The Ark-The Poles

As a type and shadow, the poles of the Ark represent the Holy Spirit. I will narrow the area of that broad statement to the movement of the Trinity among men. The Spirit does many other things that may not come across with the model I will set up.

The Poles

Exodus 25:13 is the description of the poles that were meant for the Ark. They were to be acacia wood and covered with gold. That is it, no length, no amount of gold, nothing super-secret or fancy. The websites below offer some ideas and good guesses and literal interpretations of some numbers we have been given. There is sound reasoning for some guesses, but they are still good guesses. For me, that just shows that there is much about the Trinity we don’t know and I am secure in them not telling everything. Exodus 25:10-15 is an important section for this study.

Why acacia wood? Those types of trees grow in the area. (If you do a search, use acacia trees in Saudi Arabia or Jordan, they also grow in Africa.)

There were other poles that had to be made for the altar, table, menorah, etc. The instructions and descriptions were basically the same, but these poles were not to stay in the other Tabernacle articles. They were to be removed during times of use.

The poles of the Ark were not to be separated from the Ark once they were inserted into the four rings that were attached to the feet of “the box”. What a beautiful representation of the Trinity. Three separate pieces makeup one item and yet they maintain a personal identity and function.

I will offer this from the information and explanations from these two sites. I believe the Ark’s poles may have been up to fifteen feet in length. That would have them “filling” the space of the Holy of Holies but not sticking outside of the tent.

Who Carried the Ark

Numbers 4 is an important chapter that is worth the time to go read so you get the “big picture”. The Kohathites (Moses and Aaron were Kohathites) had the privilege and responsibilities for everything that was used in the acts of worship inside the Tabernacle. They had to carry everything on their shoulders. The Gershonites and Merarites got carts, not the Kohathites.

How Many

One piece of information that is not supplied is how many men carried each item, another mystery. Depending on where the rings were attached to the feet on the Ark, those poles could have allowed 4, 8, 12, or 16 men to carry the Ark. How? A THEORY.  15 feet times 12 inches = 180 inches. 2 ½ cubits equals 45 inches, the long side. 1 ½ cubit equals 27 inches, the short side. You do the math. There was enough space on the short side for four men on each of the 4 parts of the poles sticking away from the Ark. Those numbers (4, 8, 12, and16) are all mentioned in the Bible, sixteen is used the least, but has some important events associated with it.

The bearers holding the poles would have to be the same height (equal) or the Ark would have been uneven. The Mercy Seat (the Father) was solid, pure gold. It sat in a “crown” or trim that went around the “box”, but it may have been top heavy. So, the carrying poles needed to be even.

Questions, Types and Shadows

  • Why two poles? It could have been carried with just one pole. It would have hung from one pole, so the pole would have been over the Mercy Seat. The two poles made it necessary for four groups to carry the Ark. Types here could show priests, prophets, royal line, and people; apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastoring-teachers (that is another study, but the Greek may allow or say the “first four” who teach).
  • Why did rings for the poles have to be on the feet? That would require the Ark to be picked up. It has to be on the shoulders. This placement would have raised it high in the air, over the heads of the bearers. “He was high and lifted up and His train filled the Temple.” (Isaiah 6:1) If you saw the Ark being moved, you have raised your head up to see it clearly.
  • Would the direction (long side vs. the short side) the Ark is carried make a difference? Carrying it from the short side would be more like a throne or chair being moved.
  • Could a priest carry the Ark? I would say no. The Sons of Aaron were Kohathites, but not all Kohathites were Sons of Aaron. The fall of Jerusalem and Jeremiah is the only question mark time I have and they say nothing about moving the Ark.
  • In our Old Testament, the Spirit “rested” on men, just as the Poles rested on men’s shoulders. In the New Testament, things changed. Two Poles, two covenants.
  • The Poles were visible to the people and had to be touched in order to move the Presence of God here on earth. Think about that for a while. Several layers of material covered the Mercy Seat and the Ark during moving, this was to protect the Kohathites.
  • Those who bear the Ark had to be equal, or the Presence of God might fall over or be hard to move. You may hold people in honor, but all are equal who move the Presence on the earth today. 
  • A priest died when David imitated the Philistines and put the Ark on a cart. Move with God His way, and not like how the Philistines thought they should move God.

Thought Questions

  1. David loved God, but how do you know he did not read the Torah as he was supposed to?
  2. What qualities of acacia wood made it suitable for the “box” and poles?
  3. How do those qualities reflect Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
  4. Was Josiah right in 2 Chronicles 35:3?

9 thoughts on “The Ark-The Poles

  1. Pingback: The Sons of Korah | Mark's Bible Study

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  3. Is it not Jesus that the Ark represents? See John 20:12 – here we see cherubim sitting at the head and foot of the place where Jesus’ body was laid – this is the ARK that connects directly to the OT Ark. Jesus’ Cross was made of two poles. Shown here in Exodus 25, these two poles represent the Cross. We are to take up our cross daily – live a crucified life. In that way we can carry the glory without being destroyed.

    • Wright, thank you for your questions and statements. Types and shadows have been the fuel and starting point for many of my studies. This series is up to four posts. I have not done the Mercy Seat and you have given me the topic for at least one more. From Exodus, I took the Ark as representing God. There were three parts of the Ark that made a whole (some of this is in the post The Ark).
      From John, I saw where Jesus was laid at the Mercy Seat, and that was Him being offered before the Father, the perfect sacrifice. My post The Ark – The Chest explores Jesus as the box, the Father as the top, and the poles, as the Spirit, allowing us to “touch” the Trinity. I think the tomb represents the Mercy Seat (the Father). It would be an awkward picture for Jesus to be laid on Himself. There may have been a custom where a vessel of blood was collected and put with the body.
      I am learning that types and shadows are driven by several things-examples in the Bible (Jonah and Jesus), denominational leanings, a favorite preacher, and medieval art. (I am sure there are more.) Sometimes there is more than one lesson to be learned from a story and different levels or depths in any type and shadow.
      I agree that the cross was made of two pieces of wood, it is interesting to have them represent the cross (the question for another study). It would be nice to know what Helena found in Jerusalem that she called the True Cross. Some experts lean toward Jesus only carrying the crosspiece. The upright may not have moved and was always there as a reminder of “Roman power”. (Wood was valuable.)

      • Thank you Mark, for responding to my message with a lot of thought and introspection. I know you are right about more than one lesson being built into the types and shadows that speak of Jesus. The beauty of the Bible is there is no end to the depths we can go – I love that the Lord finds pleasure as we search to know Him.

      • Thank you for your kind words. May the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit always be with you.

  4. Pingback: The Cross | Mark's Bible Study

  5. Pingback: The Ark – Mercy Seat | Mark's Bible Study

  6. Pingback: The Poles of the Ark and the Philistines | Mark's Bible Study

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