“They are to make an ark of acacia-wood three-and-three-quarters feet long, two-and-a-quarter feet wide and two-and-a-quarter feet high. You are to overlay it with pure gold — overlay it both inside and outside — and put a molding of gold around the top of it.”-Exodus 25:10-11
Okay, let’s get into the technical aspects of that most sacred object that was to become the holiest thing on the planet once created-the Ark of the Covenant.
Out of the three zones or areas of holiness that comprised the tabernacle, the ark was to be placed in the holiest spot, a room aptly titled the Holy of Holies.
Technically speaking, the ark was basically a rectangular chest with both a storage compartment and a lid.
The structure of the ark was made out of a very hard dense wood called Acacia wood or in Hebrew SHITTIM.
In terms of measurements, the ark was about 4 feet in length and its depth and width was a little over 2 feet.
I’m aware that most Bible translations will express the Tabernacle measurements in cubits.
According to the best estimates, one cubit could be anywhere from around 18 inches to a little over 21 inches.
Now inside and out, the entire Ark was to be covered with gold.
Recall that gold symbolized purity and the highest degree of holiness.
The lid to the Ark was also to be a solid slab of gold with two carved Cherubim on top.
In Hebrew, this lid is called the “KAPPORET”, which literally means the “place of atonement”.
Look at verse 22.
“There I will meet with you.
I will speak with you from above the ark-cover,
from between the two cherubim
which are on the ark for the testimony,
about all the orders I am giving you
for the people of Israel.”
We’re told that it is above the cover of the ark where the Lord will meet with Moses and give him instructions for Israel.
This is also the same place where the High Priest will stand to atone for all the sins of Israel on the Day of Atonement also known as YOM KIPPUR.
Now you’re probably more familiar with the term “Mercy Seat”.
One reason why it was called “Mercy Seat” is because when the Lord accepted the High Priest’s yearly atonement for the sins of the people, it was considered to be the ultimate act of mercy.
The Ark was literally symbolic of God’s throne.
Finally, you may be quite surprised to know that the total weight of all the gold, silver and bronze used for the Tabernacle came to about 8 tons!
Considering that they were encamped out in a barren desert, where in the world did they get this huge quantity of precious metals?
Well, remember when God commanded Israel to “strip Egypt” before they left?
At the time, the Egyptians gladly handed over their gold and silver.
They were desperate to be rid of those Hebrews and their God who had almost practically destroyed their land overnight.
Now although 8 tons of metal sounds like an audacious figure, if we were to divide that figure by the number of Israelites who left Egypt, it would come to less than 1/12th of an ounce per person.
That’s about the equivalent of one tiny earring per person.
No big deal at all, and probably some people were carrying a lot more silver and gold than the others.