Hebrews 9:4

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having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein [was] a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron`s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; (ASV)


Hebrews 9:4 says that the Ark of the Covenant contained an urn of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. The Old Testament, however, is quite explicit that the Ark contained only the tablets (1 Kings 8:9). Aaron's staff and the urn of manna were both placed in front of the Ark and/or the tablets (see Numbers 17:10 and Exodus 16:34, respectively).

Hebrews 9:4 is mistaken about the contents of the Ark of the Covenant.


Edit this section if you doubt error.


Edit this section to note miscellaneous facts.

1 Kings 8:9

"There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when Jehovah made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. (ASV)"

Attempted Defense:

What was inside the Ark of the Covenant?

This article is from Apologist JP Holding who's credibility has been impeached many times. Therefore, he can not be cited as an authority here at ErrancyWiki. As an Apologist though he is useful in surveying possible defensive evidence. As is typical, he has no coherent argument here, only pieces of possible evidence to try and defend.

In order to present an argument here (Pro or Con section) the post must meet at least one of 3 minimum standards:

1) Supported by the Text
2) Simple
3) Logical

Otherwise the information goes to the Neutral or Talk sections or nowhere. Let's look at Holding's claims:

"Some have noted that nothing in Exodus states that the rod or manna were put in the Ark. This is true; that they were there was an extrapolation of the rabbis and other Jewish writers based on Ex. 25:16, "And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee." The gold jar tradition is testified to by Philo"

Note that the context of the claimed error is Contradiction and not History. The Christian Bible quote above is contradicted by The Jewish Bible quote above. Holding confesses to us that there is nothing explicit in The Jewish Bible to support The Christian Bible here. Holding claims there were Jewish writers who support The Christian Bible here but does not provide any quotes. Again, the context is contradiction and not history. The key question is does The Jewish Bible indicate the manna and rod were in the Ark and not, historically, were the manna and rod in the ark. Does Holding's claim here meet any of our standards?:

1) Not supported by the Text (The Jewish Bible)
2) Not simple (missing the quotes of the Jewish writers)
3) Not logical. What Holding fails to identify (because it is evidence against him) is that The Jewish Bible gives the reason why the manna and rod were instructed to be placed before the Ark. So that they would be visual evidence. Not very good visual evidence if placed inside the Ark.

Next Holding claim:

"July 2012: A reader has pointed out that Exodus 16:31-35 also implicitly indicates that the ark contained both the rod and the manna, particularly v. 34: "As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved." While this is not explicit, it does fit a natural assumption that they went together in the ark"

Exodus 16

"31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers [made] with honey. 32 And Moses said, This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omerful of manna therein, and lay it up before Jehovah, to be kept throughout your generations. 34 As Jehovah commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan."

This just confirms Pro's claim of error. The manna is supposed to be seen so it would not be inside the Ark and is explicitly instructed to be placed before the tablets.

Not that it's needed here but you have other evidence from The Jewish Bible that only the tablets were in the Ark:

Exodus 31:18

"And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."

Here the "testimony" is explicitly the tablets.

Exodus 40:20

"And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy-seat above upon the ark:"

--JoeWallack (talk) 08:24, 15 August 2014 (PDT)

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