Exo 25.10 gives the dimensions of the Ark. We have found out that the five hand breadth cubit was used (19.2 inches) by Moses (Kelim 17.9-10). SO, the length was 2.5 cubits (48 inches), the width was 1.5 cubits (28.8 inches) and the height was 1.5 cubits (28.8 inches). The wood of the Ark was covered with gold inside and out. It had a gold molding around it called a “zair.” Four rings were cast for it (arbah = 4).
Now, Revelation 4.1-3 says that there was a throne standing in heaven. We know the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies) in the Temple was God’s throne room. We know that what was in heaven was replicated on earth. This room had the Ark, God’s throne. So, what we are looking at with the Ark is a physical manifestation of God’s throne on earth. The number four plays a prominent role in the Temple. We have four corner buildings,we have four horns on two altars, we have four rings on the Ark and so on. Rev 4.6 says there were four living creatures (Chai’yot) around the throne. These chai’yot will equal what we see on the Ark, the four rings. These chai’yot are Keruvim (Cherubim).
These rings are called “taba’ot” and these rings look like a “washer” placed on the corners (the “feet”), two on one side and two on another. The Temple had the “sides” of the courtyards so this concept is important. This will relate to the human sides of a body. Poles (“vadai”) were made of shittim wood and covered with gold. These poles were inserted in the rings, and they remained there because of kedusha. Unnecessary handling of the Ark was forbidden. 2 Sam 6.6-7 says that Uzzah was killed because of this. 1 Kings 8.8 says that the poles were so long that the end of the poles could be seen poking the veil from the holy place. Now, the Holy of Holies was 20 cubits by 20 cubits, so the poles were from the back wall (west) of the Holy of Holies and could be seen poking the veil.
Most pictures of the Ark we have seen are inaccurate. In the Mishnah, the tractate “Yoma 5.1” says that the High Priest had to step over the poles in order to place himself in the middle before the kipporet (mercy seat). He couldn’t go around the poles because the poles touched the veil, so he had to step over them. The poles had to be low so he could put the fire pan down between the poles. S, the rings for the poles were at the bottom, and the poles were put through the rings at this low point.
Some think the rings served as “feet.” The word for circle is “gal” in Hebrew. A “wheel” is “galgal.” We have the word “Galilee” which means “circuit” and we have “Gilgal” which means to “roll away.” What we have with these rings is a “wheel (the pole is round, circular) within a wheel (the ring).” Where do we read about a wheel within a wheel? In Ezek 1.1-28 and the Ma’aseh Merkavah (Work of the Chariot). It explains the workings of the heavenly throne. We have the Holy of Holies on earth with the Ark, the place of the throne of God (Jer 17.12). So, Ezek 1 describes how the throne works.
We read in Ezek 1.4 it says there was “something like flowing metal (or “polished bronze”) in the midst of the fire” and that is the word “Chashmal” in Hebrew. It is a compound word combining “Chash” (silent, as in Ecc 3.7; Isa 62.1, 6) and “mal” (speak, the root for “malak” = messenger, angel). It is proper to be silent about its implications. It is an example of a prophetic idiom and that which is beyond the realm of comprehension. (Artscroll “Ezekiel”, p. 77). It basically means if you had a thousand words you could not describe what is being said. If you saw God and the throne, could you describe it? That is “chashmal.” No human could, and that is why we doubt every claim that says a person died and went to heaven and saw God and the throne. Not even Paul could put it into words (2 Cor 12. 1-4).
Ezekiel 1.5 then says that there were figures resembling four living creatures (“arbah chai’yot”). They were in human form, with four faces and four wings. In Isa 6.2, these creatures had six wings. They talked to God and they are humbled, so the two extra wings in Isaiah covered their face. Here, they were under the throne and they carry out God’s commands. The “face” speaks of the intellect, and the wings speak of spiritual movement to carry out his will. Their legs are straight and their feet like a calf’s hoof and gleamed like burnished brass.
Under their wings, on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings, their wings touched one another and their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight ahead. As for the faces, each had a face of a man, a face of a lion, a face of a bull and a face of an eagle. Their wings spread out above, and had two touching each other, and two covering their bodies. The Hebrew wording here is poetic and each word will have multiple meanings because they can’t be expressed in a single word. So, when it says the wings were joined together, it also says “like a sister to her sister.” So it doesn’t just mean “joined together” it means more than that. Each one went straight forward wherever the Spirit (purpose) was about to go, they would go without turning.
In the midst of the living creatures there was something like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the chai’yot. The fire was bright and lightning was flashing from the fire. The chai’yot ran to and fro like bolts of lightning. As Ezekiel looked at the chai’yot, there was one wheel on the earth beside the chai’yot. The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was like sparkling beryl and all four of them had the same form, being as if one wheel was within a wheel. These are the “wheels” of God’s chariot (throne). The “Taba’ot” (rings) with the “Vadai” (poles) through them on the Ark is basically a “wheel within a wheel.” The “wheel” is a type of angel called the “Ophan.” We have seen the Keruv (Cherub), but also we will have another type in Isa 6 called a “Seraph.” So, in other words, we have three types of angel here. We have the Ophanim (wheels), we have the Keruvim ( related to the word “karav” meaning to “draw near”), and we have the Seraphim (burning ones). The Ophanim are also called “Galgalim” in Dan 7.9.
Exo 25.13-15 says that the poles to carry the ark were made of shittim (acacia) wood and were overlaid with gold. They were put into the sides of the Ark in order to carry it. The rings will help protect the those carrying the Ark, so they wouldn’t touch it. The Ark was heavy, and these poles were over 20 cubits long, so that meant there could be a number of priests on each side. There may have been up to thirty priests carrying the Ark, so they had to walk in unison or things would get out of balance. This alludes to the fact that our walk should be in union with other believers or things will get out of balance, too. These poles would have to be strong, so there is much more to what we are reading in the Scripture in order to have it performed. The poles were to remain in the Ark and were never removed (1 Kings 8.8). When the Ark was carried it was like carrying a throne, with the long sides coming at you, like someone sitting on a throne. It was not carried with the poles along the long sides, like in movies. A king doesn’t get carried sideways on his throne. Imagine the Lord sitting on the throne, coming at you. That is how it was carried.
The two tablets of stone with the ten commandments were put inside the Ark (Exo 25.16) and the tablets were probably square shaped, one cubit square, and sat at the bottom of the Ark. There was also enough room for the fingers in order to handle them (“The Tabernacle of Israel” by James Strong, p. 90-94). We usually see the tablets of stone rounded at the top and large, but they would have never fit into the Ark. The Ark gives us an idea of their size. How did Moses carry these down from the mountain?
He has been there forty days and forty nights without food or water. He is in a supernatural state as it is, so were the people. They were provided water for millions of people a day, their clothes didn’t wear out, food was provided and they didn’t get sick. Moses was as strong at 120 as he was at 80, but his 80 is not our 80. He was not weak in any way, so the fact that he could carry these tablets of stone is not surprising. He was in a supernatural environment.
In Part 47 we will pick up in Exo 25.17 with the “Kapporet” or mercy seat.