We’re sorry to use such an unfamiliar term, but the common term Ark of the Covenant may not accurately describe the sacred box that originally held the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the writings of Moses, the manna, and the walking stick of Aaron. For the meaning of the ancient English word ‘ark’ has been lost in history, and the second word, ‘covenant’ (meaning, sacred agreement) isn’t always used as part of the name in the Greek text.
Note that in some places in the Septuagint text, it is called the kiboton marturion, which literally means, Box [of] Testimony. And the reason why it could be properly called that, is because the box was built to hold the Proofs of the things that God did for IsraEl. So this is why, wherever the words kiboton marturion appear in the text, we have called it the Chest of Proofs.
However, it was in fact called the Chest of the Sacred Agreement (or Ark of the Covenant) at Exodus 27:21 and in other places. But after the IsraElites settled in the Promised Land, it was always referred to as the kiboton marturion, or Chest of Proofs in the Septuagint text.
Something that most people don’t realize though, is that during the time of the Prophet SamuEl and the High-Priest Eli, the Philistines captured the Chest, emptied its contents, and returned it to IsraEl empty. According to the Bible account there, they returned it because it brought a plague on their people (see 1 Samuel 5:12).
However, later on, the sacred tablets containing the Ten Commandments are once again mentioned as being in the Chest during the time of King Solomon (but nothing else… see 1 Kings 8:9);
So we must assume that these less-perishable items had been found and returned.
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