2 Chronicles 5: What Was in the Ark of the Covenant?
Like I have said many times before, people like to get Bible verses out of context and make brutal attacks on the credibility of Christianity. You can find one of those popular attack points in 2 Chronicles 5.
2Ch 5:10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
It seems like a rather mundane verse about the Ark of the Covenant, but look at what happens when you go to Hebrews.
Heb 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;
It seems as if red lights go on right about here. One verse said that the only thing in the Ark were the stone tablets that the 10 Commandments were written on while the other said that it had more items in it.
How can we possibly reconcile this without contradiction?
First of all, there is a time difference here. The items were put in at the time of Moses, but this passage from Chronicles was in the time of Solomon. That is a time difference that could make a difference.
However, we never have an absolute reference in the Bible that says why certain things were removed or how they came to be removed. As a result, anything that I write from here on out is speculation that I am making only to demonstrate that a story can exist without contradiction. I do believe that in the beginning there were three items, and at the end there was one. I believe that because that is what the Bible says.
All that being said, 500 years is a long time for a piece of wood to survive (I have heard that as an estimate of the time between Moses and David). It is quite possible that the rod of Aaron simply decomposed. Wood would never last that long unless it was petrified, but it does not seem like the conditions would have been right in the Ark for that process to occur. There certainly could be supernatural protection, but this does seem like a definite possibility of how there was no more rod.
The golden bowl full of manna is a little bit trickier. On first thought, I would say that the manna also simply went bad and decomposed. I don’t know of any food that would last 500 years. However, that answer is not completely satisfying given what we know from Exodus.
Exo 16:32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
Exo 16:33 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.
Exo 16:34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Even though manna only lasted a short period of time before it went bad on the Israelites, it seemed as God was going to provide some type of protection given that the intent was to show it to future generations. Also, the bowl would not have decomposed. It was made out of gold.
Personally, I think that the best answer to this lies in the fact that the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in the book of 1 Samuel. If you remember that story, every city they took it to got all kinds of painful diseases. We know that the Ark was with them for seven months. Is it possible that someone tried to open the Ark and take something out? In fact, what if they were to take out something of value that was perhaps made of gold like a bowl?
You might say that you were not allowed to touch the Ark and live. Again, I would agree with you, but I would say that is not that hard to use a long board to pry the top off and pull out the only item in there that would be of value in the market. Stone tablets probably would not be worth very much, but the golden pot would be.
Again, to reiterate, I don’t know the absolute answer to this one. What I do know is that there were three items, and then there was only one. There are certainly people out there who will all of a sudden say that because there is something that could appear to be a contradiction, the Bible must all of a sudden be thrown out.
However, I hope that I have at least shown you a little bit of how this could have occurred. What some people would jump on as a contradiction certainly does not need to be if you apply a little bit of common sense.