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Deuteronomy 31:24-26 (NIV) After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.

This verse indicates that the Torah was placed beside the Ark of the Covenant and stood there as a witness. But this Wikipedia mentions the Torah as once kept inside the Ark.

Was there any chance ever that the Torah was kept inside the Ark? Is there any verse supporting it? (If the information in Wikipedia is not credible, someone must update it)

Note: Readers should not be confused between Torah (book) and the stone tablets (10 Commandments). The question here is about the Book, not the tablets.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The rabbis debate the meaning of the verse in Bava Batra 14b. מִצַּד is a rare combination, but it certainly means "beside" in Jos. 3:16, Jos. 12:9, Ruth 2:14, 1 Sam. 20:25. I see no instances where it can unequivocally be asserted to mean "in," "inside," or "within." Had Moshe intended to say that it was placed "inside" the Ark, why wouldn't he have written ב or בקרב instead?

For example, using the same verb that is found in Deut. 31:26 (a conjugation of the verb שׂוּם, meaning "to put" or "to place"), Isaiah writes (Isa. 63:11),

...Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within him?

The prophet uses the prepositional phrase בְּקִרְבּוֹ (bekirbo). The context makes it clear that God puts or places His Holy Spirit inside an individual.

Another example is Deut. 10:2 where we find, again, the same verb, but this time, Moshe uses the prepositional prefix ב.

And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the Ark.

Here, God commands Moshe to put the tables (which have the Ten Commandments written upon them) in the Ark, which is translated from the Hebrew phrase בָּאָרוֹן (ba'aron).

So, the tablets are placed בָּאָרוֹן, "in the Ark." Why not write the same for the Torah scroll if indeed it was located "in the Ark"? There's simply nothing which explicitly confirms that it was indeed located in the Ark. Again, the prepositional phrase מִצַּד is never used in a context meaning "inside" or "in."

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Depending on the translation, it could be rendered "in the side" or "by the side" or "beside".

The tablets given to Moses were kept inside the Ark, as was the rod that budded, and manna (Heb 9:4).

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Verses to support: Numbers 17:10 (17:25), Exodus 16:33,34 – Ryan Frame Jun 10 '13 at 13:03
interesting translation. Reminds me of a Rush song. – Peter Turner Jun 10 '13 at 14:48
Sorry! I'm not asking about stone tablets. I'm asking about the scrolls of Torah. – Mawia Jun 10 '13 at 14:56
@Mawia: I believe he's saying it could be translated "Take this Book of the Law and place it in the side of the ark of the covenant...". If this translation is accurate, then the Torah was in the ark. – Ryan Frame Jun 10 '13 at 16:00
@RyanFrame That translation is not accurate. The word unambiguously means beside. Any translation of mitzad as "in the side" would be (IMO incorrect) interpretation on top of translation. – Daniel Aug 26 '13 at 20:52

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