How many arks are in the Bible?
First up we can think of 2; there’s Noah’s Ark first mentioned in Genesis 6. This ark was built by Noah at God’s command and it was built for the purpose of saving both the human race and the animal kingdom from annihilation when God flooded the earth in a global judgment. This ark was a means of salvation for all living creatures and human beings.
Second, there’s the Ark of the Covenant first mentioned in Exodus 25. This ark was built by craftsmen at Moses instruction after God commanded Moses to have it built. The purpose of this ark was a representation of God’s presence among His people, but the Ark of the Covenant was to reside in the Holy of Holies, and upon the Ark was the Mercy Seat that had the blood of the goat sprinkled on it each year on the Day of Atonement, to take away the sins of the people, and paying for their salvation.
Both these arks were used for the purpose of salvation.
The Hebrew word for ‘ark’ in reference to the vessel Noah built is ‘ta-va’ and the first definition means a ‘vessel’, and the second definition means a ‘basket’.
The Hebrew word for ‘ark’ in reference to the Ark of the Covenant is ‘ar-on’ and it means a chest, a cupboard, a box, even a coffin. It’s a container basically.
Can you think of another ‘ark’ in the Bible?
The word ‘ta-va’ is actually used in two different contexts in the Bible; the first context is in regard to the vessel Noah built. The second context it’s used in is found in Exodus.
Exodus 2:1-5, ‘Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid and she brought it to her.’
This of course is the story of Moses birth and the extent his parents went to in order to save his life. Remember that Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew baby boys were to be murdered to slow down the growth rate of the Hebrew people. Moses was kept secret, then placed in a basket, a ‘ta-va’ (ark covered with pitch), set on the Nile river and eventually taken by Pharaoh’s own daughter and raised as an Egyptian prince. We know of course that Moses went on to bring salvation and freedom for his people and is known by Jews around the world as the greatest prophet Israel ever had.
Again, in this instance, the ark is associated very strongly with salvation: salvation for Moses as a baby, and grew up as a ‘messianic figure’ who brought salvation and freedom from slavery for his people.
So if Moses was a type or forerunner of the Messiah, we see immediately a similarity between both of them as infants. When Moses was a three-month old infant, he was placed inside a small wicker basket and his life was saved from certain death. He went on to save his people. When Jesus was born, He was a brand new infant who was laid in a manger and when He grew up into a Man, He led both His own people as well as the Gentile world to salvation – to all those who would believe.
The word for manger is not connected with the word ‘ark’, I’m merely making the connection that Jesus was laid in a vessel, a container, as an infant in a similar fashion to Moses being laid in a vessel or container when he was an infant and that both Moses and Jesus missions to their people was salvation.
When we see words that have obvious connections and meanings, it’s important to see what the richer implications are. We’ve learned before about the different Jewish methods of interpreting Scripture, the Peshat, the Remez and the Derash…(not bothering with the Sod or esoteric interpretation), and if we look at the plain meaning of the accounts – Peshat – with regard to the use of the word ‘ark’ it’s very obvious.
Since all Scripture points to the Promised Messiah, Saviour, Jesus Christ, He Himself was laid in a container as an infant and grew up to be the means of salvation Himself, by dying on a cross to pay for the sins of humanity.
If we look at the Remez and or the Derash meanings of the Messiah – the means of our salvation – Jesus is the symbolic, prophetic and allegorical picture of the Vessel, the Ark, that protects and carries us and brings us to safety. Jesus is our Ark of the New Covenant paid for in His own blood, poured out for us freely.
The word ‘chest’ is also a completely suitable word, and is part of the definition for the Hebrew word ‘ta-va’, the word for ark in the stories of Noah and Moses. When we think of a ‘chest’, usually our first thought is a treasure chest, something pirates seek to find and hoard.
Well, the arks or chests we’ve been looking at contain the greatest treasures the earth has ever encountered because the arks are the bringers of salvation, and that’s the very heart of the Gospel, the Good News. Jesus Christ – Yeshua – whose very name means salvation, IS our Ark. He’s IS the treasure, the real treasure who indwells us, keeps us and sustains us.
Based on an article at oneforisrael.org