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When the tabernacle was first built in the wilderness, and the ark installed therein, the ark also contained "the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded" (Hebrews 9:4), but these had at some unknown time been removed, possibly because of their ephemeral testimony which was no longer needed. The two tablets with God's law--the very essence of His covenant with Israel--were retained permanently, even during the time when the ark was away from the tabernacle and in the hands of the Philistines. It was originally called "the ark of the testimony" (Exodus 25:22) but, at least by the time of Joshua, came to be known only as the ark of the covenant. Evidently when Judah was taken into exile in Babylon, the ark was carried into heaven, where it remains today (Revelation 11:19).
KJV Defenders Study Bible, by Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
DEF 10 ISBN 0-529-10444-x
DEF 10-1 ISBN 0-529-10445-8