came down from heaven by coming down the mountain, never left the tent (Ex 33:7-11). The tablets remained in the tent of meeting for 8.5 months (time from conception until birth) until the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle were set up and dedicated in the first month of the second year of the Exodus. Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim would have to leave at that time because he was not a priest and was not allowed in the tabernacle. The tent of meeting represented Mary pregnant with Joshua/Jesus the Word of God the ark of the covenant represents Mary not pregnant. The travels and times of the Ark of the Covenant represent the times and travels of Mary. For example the Ark remained in foreign lands for 7 months, I believe represent the 7 months the holy family remained out side of Israel, passing through the philistine territory on the way to and from Egypt.
I believe the other two items the manna and staff were not “in” the ark of the covenant but “before” the ark, because that is where the scripture says they were and because they would probably not fit inside.

The manna was stored in a golden vessel called an omer for it size because the size was such that it would hold the amount of grain from a sheaf of grain. The grain and manna were both unleavened, representing without sin, because leaven represents sin. The Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church is always unleavened depicting Jesus as without sin. This manna was collected long before the ark was built, I believe it also was placed in the tent of meeting. Manna clearly depicts the bread of life from heaven, but was not the true Bread of Life. Jesus is the true Bread of Life.

The rod of Aaron that budded at least partially represented the Cross of Christ.
The rod that budded was before the rod that swallowed the serpents (Ex 7:12) that turned the Nile to blood, etc. And as a almond rod that bloomed and fruited it represents the tree of life, but Jesus’ cross is the true tree of life and Jesus is the Fruit on that tree.

I think you should also ask:
Why the crown on the ark of the covenant?
Why the 4 rings/seals on the 4 corners?
Why the two golden poles attached to the seal rings?
Grace and peace,


Who believes it is still on earth somewhere, intact?


Another article
Mary, Ark of the New Covenant.



Great thread.


Interestingly there is a claim made that there is an ark of the covenant located at Aksum in Ethiopia. When the Jews went to Egypt they built a complete new temple Onias. Jeremiah 42. They built a brand new Ark for their brand new temple. It is this which ended up in Ethiopia when the people were pushed further south.

But there are actually some who believe this to be the real thing, and it was this replica story which was probably woven into the Indiana Jones story.


[quote=Darryl B]Interestingly there is a claim made that there is an ark of the covenant located at Aksum in Ethiopia. When the Jews went to Egypt they built a complete new temple Onias. Jeremiah 42. They built a brand new Ark for their brand new temple.

Another legend says Jeremiah transported the ark of the Covt. to Ireland. Hmmm. :irish3:


That certainly does sound cooler than my anecedote, my friend from Putaruru(?)


I was trying to be incognito. :whistle: Have we bumped into eachother or just on the Internet?


My friend, we have only met here, your join date was just before mine, I just have an unfortunate memory that I wish I didn’t have. Sometimes I drive through Putaruru, and remember all the people I know from Putaruru. The place has certainly become nice over the last little while. God bless you my friend. And I apologize for the digression.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit