The Poles of the Ark and the Philistines

1 Samuel 4 through 6 tells the story of the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant. For them to even put it on a cart they had to use the poles that were part of the Ark. In my other post, I explain why I think those poles represent the Holy Spirit. God allowing His Ark to be captured has always puzzled me and my study of the Poles really stirred a lot of questions. (Please read 1 Samuel 4-6 as I am not trying to tell the whole story.)

The first time the Ark was moved in this story. The army of Israel had been beaten by the Philistines. The elders decided to bring the Ark into the battle. Yes, Joshua marched it around Jericho, but God had told him to do it. I am not sure God liked being used as a good luck charm; it is bad luck to be superstitious. The idea may sound like a good one, but God had not told them to take His Ark into battle. Since Eli had sent Hophni and Phinehas with the Ark let us assume that Levities of the Kohath clan moved it on their shoulders and that the cover was over it.

Points to think about.

  1. This seems to be God’s plan to rid Israel of Eli and his sons.
  2. The High Priesthood changed hands that day because Eli’s grandsons were too young for service.
  3. Samuel was a prophet not a priest, he was not a son of Aaron. I have never found an adoption cause for being a Levitical priest.
  4. There were other Sons of Aaron who served. We see both families during David’s reign. As the number of men grew certain tasks were chosen by lot. Remember Zechariah, John’s father.
  5. Shiloh was still important, but the Ark did not return there.

The Ark was moved by the Philistines. Israel lost; the battle, two corrupt priests, and God. The Philistines had God and they were not going to give Him back; it took seven months and a lot of misery for them to change their minds. Two cities were hit hard by a plague and the third city did not want the Ark. See my post on rats for a possible tumor that may have cause agony.

From the battle field to Dagon’s temple and to other cities the Philistines probably used a cart, any cart. But someone still had to pick it up and take it off that cart. They had to use the Poles, that was the only part of the Ark that non-priest could touch and they were not Kohaths. (Hold this thought.)

What happened to the three layers of covers for the Ark when it was being moved? The covers are never mentioned. You would think that they were over it in Israel. Had some of the rules gone by the wayside? (It seems that Samuel slept close to the Ark. That should not have been allowed. David and his team did not know how to move it.) I cannot imagine the Philistines not wanting to take a look at the God they had captured. So, between no cover and touching the Poles, no wonder the Philistines started dying. If Israel had disrespected the Ark by not having it covered that may be another reason they lost the battle.

Numbers 4 tells of God’s concern for the Kohaths and what Aaron and sons had to do to protect them. We know that Uzzah disrespected the Ark by touching it when the ox stumbled-2 Samuel 6:6 and 1 Chronicles 13:9. So, why did God not “break out” against every Philistine that touched the Ark? How about one big teachable moment for two nations. I think this psalm says it well – Psalm 74:22 Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. (KJV) Plead could be replaced with defend, and reproacheth could be talks about. The Philistines still attacked Israel, but I am sure they wanted nothing to do with God or the Ark. Israel had to learn to take the promises of God with them into battle and not a good luck charm. Jesus, Peter, and Paul experienced God rising against those who disrespected God’s cause-the soldiers fell down, Ananias and Sapphira died, and Elymas was blinded for a time.

From the Philistines to Jerusalem – Chapter 5 was a bad time for the Philistines, by #6 they were thinking that the God of Israel was very powerful. Not wanting to accept that they constructed a test and a peace offering. I knew the “new cart” was a sign of respect, but it makes more sense if they had been moving it on any cart they had or carrying it by the Poles. The cows added a level beyond their natural world, those cows would not have been contented walking away from the calves. The leaders were happy and they could get back to making the Israelites miserable as long as they left their God out of it.

The sad story is that the Levities had to learn a hard lesson about respecting their God and the rules that applied to them and their life. Beth Shemesh was a Levite town, they should have known better than to look in the Ark of God. Why did they do it? Maybe they thought that the Philistines had gotten away with peeking, or Shiloh had farther-reaching fingers than we thought, (Eli had not taken care of business and things happened.) or they just had to check that nothing was taken. Seventy men died, that may have been the majority of men in that town.    

Kiriath Jearim was called, they were a town of priests. Even though priests are from the clan of Kohath, I am not sure they should carry the Ark. But if it was covered and the Poles were on their shoulders it had to be better than a cart.    

Towns with all Levities and all priest was part of the agreement with God for being chosen to serve the Tabernacle and the Ark. So, to extend that idea Eleazar was a priest and he now had Eli’s job. (Eleazar was a “priestly” name.) It seems the Ark stayed there a long time-twenty-plus years before Saul became king, all of Saul’s reign, and however long David let it stay in Kiriath Jearim/Baalah of Judah. (Just because-No, I do not think the Ark sat outside on a hill.)

Just because their story is not told, where did the Table and the Lampstand go? Were they left in Shiloh or moved away? David got bread from the Table at Nob, but there was no mention of the Ark in that story. You hope the articles of the Tent were united in Solomon’s Temple.

In 2 Samuel 6 David is on a mission to bring the Presence of God to him in Jerusalem. It seems that the knowledge of the proper way of moving the Ark was lost or ignored. Instead of using the Poles and having Levities carry the Ark, David copies the Philistines and puts them on a cart. Someone died. You have to know there were committee meetings and scroll searches but David finally got it right and he moved the Ark to Jerusalem. Again, there is no mention of the rest of the Tabernacle. It seems that David moved the sacrifices away from the Ark. (So many questions and few answers, sorry.)

My purpose was to explore why the Philistines could move the Ark. Another question soon appeared. What happened to Israel and the Ark?

Israel – These are just some musings.

  • Your thoughts and plans may not be God’s plans and desires. The elders had a “thought’ but they did not ask God or the High Priest.
  • The Book of Judges ended with a dark tale of doing what you think is right. This is an extension of that.
  • The Father holds His children to a higher standard than the Philistines. We should not act like them.
  • You can follow rules and not have your heart right with God. The Levities had forgotten the rules.
  • I believe there was a remnant, a “seven thousand” who still wanted God.


  • God will use whom he needs to for His plan to work. Their “victory” did not mean they were right.
  • Their pride brought their downfall. Would you have given back the Ark after the second time Dagon fell?
  • They treated Jehovah as they did their idols. God did not strike them dead immediately, like Uzzah, but rats, plague, and panic came and did their jobs.
  • The Philistines touched the Poles (the Holy Spirit) and disrespected the Ark of the Covenant of God. He took His vengeance.

Wow. My study spread out into areas I did not expect. Israel proved herself from the beginning to the end of this tale. Then it took twenty years for Samuel to spark a renewal. The Philistines were being Philistines, they hated God’s children before, during, and after touching the Poles of the Ark, the Father gave them a chance and they did not take it.

The Ark – Mercy Seat

The Ark of the Covenant, which represents God, was made of three parts: the Mercy Seat, the Ark or Box, and the Poles. I have seen the Mercy Seat is a type of the Father, the Ark or Box being Jesus, and the Poles representing the Holy Spirit. These echo 2 Corinthians 13:14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (KJV)

Christians, our triune God is still a mystery. Yes, He has given us His Spirit and His Word but there are still things about Him we do not know. Isaiah 45:15 says that He is a God who hides Himself. Jesus gave us hope of knowing Him when He said, “if you have seen Me you have seen the Father”. I do wish that the writer of Hebrews 9:5 would have taken the time to explain the Mercy Seat. With all of that said I will share some things that are plain to see and some that we do not know about the Mercy Seat that I think represents the Father.

Moses got to see the real Ark and Tabernacle while he was in Heaven. The instructions he wrote for the Ark’s construction and purpose are in Exodus 25:10-23. The iconic Mercy Seat or Atonement Cover starts with verse 17. The sixth side of the Ark of the Testimony or Mercy Seat was two and a half cubits long by a cubit and a half wide. It sat within the crown that was made around the Box or Ark, which would have kept it from sliding off. It had two Cherubim as part of the top whose wings spread out over the Cover and those wings touched. God promised Moses that He would meet with him there. Not much or just enough information? The artwork through the ages has kept the basics but added embellishments to suit the artist and the times. As I said a mystery.

My Questions

  • How much gold was used for the base and the angels?
  • How thick was the base?
  • How tall and wide were the angels?
  • Were the wings horizontal or vertical to the base? (More on that idea later.)
  • How high were the wings off of the base?
  • How wide were the wings and how much did they touch?

This is where God would meet with Moses. What if, one set of wings were vertical and the other set were horizontal, they would form a seat or chair. Given the size of the lid and guessing with the angels, it would be a good size seating area with a low back.


It is easy to get lost on what we don’t know, but the purpose of the Mercy Seat is a major topic.

1. Between the Cherubim and above the rest of the Ark is where God wanted to meet with Moses, His man of the hour.

2. Leviticus 16:2 shows another ceremony, that speaks about what did Jesus after His ascension into Heaven. This is where the Priest would sprinkle the blood on the Day of Atonement.

3. As the Cover for the Ark, it covered or hid the Tablets of the Law. They were the first things put inside the Ark and they were the only things that remained at the last mention of any contents. A pot of manna and Aaron’s rod were also put in there, but they seem to have disappeared. That is a mystery.

The Father “covered” these three items as they were “held” by Jesus. My original question of this study was-did they represent reminders of rebellion or did God show Himself as a giver of good things in the middle of our problems. Personally, I have not decided on that problem as I can see both in our great God.   

No, I have not covered all of the types and shadows of the Ark. I thought the Mercy Seat of the Ark would be the last post in this series, but I was given several other ideas.

The Cross

This study about the Cross started simply enough, I mean it is a central object in my faith, so of course I knew all about it. Types and shadows and many illustrations from sermons should qualify me as knowledgeable. Well, I was not as good as I thought. I will focus on the wooden implement and not the religious and doctrinal aspects of the cross.

This needs to be said. Jesus was betrayed and condemned by the religious leaders of His day (the Sanhedrin). The political rulers punished Jesus with a beating and allowed Him to be mocked. He was then sentenced to death by hanging on the cross (Rome did this to non-Romains). He had to carry His cross out of the city and be nailed to it and hung on it. He did this for me.

Old Testament Examples

  • Genesis 40:19 – Pharoah was going to kill his servant and hang him on a pole.
  • Joshua 8:29 – The king of Ai was put on a tree and left until the end of the day. He was removed because of Deuteronomy 21:23. A person hung on a tree was under a curse and had to be buried so as not to defile the land.
  • Ezra 6:11 – This is King Darius agreeing with King Cyrus about pulling a beam from the house of anyone that changes the decree to build the Temple of God and have them impaled on it.
  • Esther 5:14 – A hanging tree is a good rendering of gallows. I believe the seventy-five-foot height was more about making a statement than torturing or killing the man.

I have read that these hangings and impaling were for public display of the body after they had been killed and not for the actual killing as the Romains did to Jesus.

A Lot of Words

Atzei, etz, nace, bad, xylon, and stauros are Hebrew and Greek words that deal with wooden things in the Bible.

Genesis 22:6 is the wood (atzei) for the sacrifice being carried by Isaac to Mount Moriah. This word is related to etz, #H6086 in the Strong’s. Etz is a tree or wood and is first used for the trees in the Garden and is the main word for a tree or wood in the Scriptures. The picture of Isaac is a type of Jesus carrying the Cross to the place of sacrifice.

Exodus 15:25 is Hashem showing Moses a “piece of etz” to throw into a pool to make it drinkable. Yes, there are many legends about that etz, none of which can be confirmed in Scripture. I will agree it is a picture of Jesus. I have heard good sermons describing it as a type of the Cross, so I will leave this one up to you. Be a Berean and study this one out.

Exodus 25:14 is part of the instructions for building the Ark and the Tabernacle. The two poles that were part of the Ark and used to carry it are called staves (KJV) or poles. The word here is bad #H905 and it refers to a “branch of a tree”. Since they are part of the Ark, I do not think they represent the Cross, but the Holy Spirit.   

Numbers 21:9 definitely is a picture of Jesus on the Cross. This is the story of the brass serpent on a pole. The word nace #H5251 is frequently used for a military standard or banner, or a flag or sail. The idea of a standard really would be a picture of a crosspiece on the Cross.

In the New Testament, the word for cross is stauros. (Please see the websites listed below.) From historical sources, it is described as a pole with no crosspiece of any kind. Wow, that would mess up a lot of great sermons.

Yes, I started looking for early Christian art that depicted the Passion. There really is not that much early art that shows a cross (1st to 3rd century). The Restless Pilgrim post is graffiti that is mocking someone that worshipped Jesus, but it does show a human figure on a cross with a crosspiece and a footrest. The other picture was a royal seal of Emperor Constantine. He had a traditional Christian cross on it (It was in a movie about Rome) and it was made in the late 300’s before his death. I have also heard that when the early Christians “lifted holy hands” they were making themselves into the shape of the Cross.

Paul in Galatians

Galatians 3:13 restates Deuteronomy 21:23 which says if you are hung on a tree/pole (xylon) you are cursed. But in 6:14 he will only boast in the cross (stauros) of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like the Tree in the Garden, it carried a good and a bad message.

My thoughts-I believe the Romains took torture to a whole new level with their use of the cross. So, it does not really matter if Jesus’ hands were straight up or splayed out on a crosspiece, they made sure it was horrible. (I do think there was a crosspiece.)

Could a Greek word (stauros) have been “recycled” for a Romain device? Americans do it all the time. That would have allowed for the upright to stay in the ground and the condemned just to carry the crosspiece.

That Romain cross, like a tree, was planted in the ground and held Jesus between Heaven and Earth. He was nailed to that wood, and it became my Tree of Life. The Cross held the most important piece of fruit to ever hang from a tree; make sure you are found in Him.

What’s the earliest depiction of the crucifixion? – Restless Pilgrim

Stauros – Wikipedia

σταυρός |

Mark 911

Mark 9:11 (KJV) And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?

As a stand-alone verse, Mark 9:11 will leave you high on a mountain and confused. There was history, prophecy, and current events in that question. I will try to be focused, but there is so much to be talked about.

Scribes In the simplest explanation, scribes were people who used pens to write things. Many times, they worked in the palace documenting the business of the royal court. It is reasonable that Herod had scribes. The scribes in Mark 9:11 would have been the ones associated with the Pharisees and Sadducees, each group had its own. The Sadducees were more focused on the Five Books of Moses than the history and prophets.

Jentezen Franklin preached a sermon about scribes. He used Deborah and the tribe of Zebulun (the mountain may have been in their land) in the sermon. Judges 5:14 talks about the tribe of Zebulun either being scribes or having a commander’s staff. The translators are all over the battleground with that one.

The Question Just to be clear Elias = Elijah. The three disciples had just seen Elijah, so this question just had to be asked. The root of this question is in three scriptures:

  • Isaiah 40:3-This verse does not name Elijah but does describe what John was doing in the wilderness. It also made a great song.
  • Malachi 1:3-Again no mention of Elijah but a messenger who will have the people give righteous offerings. John did come before and prepared the way for Jesus by preaching righteousness and baptizing the people as a sign they had repented.
  • Malachi 4:4-6-This mentions Moses and Elijah. Elijah will be sent before the day of the Lord to restore our hearts. This will lead to the question of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelations. Personally, I believe Elijah will be one of the two, he never died but was taken in the chariot of fire. Moses will not be one because he died and was buried.

Jesus with Moses and Elijah Since I was born again, I have heard that these two men appeared at the transfiguration to represent the Law and the Prophets. Luke 9:30+31 adds that they were there to talk about His death in Jerusalem.

May I add another layer (possibly) to this story? From the test, that they failed, these men had a testimony. In Numbers 20 Moses did not honor/trust God’s holiness enough to speak to the rock. Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, feared for his life at Jezebel’s threat and ran for his life. (That makes me wonder if Satan showed up in the Garden to make Jesus afraid of dying.) I believe both of these men spoke to Jesus about not being afraid because His Holy Father would bring Him through this ordeal. Your test, pass or fail, will be part of your testimony.

Luke has a word in 9:32 that is nowhere else in any of these narratives- synestōtas. It is translated as standing with or together. This comes from the root word- synistēmi. In many of the places where forms of this word are used, it may be “recommend”. (Mounce Interlinear was a reference for this thought.)

Before the Mountain of Transfiguration (See Luke 911) Jesus fed the 5,000 and is in a private time with the disciples. Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus tells them He is going to Jerusalem to die and Peter argues with Jesus. (See Jesus Knew and Told the Disciples) He ends the conversation by saying that some of them would see His kingdom’s power before they die (James died first as part of the prophecy). Matthew, Mark, and Luke document this event.

6 or 8 Days Each of the three Gospel writers have slightly different details. Matthew and Mark say six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a mountain. Luke has eight days later. None of these writers were present for this meeting on the mountain. (I am sure the tale was told during Jesus’ last forty days on earth.) Matthew and probably Mark were present with the group that was left behind. So, who did Luke talk to in getting his version of the story? We do not know. My guess is that they were praying for two days before Jesus was transfigured and talked with Moses and Elijah. That would make all three of them right. Metaphorically, six is the number of man and eight presents new beginnings. Add these to your sermon thoughts. This location was probably “the mountain” in Galilee that the disciples were to go to after the crucifixion (Matthew 28:16).

God Spoke-The Father spoke to the three disciples from the cloud that surrounded them. Moses had that experience several times. Elijah had God speak to him in the cave. It is left to our imaginations as to how Jesus and the Father communicated when they were together.

The Gospels record three times when the audible voice of God was heard.

  1. At Jesus’s baptism-Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, and Luke 3:22. The message was you are/this is my Son, and I Am pleased with Him. It is really hard to tell how many, if any, of the Twelve Disciples were present for this.
  2. On the Mount of Transfiguration-The message is much the same as at the baptism except that the three writers all have, “Listen to Him”.
  3. The third time is in John 12:28. Jesus has just fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah for Daughter Zion and rode into Jerusalem. The Voice agreed with Jesus about glorifying the Father. Jesus added that this was for the disciples and that the world and its prince were now open for judgment.    

After the Voice, Elijah and Moses were gone from sight and the question of Mark 9:11 was asked. So, what did John the Baptist restore that Elijah had given?

I believe that the road John was paving for Jesus was one of righteousness; so, we would return to the Father. God loves righteousness, our being right with Him on His terms not on ours. 1 Corinthians 5:18-21 states that we are to be reconciled to God as righteous. Jesus walked that road and paid the price so we could be with the Father again in righteousness.

Luke, once again, has a specific thought about when they came down the mountain. In Luke 9:37 he adds “the next day”. I have a feeling that we got a summary statement for what was a great time of fellowship.

Mark 9:15 is when Jesus approached the crowd. I believe that he was in that crowd and was “overwhelmed” or ekthambeō with them. (Mark seems to be the only writer that uses this word. This is the first use and he uses various forms of the word three more times, ending in the Garden with the angels speaking to the women. I have to wonder if Jesus was still glowing. Moses had to wear a veil when he was in God’s presence. Another question to ask when we get to see Him.

Going to the next level. Start with Mark 9:11 and build a narrative of your own using all of the Gospel accounts.  

The Bride of the Lamb

I hitched the Bride of the Lamb to Daughter Zion and Eve in my last post, and I noticed something about the parables that Jesus told about weddings. This is unusual for me to do; I am going to list the references. The parables are the same in Mark, Luke, and Matthew, so I will list just Matthew.

  • Matthew 22
  • Matthew 25
  • John 3:29
  • 2 Corinthians 11:2 
  • Revelations 19:6-9
  • Revelations 21:2 and 9
  • Revelations 22:17

In Matthew, the parables are part of what I call the Sermons on Two Mounts. Matthew 22 is on the Temple Mount and is in response to the Pharisees and Sadducees challenging Jesus’ authority. They knew these parables were about them and they were trying to arrest Him. This wedding banquet parable talks about burning the city. That happened with the Babylonians and would happen again with the Romans. (It is a legend that those two destructions happened on the same day.) 22:11-14 is a passage that intrigues me. The leaders challenged Jesus again with a question about marriage, they did not like His answer.

Matthew 25 is on the Mount of Olives and is told to just His disciples. I believe this one has more to do with the Church/Bride that is about to be born on Pentecost. This parable also has a group of people who were not ready for the coming of the bridegroom.

These two parables come after Palm Sunday. This ride into the city mirrors David’s ride into Jerusalem after the death of Absolom. In the big picture of Jesus’ mission, this was when He came to pay the brides-price for us (His death on the cross). The actions of the King/Father and those of the bridegroom are what are highlighted. Yes, the Virgins had to be ready for the coming of the groom. This reflects the wedding practices of the Hebrews at that time. It should also speak to us now. The father and the bridegroom controlled the wedding, and the bride had to make herself ready. John 3:29 is John the Baptist speaking to another aspect of the bride and groom relationship and how his “Elijah relationship” worked with Jesus.

Okay. This study has surprised me with the strange fact the Bride of Christ and the Bride of the Lamb are not in any major translation (well at least I could not find them). It is a given that we belong to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2) and He is the bridegroom, and the Church will be His bride, Revelations 19:6-9 makes that connection clear. The other references in Revelations bring us back to a Daughter Zion picture with the New Jerusalem being cast as the bride and being shown off as such. The lavish gates of heaven and the gemstone foundations speak very much to a Hebrew bride being dressed in her jewels and riches. Please do not forget the righteous deeds we are to put on so we can be ready to meet Him.

The fact that the angels use “the Lamb” instead of Christ or Messiah has my attention. It seems that I do not think enough about Jesus being the Lamb.  

Why would the parables in the Gospels focus more on the bridegroom and his actions than on the bride?