Mary as Ark of the Covenant

One argument in favor of the perpetual virginity of Mary is describing her as the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark in the Old Testament could not be touched by just anyone. How would you respond to someone who said she was no longer the Ark after Jesus was born? In that case, Joseph could have relations with her.

Interesting question

Well the argument would go along these lines.

You know what the Mosaic Law prescribed for marriages.

Mary was bethroted to Joseph that does not automatically means he could or would have “relations” with Mary. If she WAS a vowed virgin to GOD the marriage was mostly for the protection of the woman as we know what the status of an unwed woman was back in Jesus’s time.

Now she accepted to bare GOD’s son, via the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

We know Joseph could have rejected Mary after this event.

If he did not it probably means he accepted Mary’s explanation.

Now If after Jesus’s birth Mary decides she can now have relations with her husband does that not make her an adulterer?
What about Joseph, would he not be commiting sin by coveting the Holy Spirit’s spouse?

I would imagine that he would tremble at entertaining the mere thought of having intercourse with the mother of the son of GOD.

Yes, I can understand and follow the line of thought saying Mary would be an adulterer if she had relations with Joseph after Jesus was born. However, that doesn’t address the claim often made that Mary is the Ark of the Covenant and therefore untouchable. Is she or is she not the Ark of the Covenant after Jesus is born?

Mary is the Ark of the Covenant because she carried Jesus in her womb for 9 months. That didn’t change after he was born.

Actually, I remember now the explanation I heard, (I think from Scot Hahn but possibly from Tim Staples). Mary’s perpetual virginity is not simply in her function as the ark of the covenant, but because she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was not allowed to have relations with her because she was already espoused to the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18 “When [Jesus’] mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.”

Go to the following link and read the article on Mary’s perpetual virginity. It is powerful and persuasive.

Anyone who reads the Bible knows that the Ark of the Covenant contained a gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Later it was emptied but continued to be venerated as the very same Ark of the Covenant.

The Bible clearly states that Mary is the Ark of the Covenant.

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; (Revelation 11:19-12:1)

The Ark of the Covenant was Israel’s most prized possession. The word portent means marvelously wonderous thing.


Mary ceases to be “pregnant,” but it does not entirely grasp the typology if one restricts her figure as Ark only to the physical sign. Remember when Jesus healed the paralytic, he simultaneously said that the sign was shown so that they could believe the unseen sign that he had also forgiven the man’s sins (Matt. 9:6)

Mary is certainly recognizable as the “dwelling place of God” when she carries him in her womb. But does she cease to “carry the word” after Jesus is born? No, Mary keeps Jesus in her heart always.

Also, one of the typological signals regarding the Ark is in the words of David in the OT and Elizabeth (filled with the Holy Spirit) in the NT:*Sam. 6:9 How can the ark of the LORD come to me?
Luke 1:43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?*The type of the Ark corresponds to Mary as mother. Obviously, Mary does not cease to be Jesus’ mother after his birth. Scripture even refers to her as the Mother of Jesus much later as well.

And of course, as the above poster notes, Mary is associated with the Ark in heaven in Revelation 11-12.

The Arc never contained anything remotely as sacred as Jesus, yet if anyone touched it, they would die. My answer would be: I don’t think Joseph was foolish enough to defile the womb that had contained God Incarnate.

That is not the reason why she is a perpetual virgin. The reason is that she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

And anyways, I remember in Indiana Jones, that the original Jewish ark of the covenant was opened and it melted all the Nazis.So apparently, even after all these years it still had power. So why should Mary be any less after even less time as the ark? See! I gotcha on that one ::smiley:

Thanks. Can you show me where in the Old Testament the emptied Ark was venerated? Not that I doubt you, just wanting the exact reference.

From this thread, so far, I have come away with two points:

  1. One shouldn’t rely solely on Mary being the Ark of the Covenant as the reason for her perpetual virginity. The Holy Spirit being her spouse seems to carry more weight.

  2. Mary was still considered the Ark of the Covenant even after (and maybe before) she was pregnant with Jesus.

Hopefully I am on the right track.

I love it :smiley:

I read through some good responses. But, I’m going to try to stick to the argument of Mary being a type of Ark. There is two ways we can look at Mary being a type of Ark. She was like the vessel of Noah and she was like Moses Ark of the Covenant.

Vessel that traverses over dark waters:

In Jewish symbology, ‘dark waters’ represented death and sin. People where “they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day” in sin right up till the day the rains fell. Deep and dark waters brought them death, only Noah escaped in a vessel that brought him and eight others to the shores of life. Likewise, Mary was the vessel that carried Christ across the dark waters of time since Adam. Being Immaculate, never having known original sin or actual sin she brought the New Adam safely on to the shores of redemption .

A type Tabernacle Ark

Moses was ordered by God to build a Tabernacle. It contained an outer court and inner court. [Cf. Ex 25-31; 39-40]. Moses “commissioned” Beseleel, to be the architect of the tabernacle and its furnishings; he was the son of Uri and the grandson of Hur. Beseleel along with Ooliab who actually built the tabernacle. In viewing the Tabernacle we move from outside toward the inside we first find a structure surrounded by a wall. Only one gate faces the east, a narrow gate; prefiguring Christ’s warning, “narrow is the gate of righteousness.” The gate opens into the outer court in which we find the sacrificial altar and the bronze laver. On this altar is where the immolation of the perfect Lamb took place sacrificed.

The inner court has a antechamber containing the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, the Table of Shewbread (otherwise known as The Proposition Loaves), behind the veil was the Holy of Holies. In this most Holy place was the Ark of the Covenant

God took residence in a place made holy by his commands to Moses to keep the Tabernacle clean. The Ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:16, 22; 26:33, etc.), the Ark of the Testament (Exodus 30:26), the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord (Numbers 10:33; Deuteronomy 10:8, etc.), the Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 3:6, etc.), the Ark of God (1 Samuel 3:3, etc.), the Ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 4:6, etc.) was the Incarnate Word of God; the Hebrew would never suggest that it reside in an unholy place? Why then would Jesus, who is both man and God, the Word Incarnate, reside in any less a holy place? , The visible presence of God overshadowed the Ark of Moses; "And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days: and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud” [Exodus 24:16] Just as Mary was called out and overshadowed. When the Ark carried in David’s Jubilee David Jumped for Joy just as the baby in jumped in the womb of Elizabeth when the Ark in the person of Mary passed by. [Cf. Luke 1:44] It is said that Moses Ark carried the Covenant Law of God. Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant.

The spouse taken by God was made both spiritually and carnally pure. The flesh of the woman was purified and made immaculate, kept perpetually pure, though the grace of God, just as the Moses kept the tabernacle clean. The chaste spouse of God she was protected from anything impure touching the Ark would defile the temple God made of her. Mary vowed to remain the chaste spouse dedicating herself as the “handmaid” of the Lord in complete submission to her spouse [Luke 1:38] Not only was Mary chaste, so too was Joseph. Just as Uzzah put his hand on the Ark and died, Joseph being a just, knew to lay hands on Mary as the Ark of Covenant would mean death. We can presume therefore, that Joseph was also chaste.

The Ark was the birth place of the Jewish religion, as well as, our Catholic faith. Christ said “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He came to live, with perfection, the consummate the Old Covenant and to establish the New Covenant.


Well let’s see the similarities, after all if anyone is bringing this up there should be a valid reason.

The Original Ark of the Covenant was made of precious metals and woods. It had to be made to rigid specifications given directly to Moises by GOD.

What did it contain?

The OT tells us that 3 things were stored inside the Ark.

  1. The stones with the 10 commandments written by the hand of GOD and given to Moises.

  2. The ROD of Aaraon (Moises’s brother) the same ROD that was used by Moises when he brought the Israelites out of Egipt.

  3. A bowl that contained a portion of MANA the food that sustained the Israelites during their 40 years roaming of the desert.

So if Mary is the New Ark what are the congruent points?

First she was preserved from original sin by GOD since her conception hence she was a pure and perfect vessel to receive in her the 3 aspects of the contents of the ARK.

  1. Jesus is the manifest perfection of the 10 Commandments through HIM we can hope to become saints and obbey them all as HE did.

  2. We are told that Jesus will govern with a ROD of iron all knees will bend as no one can oppose HIM for HE is GOD.

  3. Jesus is the Bread of Life, if anyone wants to live he or she needs to eat from HIS flesh and drink HIS blood.

These are the parallels that link Mary to the Ark.

Yes, there can be no doubt when Mary is pregnant with Jesus, she is the Ark of the Covenant. However, after Jesus is born, what is the line of thought saying she is still the Ark of the Covenant? Another posted mentioned the empty Ark was venerated in the Old Testament. If so, that would mean Mary remains the Ark of the Covenant after giving birth to Jesus.

When did the Ark cease being Holy, did the cherubim fall off? How do we know that the Ark of the Testament wasn’t ‘Assumed’ into heaven, unless maybe you found it? According to John it is in heaven, see Apocalypse 11:19. Come to think of it, Sacred Tradition says Mary was ‘assumed’ into heaven. Strange how thinks work out sometimes, isn’t it?


I don’t know, that is why I am asking. TimothyH said the emptied Ark was venerated. Again, I am not doubting what he said, but I would like to see the specific scripture in the Old testament that says this.

Any vessel that was ever dedicated to the sacred use of God, in the Temple or elsewhere, was forbidden to be used for anything else, ever again.

There are no take-backs.

Fathers like St. Jerome loved to tell the story of how God arranged it so that the sacred vessels that were taken to Babylon came back. God held His hand when they were used as loot put on display for Babylon’s gods, but He brought in the Persians and Medes to conquer Babylon when they were used as perfectly ordinary dishes to serve Belshazzar. And then, He got the new Persian king to send His vessels back to Jerusalem and have His Temple rebuilt.

When the Romans took over in 70 AD, they seem to have evaded this curse somewhat by melting down the Temple vessels (after parading them through Rome) and just using the gold as money.

Thank you for the references. That re-enforces the idea that Mary continued to be the Ark of the covenant ever after Jesus was born. Again, this shouldn’t be the only reason (or even the main reason) to show Mary remained a virgin, but it certainly something that should be explained to someone who believes Mary had other children.

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