Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!
Need an article for your Trestleboard/Newsletter see our Use Policy

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

The Ark of the Covenant

Today in Masonic History we present The Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant was housed in the Temple of Solomon.

The Ark of the Covenant is a common theme in Freemasonry. It appears as a symbol in a variety of masonic art work. The Ark itself is never mentioned in Blue Lodge ritual.

In the Bible it states, after Solomon's Temple was completed, as part of the dedication ceremony the Ark was seated within the Kodesh Hakodashim or Holy of Holies. Within the Holy of Holies two massive cherubims, beings who attend to God in the Abrahamic tradition, stood overlooking the Ark.

In the Bible a detailed description is given about what the Ark looked like. Most notably to Freemasons, the Ark in several descriptions is made with acacia wood. The wood was covered with gold and a lid was fashioned with Cherubims on the lid. Despite the detailed descriptions in the Bible, the Ark is often drawn in a variety of ways and shapes. There are at least some who disagree with the idea the Ark was a box or chest, instead saying it was more of a bowl shape, which fit in more commonly with other similar objects of the period.

Some theologians believe within the Bible there are multiple arks spoken of, including the one in the story of Exodus. When Moses smashed the Ten Commandments he placed the broken pieces in the Ark of the Covenant. Also placed in the ark was Aaron's rod and a pot of manna.

Aaron, the brother of Moses, was a slave like Moses in Egypt. God proclaimed Moses was like a God unto the Egyptians and Aaron his prophet. Just as Moses had a rod displaying mystical powers, so too did Aaron. Prior to the Exodus, Moses and Aaron went before the Pharaoh to give him one last change to release the Israelites. To prove God's power, God told Aaron to throw his rod on the ground, where it became a snake. The Pharaohs magicians dropped their rods as well and those turned into snakes as well. Aaron's rod devoured the other snakes.

After the Exodus it was commanded by God each of the twelve tribes put forth a rod to determine which tribe were the priests of the Ark. The tribe connected to the rod which bloomed over night became the priests. Aaron put forth his rod for the Levities. Over the night his rod began to bloom and almonds came from it. Initially the almonds were sweet. Whenever the Israelites turned away from God the almonds became bitter.

The third item in the Ark, the pot of manna was the food source the Israelites had while wondering the desert. Manna is described in a variety of ways depending on what text you are reading.

In later traditions it is said the Ark was carried before the armies of the Israelites making them invincible.

In modern times, the story of the Ark of the Covenant has been viewed through a more modern and even mystical lens. Everything from Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant which had the Ark being unearthed in Egypt and when the Ark was opened the power of God came forth and devoured those who looked upon it. In fact in the Biblical tradition the Ark was hidden from view, even from the people who were carrying it. In other modern twists it has been stated Moses actually brought down radioactive material from Mount Sinai, and it was why his hair turned white. It is also claimed by the same group of people the priestly breastplate, or high priest breastplate, was meant as some sort of "shielding:" from the Ark.

The final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant is unknown. The strongest theory has it in Ethiopia where it is guarded by priests. No one is allowed in to see so it is impossible to confirm it is the Ark of the Covenant.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.