The NT author of Hebrews 9:4 recounts items in the Ark of the Covenant, while at the desert tabernacle.

[Hebrews 9:4] "Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant" (9:4  χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης περικεκαλυμμένην πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ ἐν ᾗ στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος Ἀαρὼν ἡ βλαστήσασα καὶ αἱ πλάκες τῆς διαθήκης)

However - The Tanakh reveals in 1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10 that items were removed from the Ark prior to entering the 1st Temple :

[1 Kings 8:9 | 2 Chronicles 5:10] "There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets of stone which Moshe put there at Horev, when YHVH made [a covenant] with the children of Yisrael, when they came out of the land of Mitsrayim." ( אֵין בָּֽאָר֔וֹן רַ֗ק שְׁנֵי֙ לֻח֣וֹת הָאֲבָנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִנִּ֥חַ שָׁ֛ם משֶׁ֖ה בְּחֹרֵ֑ב אֲשֶׁ֨ר כָּרַ֚ת יְהֹוָה֙ עִם־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּצֵאתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם )

Why would 1st Temple Kohanim discard the Pot of Manna & Rod of Aharon from the Ark - leaving only the Tablets?

  • Were these additional items listed in Hebrews 9:4 ever in the Ark?
  • Good question, but we are not told.
    – Dottard
    Aug 10 at 23:32

As you point out, Hebrews 9.4 is describing the priestly service in the tabernacle that was shown to Moses, in which these items were present. This is because the text is focusing on the the pattern that was revealed on the mountain, of which the earthly tabernacle was a type. It then discusses how these are representations of Christ's ministry. Thus the earthly items discussed are the ones in the book of Exodus, not in Samuel or 1 Kings.

In terms of the actual distribution of these items, how they were lost, so that by the time of Herod's Temple, the Holy of Holies was empty and only replicas of the sacred items in the Holy Place were made, all we know is that Israel's apostasy caused these items to be lost.

For example, the apostasy of Eli's family led to the Philistines capturing the ark (1 Sam 4), and then the apostasy of Judah led to Babylon destroying the temple, and in each case some items were permanently lost, although the text does not say what happened to the items.


The words "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb" do not limit all that Moses put in the ark at Horeb, but rather to limit all that there was in the ark at the time being described. That is, there is a difference between saying 'Moses put the tables of the Law in the ark,' and 'Moses put ONLY the tables of the Law in the ark.'

In fact, one could argue that the very existence of this verse, which begins with the words "there was nothing in the ark except," implies that it is noteworthy that nothing else was in there, either added (or having been removed).

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