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The placement of the Ark in the Most Holy Place of Solomon's Temple is described in 1 Kings 8 (also 2 Chronicles 5) and makes reference to the poles which had been used to carry it:

For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. (1 Kings 8:7-8 KJV)

This seems to say the poles were removed and stored in such a way the ends could be seen from the Holy Place. Presumably, "before the oracle" means one pole was placed on on the floor on either side of the Ark and the end of each pole could be seen from the Holy Place. However, the poles were not to be removed:

And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. (Exodus 25:14-15 ESV)

The NET translation understands the poles were not removed but were so long1 the ends protruded into the Holy Place:

The cherubs’ wings extended over the place where the ark sat; the cherubs overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles were so long their ends were visible from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from beyond that point. They have remained there to this very day. (1 Kings 8:7-8 NET)

The Tanakh translation seems to agree with the NET without stating why:

for the cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the Ark, so that the cherubim shielded the Ark and it poles from above. The poles projected so that the ends of the poles were visible in the sanctuary in front of the Shrine, but they could not be seen outside, and there they remain to this day. (1 Kings 8:7-8 JPS 2004)

1 Kings 8:7 כִּי הַכְּרוּבִים פֹּרְשִׂים כְּנָפַיִם אֶל־מְקֹום הָֽאָרֹון וַיָּסֹכּוּ הַכְּרֻבִים עַל־הָאָרֹון וְעַל־בַּדָּיו מִלְמָֽעְלָה׃
1 Kings 8:8 וַֽיַּאֲרִכוּ הַבַּדִּים וַיֵּרָאוּ רָאשֵׁי הַבַּדִּים מִן־הַקֹּדֶשׁ עַל־פְּנֵי הַדְּבִיר וְלֹא יֵרָאוּ הַחוּצָה וַיִּהְיוּ שָׁם עַד הַיֹּום הַזֶּֽה׃

All agree the poles could be seen from the Holy Place; yet there is disagreement as to why. Which is the better understanding of what is written? If it follows the King James, does "drew out" mean removed or drawn out just enough so the ends were visible from the Holy Place?

1. This could also result if the Ark was positioned so close to the curtain the ends protruded.

  • You didn't include references from the old testament which state that the poles are never to be removed! I give you an upvote because this is a question that I've had for about 1 year. – user20490 Nov 22 '17 at 23:54
  • @user20490 Thanks. I amended to include your comment. – Revelation Lad Nov 23 '17 at 5:12
  • What happened to the poles when not in use? Either this or this – James Shewey Nov 23 '17 at 5:35
  • The word is בד also meaning 'linen'. The ark is a symbol of the body of Christ containing the Word of God. The Holy of Holies represents the tomb, since the veil was torn at his death. The poles/linen 'wrapped' the ark, held in place by the signet rings טבעת signifying he was the Son. They poked out, because even though you could not see the body of Christ in resurrection, his linen remained. – Bob Jones Nov 25 '17 at 18:50
  • Oh also, they could lift the ark without entering the Holy of Holies. – Bob Jones Nov 27 '17 at 0:21
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I think you are mistaken here.

The literal translation of ויאריכו is "and they lengthened". The root of this word is ארך which in Hebrew means "long", thus ויאריכו is to be rendered lengthened. Since it is obvious that they didn't literally lengthen the staves the commentaries explain that they drew them out towards the curtains in a way that they were able to be seen from the outside, in this way the staves protruded outside the Devir and sat firmly in their designated rings at the same time. This is most probably what the KJV means when it says "drew out"; they didn't remove them completely but drew them out a bit towards the curtains. See also Yoma 54a for more on this. I do not see any contradiction between the NET and the KJV, they both explain what was done with the Ark in their own unique way.

It is highly unlikely that according to the KJV they were completely removed, since as you point out the Israelites were specifically commanded not to do so. Furthermore, the the appropriate Hebrew word for "remove" is ויסרו not ויאריכו. In fact this is the term used in Exodus 25:14-15 to proscribe the removal of the staves: לא יסרו ממנו. So it would be wrong to translate this term as such. But "drew out" "project", and "lengthen" are all appropriate translations for ויאריכו in this specific context.

Hope this clears up the confusion.

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The correct understanding is that, a) the poles were never removed in accordance with God's command, and, b) the poles were too long to fit within the Holy of Holies where only the ark was housed. Normally hidden by a curtain, the heads of the poles could be seen only as bump-outs protruding from the curtain. This was deliberate so that the poles would extend outside of the Holy of Holies, where it was forbidden even for the high priest to enter, except for once a year, on Yom Kippur. The purpose was so that the poles could be grasped and the Ark removed for transport by standing in the "mere" Holy zone, without anyone having to enter the Holy of Holies.

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  • Welcome to BH. Please see the Tour and Help (below). I disagree with you (but I am not down-voting your answer). Where, on this earth, would the Ark ever (again) be transported ? ? ? It is come to 'rest' - as it were, in figure, eternally. The spiritual counterpart is the world to come, the eternal glory. No, the poles were well and truly 'out'. The Ark had come to its resting place and would no more be moved. Nor was the Ark ever again mentioned as the prophet says. It shall no more be mentioned - it is settled and will never be referred to again. – Nigel J Jun 17 at 22:30
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    In an ideal world, you would have been correct. The poles should never have had to be taken out. – Ronald Henig Jun 19 at 3:45
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It's true that poles could be seen only when we enter the holy place and to enter holy place only priest can aloud but the situation changed after the death and resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ is now in heaven for us we can see him no more vail we call him and he answered us he is our friend

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