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 was 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.

4 Answers 4


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."

  • There is a good article from the Rabbinic scholar community about the "shelf" attached to the ark to support the book, and how the Rabbis agree that it is an open question. Jul 16, 2022 at 23:16

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).

  • 1
    Verses to support: Numbers 17:10 (17:25), Exodus 16:33,34
    – Ryan Frame
    Jun 10, 2013 at 13:03
  • interesting translation. Reminds me of a Rush song.
    – Peter Turner
    Jun 10, 2013 at 14:48
  • Sorry! I'm not asking about stone tablets. I'm asking about the scrolls of Torah.
    – Mawia
    Jun 10, 2013 at 14:56
  • 1
    @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, 2013 at 16:00
  • 1
    @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, 2013 at 20:52

Exo 25:16

“And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you". The Hebrew here is not בְּקִרְבּוֹ but rather אֶל־הָאָרֹן. Furthermore, מִצַּד is translated different ways in the Greek Septuagint with different Greek words in Jos. 3:16, Jos. 12:9,(πλησίον near/neighbor) Ruth 2:14(πλαγίων ), 1 Sam. 20:25. מִצַּד is literally from the side or out of the side. The Greek ἐκ πλαγίων.( "ἐκ" out of, "πλαγίων" oblique.) I think that might be significant when understanding that Hebrew context ultimately decides the translation of words.

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    – agarza
    Jul 16, 2022 at 19:23
  • The real problem with this is the word "testimony". Elsewhere (Exodus 31:18, 32:15, 34:29) it is used as "two tables of testimony", which is considered to be the Commandments, not the Torah. Jul 17, 2022 at 12:57
  • I am thinking if the Torah was to be placed beside the ark why not use the Hebrew אֵצֶל as in many verses when referring to the altar. Lev 1:16 And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside(אֵצֶל) the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes: Jul 17, 2022 at 23:06
  • The Torah was to be a "witness". “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness(עֵד) against you; Deut. 31:26 This Hebrew word is essentially the same as testimony. Jul 18, 2022 at 2:24

There are 2 books: The Book of the Covenant and the Book of the Law.

The book of the covenant is inside the ark, the book of the law is on the outside.

Exodus 25:16 says you shall put INTO the ark the Covenant "law" (book of the covenant) Everything from Gen 1:1 - Exod 24:11

This includes: the Feast Days--these are not JEWISH they are GOD'S, the dietary commandments, and the "10 words" on stone that Moses broke.

Deut 31:26 says to put the book of the law beside the ark of the covenant as a testimony AGAINST the children of Israel because they sinned and YHWH (GOD) was upset with them. (book of the law) Ex. 24:12 - Deut

The Promise belongs to Abraham's seed. Those who do the work of Abraham will be saved...not to Aaron/Levi's seed. It is not about genealogy, the only blood that matters is Jesus's blood.

Abraham wasn't a Jew, he didn't go to a temple and he never knew a Levite.

Abraham paid tithe to Melchizadek.

Jesus is in the order of Melchizadek Hebrews 6:20.


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