Exodus 16:33-34 (KJV)

33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

Here Moses instructs Aaron to store the manna in a golden jar & put it before the Testimony (Ark of the covenant). It seems this instruction was given in the wilderness of sin between Elim & Sinai in the second month after they left Egypt. The Ark of the covenant was erected well after the third month, but it seems the Ark of the covenant had not yet been erected when this instruction was given.

So how could then Aaron have stored it in the Ark of the covenant if was not yet erected?

1 Answer 1


Many translations/commentaries assume that this only took place at the time that the Ark was erected, and that is when this verse was written/added (in fact, the next verse is, according to many, a much later addition). See, for example, Poole:

Quest. How could this be laid up before the ark, when the ark was not yet built?

Answ. This text only tells us that Aaron did lay it up, but it doth not determine the time, nor affirm that it was done at this instant, but rather intimates the contrary, and that it was done afterwards when the testimony, i.e. the ark, was built. As the next verse also speaks of what was done in the following forty years.

Rabbi Joseph Bechor Shor explains that when the Ark was erected, it was placed at the ark, but until then, it had been place in front of whatever altar the nation had been using to sacrifice animals on. He shows this from Exodus 18:12, where Aaron and the Elders sat to eat bread with Jethro "in front of God", and the tabernacle was not yet built:

לפני העדות למשמרת – משנבנה המשכן. ועד שלא נבנה המשכן, היה לפני הבמה שמקריבין שם הקרבנות, כמו ויבא אהרון וכל זקני ישראל לאכול לחם {עם חתן משה} לפני האלהים

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