The Ark of the Covenant


We are Reading Exodus in religon class and I’m too scared to ask my religon teacher this…:shrug:

Why did the temple/arc have to be so large and gold plated and generally grand?it just makes me a little confused because we are always told of the humility of Jesus, ‘born in a stable’.

I am not disputing anything, least of all Jesus’ humility. I’m just a bit curious. Thank you.


Why did the Temple have to be so glorious-like? Because God is Glorious.
Yes Jesus is humble, but the humbling took place between 6BCE-6CE.
This is after Solomon’s Temple (I don’t know if God
had much appreciation for Herod’s reconstruction).
That’s about as much as I can muster here. :slight_smile:


Keep in mind that originally the Ark was housed in a tent. Of course, even this was made from the finest materials, and had gold and silver overlaid on boards and such. The Temple was a place of worship to God, and was intended to show the glory, power and majesty of the Creator of all things (as was the original tent of meeting). As a place of worship, it was appropriate for it to be built on a grand scale. This does not, in any way, take away from the humility of Jesus when He first walked the Earth.

Not sure if this answered your question, but hope it helped!


I think the Ark, which was made of wood, was covered with gold, because to the Hebrews, as to all early peoples, gold was meant for only Kings or gods, except in small jewelry by wealthy people. To honor God, they gave the best they knew how to give --gold. Also, perhaps the gold helped to protect and preserve the wood of the Ark.


My thoughts are that throughout the Book of Exodus, God was continually having the Israelite people turn away from false gods and worship Him alone. His constant reminder of “I am God” was a constant mantra through the plagues in Egypt (each being a god Egyptians worshiped) and during His constant appeal that they rely on Him alone for their peace. Since He owns all of creation (beasts of the field and even the gold), this grandeur was to be offered back to Him in sacrifice (first-fruit as in finest). Not only would it reserve the finest of God’s creation to His worship but aid in detachment from the “grandeur” of the world.


I think that answer is better than mine! Thank you! Offering what is your “finest” to God didn’t stop with the Israelites, I think we still need to offer the “finest” of our lives and hearts to God…:slight_smile:


This isn’t a perfect reply by any means, but it may help to think about this.

Consider that you invite me to your home for dinner. I, being humble, say that of course you needn’t prepare anything fancy for me. But will you, anyways, give me pig slop to eat? “But you said you were humble, thus eat the slop!”

You know though, that you wouldn’t (I hope)! You would want to prepare something nice for me, even though I said I didn’t need it.

That’s not exactly the way it works here (on the one hand, God did say to make those things nice. On the other hand, God also said that they couldn’t possibly please him with fine things because he was the one who furnished them [if memory serves]).

But it might help to understand why we do these things for God.


The ark was covered with gold because God commanded it to be so.

***There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. *(Exodus 25:22)

He wanted it covered with gold because it was where he would manifest himself, appearing between the cherubim, above the mercy seat, to speak with Moses.

The ark foreshadows Mary, the Queen, from whom God in the person of Jesus Christ appeared. God wanted the ark covered in gold to signify whom the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven and Earth would be.



Gold is a sign of purity in Scripture. This is why there is often the idea of precious metals and refining them in fire because these metals signify purity. Any time in Scripture you see a “dwelling place” of God, it bears some sign of purity, of spotlessness. This is exemplified in the figure of gold in the Ark which was the dwelling place of God. In Genesis, the garden of Eden was the “dwelling place” of God –– and as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they were cast out, for the dwelling place is pure. So too, is Mary Immaculate, for she is a dwelling place of God, the holy garden, the Ark of the new covenant. Etc…


And also gold is incorruptible as a metal, so it does not rust, fade, or change over time.

Also, think about beautiful churches that you have been to. Their sheer beauty helps to lift your mind to God. They lift us out of our normal routine and re-focus us on God.


If you were to calculate the cost of the tent of meeting, in today’s money, you would see that it would be worth millions of dollars. The specifications of the tent of meeting and the arc of the covenant were given by god. He had chosen his people and some of what he did, even in this was to teach them. They were wandering the desert and he was instructing them to sacrifice food and instructed them to convert some of their most valuable sources of trade, gold and silver, into instruments that glorified him. I’m fairly certain that one of the things he was teaching here was trust. For them to give up these things for God and trust him to provide otherwise was a strong faith building tool.

Reading those passages in Exodus helped me a lot as I used to be confused as to how and why churches, either Catholic or any other denomination, could be so grand. It seemed to me that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Those passages made me see that it is not only appropriate to glorify god that was but is probably preferred. God deserves our best and there is no sin in giving it. If God desires that money get raised for other things, he is God, he can make it happen.


Seems you have 2 issues here: 1) “Why?” about the gold, and 2) Fear in asking your teacher

  1. God commanded the Ark of the Covenant to be created by man with acacia wood and gold - right there, that’s “why”. It also is seen to foreshadow Christ, the Man/God who was the only person who could fulfill the law’s demands, because it is earthy wood and refined pure gold.

2)I understand the apprehension in asking a question. You don’t understand and think there will be some negative repercussion from merely asking. Thank you for your honesty. I’d encourage you to ask your parents about how you should approach your teacher, since they also should know these kind of answers. And then ask your teacher with all humility and honesty about being confused on the point(s) in question. Likely you will be surprised that your teacher’s reaction will be different, and hopefully kinder, than the fearful response you’ve built up in your thoughts.


As I understand it, the Ark was actually a large battery. Warriors would get “shocks” from God by touching it before a key battle.

One group in Texas attempted to recreate it using real gold, and they had to stop because of the danger. I might be wrong on this- it was a few years ago.

Battery technology was known to the ancient Egyptians, and Moses was from the ruling class. So there you go.


Good to know. I guess next time your car won’t start, just get a gold plated wood box with a staff, stone tablets and some bread and off you go!


The above about batteries is incorrect on a theological level, and I tend to assume incorrect on a practical level as well.

The reason why it is incorrect on a theological level is because no one touches the Ark. Uzzah touched it to steady it and was struck dead instantly. There is no passage in the Bible referencing soldiers touching it, and the Bible makes it abundantly clear that to touch it is to die.

On the practical reasons, well, let’s not bother discussing it here as it is not pertinent to discussion.


I don’t know, Steve. Sure, the battery theory is shown to work, if we believe TV documentaries and claims from people who have purportedly performed experiments - but AFAIK only if you built the Ark looking like how the 19th century Bibles and Indiana Jones showed it. I don’t know if it’d work if the Ark actually looked like this or this or even this. The point? We don’t know what the Ark exactly looked like, so any purported theories which are highly dependent on the box being in a particular shape or form is to me questionable.

Besides, if we go by the Old Testament, no one is supposed to touch the Ark except the priests, and even then, only at the poles (absolutely no one can touch the box itself). Obviously the priests did not draw any weapons: they were present during battles, yes, but all the priests do is stand there and carry the Ark when the soldiers fought, with the Ark acting as a sort of palladium (not the metal - this sort of sacred image or item believed to be the representation or the physical manifestation of a deity upon which the safety of a city or nation is said to depend). In fact, no one is supposed to even see it: when the Ark is brought out into public view, it is always veiled. So if anybody’s getting a ‘shock’ (if there really was electricity in it), it’s the priests. But it ain’t really gonna do much.

Anyways, this theory to me smells like the attempt to ‘rationalize’ anything in the Bible that smacks of the supernatural. It’s the same idea behind those explanations like oh, Jesus never really multiplied the loaves or fishes but just somehow convinced everyone present to share their hoarded stashes of food or Jesus never really died on the cross but just fell into a swoon. I’ll be honest; I have more respect for people who simply dismiss these details as legends or exaggerations wholesale - at least I think they’re being consistent. Whereas the idea behind these rationalizations is something like: yeah, we believe Scripture is accurate (in the hyper-literal sense), but we don’t like all those supernatural stuff. It’s really a case of having the cake and then eating it.

Incidentally, there’s the idea that the golden Ark with the cherubs was just really a conflation of the gigantic golden cherubim and the more simple wooden chest within the sanctuary of Solomon’s temple; in fact, the Tabernacle itself is claimed to be simply a fusion of the tent sanctuaries of the ancient Israelites and certain elements of the temple of Solomon by postexilic writers (cf. the documentary hypothesis - specifically the Priestly source). In other words, they’re all imaginary. I don’t endorse this idea, mind, but I’ll admit that I think that adherents of this idea are more consistent in their thinking by simply dismissing it wholesale than doing a lot of gymnastics to present Scripture as still ‘accurate’ while at the same time, outright certain aspects of it.


Don’t you just hate it when you leave out words? “while at the same time, dismissing outright certain aspects of it, picking and choosing what to believe in while throwing anything that smacks of the supernatural away just because it’s supernatural and thus, ‘irrational’.”

Personally I think that if the text says it’s supernatural, then take it as it is: depending if you believe on the supernatural or not, you can either take it or leave it. But to go to such lengths to try to come up with a ‘rational’ explanation for it doesn’t really go anywhere.

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