Please note, I am not asking what was inside the Ark of the Covenant (question asked in June 2013) but what happened to Aaron's budding staff and the jar of manna by the time the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the temple built by Solomon.

Exodus 16:33-34 says the jar of manna was placed in the Ark in front of the stone tablets.

Numbers 17:10 says Aaron's budding staff was placed in front of/before the Ark of the Covenant.

1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10 both say that by the time the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the temple built by Solomon there was nothing inside the Ark except for the two stone tablets of the testimony/covenant.

However, Hebrews 9:1-4 says the Ark contained the two stone tablets (the terms of the covenant), Aaron's rod (or staff) and the gold jar containing manna.

What happened to Aaron's budding staff and the gold jar of manna? Were they lost or were they stolen? And why does the writer of Hebrews mention them?

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    The scripture in Hebrews is talking about back when the Ark was kept in the tent of the Tabernacle, while 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles are talking about when the Ark was put in the Temple, so there isn't a textual discrepancy since they're talking about different periods of time, but there's still the question of what happened to the manna and staff before the Ark was put in the Temple. – 4castle Jun 30 '18 at 12:32
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    Εν η, 'in which' (verse 4) relates to σκηνη,'tabernacle' (verse 3) not to κιβωτον, 'ark', (verse 4). This is clear from the literal translation of the Greek text. – Nigel J Jun 30 '18 at 14:54
  • I've removed the textual discrepancy tag. – Lesley Jul 1 '18 at 8:22

After Solomon had built the temple in Jerusalem (960 B.C.) there was nothing in the Ark except the stone tablets that Moses had put there at Horeb (1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10). The NIV Study Bible notes on 2 Chronicles 5:10 say the jar of manna and Aaron’s rod were presumably lost when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant. (See 1 Samuel 4:11 to chap. 6)

Various Bible commentators have pointed out that the tabernacle referred to in Hebrews 9:4 is the one built under Moses. The ESV Study Bible makes this comment:

“By the time of Solomon’s temple, it was noted that there was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone (1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10), but that may suggest that other items had previously been in the ark.”

Some 400 years had elapsed between the time of Moses and Aaron and the Ark of the Covenant being placed in Solomon’s temple. The fact that the Ark had been stolen by the Philistines and it took them some time to return it may mean that the Philistines looted and plundered some of its contents. Perhaps they stole the rod and the jar of manna, though given the plagues that afflicted them wherever the Ark stayed, fear would surely have prompted them to return any pilfered items!

However, Exodus 16:32-34 does not actually say the manna and rod were placed inside the Ark. It says they were ‘placed before the Lord’ in front of the Testimony. This anticipated the later description of the tablets containing the Ten Commandments as “the two tablets of the Testimony” (31:18; 32:15; 34:29) hence “the Ark of the Testimony” for ‘testimony’ is an old-fashioned word for ‘covenant’. Exodus 25:21 simply says that God instructed ‘the Testimony’ to be put inside the Ark – the stone tablets. Now, I may be wrong, but I wonder if it is mistaken to conclude that the manna and the rod were also placed inside the Ark? If I’m wrong, please may someone correct me!

Hebrews chapter 9 states that the Holiest of all in the tabernacle contained the golden censer and the Ark of the Covenant. In the Holiest part of the tabernacle was also placed the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant. This was with regard to the tabernacle and not the temple in Jerusalem. And it does not need to imply that the manna and the rod were inside the Ark; all those items were in the Holiest part, but not necessarily all inside the Ark. The censer was not inside it. The other items (apart from the stone tablets) need not have been inside it either.

My answer, therefore, covers both contingencies – that the manna and rod were inside the Ark, then stolen by the Philistines, but my own view is that they were never inside the Ark and that Exodus 16 and Hebrews 9 do not necessarily imply that they were.

  • Interesting insights, especially regarding ‘testimony’ being an old-fashioned word for ‘covenant.’ – Lesley Jul 2 '18 at 11:43
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    Perhaps I'm wrong, but wasn't the ark something that was kept closed, or at least away from where people could see it? It would make sense then for the manna to be outside it since the reasoning for saving a jar was to show future generations. – David Starkey Aug 11 at 2:39
  • @DavidStarkey - Yes,it seems the censor and the gold jar of manna were not in the ark itself but in the Tabernacle (see commentby NigelJ). – Lesley Aug 11 at 7:38

Numbers17:10 says 10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.

So we see here Moses placed the staff in front of the ark of the covenant. It was not inside.

Then again we read in 1Kings 8 6 The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. 8 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

Here we read when Solomon had finally finished building the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem that there was nothing in the ark of the covenant except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed inside it. My conclusion is that the jar of manna and Aaron's stuff were lost with time. Just like now we really don't know where the ark of the covenant is.

  • Welcome! and thanks for joining us at Christianity. We appreciate your participation. This is a good first answer as it includes references to support your conclusions. We love seeing that and I look forward to seeing more answers from you. Thanks! – JBH Jul 4 at 5:59
  • Thanks for your contribution. – Lesley Jul 6 at 9:31

Is it possible for the manna in pot to survive to this day? I agree with Anne that it is likely these might be outside of the Ark.

Please check this verse out which refers to a church in Pergamos Revelation 2:17

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the HIDDEN MANNA to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new written which no one knows except him who receives it."

FOOTNOTES in my bible suggest that Jeremiah might have hidden it during the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC according to a Jewish apocryphal mythology. I would like to point out few things about that verse.

1) Pergamos is in Turkey and also supposedly where Satan's throne is located at (Rev 2:13).

2) "he"/"him" to overcome the temptations to eat idol sacrificed food and sexual immorality

3) "SOME of the hidden manna to eat" (possibly others to eat manna?) And ONLY him to receive the white stone with new written (but to share the written with others maybe?)

  • Interesting point re Revelation 2:17. See Matthew 6:31-36 and John 6:49-50 which shows how Jesus is the "bread of life that comes down from heaven" to give eternal spiritual life. The Jews thought the coming Messiah would renew the sending of manna but Jesus pointed out it is God who provides "bread from heaven" - not Moses - and that he, Jesus is the only one who can give eternal, spiritual life to believers who overcome. No physical manna can do that! Appreciate your input. – Lesley Dec 17 '18 at 8:49

The ark is a picture what's kept with us in our heart.

Solomon only have the tablets of law in him, no remembrance of the goodness of God (manna) and fear of the Lord.

A sign of why Solomon fail, disobey God.

Without the remembrance of God's goodness, His love and fear of the Lord, the law does not bring life.

So sorry if it sounds metaphorical. The Bible is a personal guide to me, my personal journey my walk with God. The characters in the Bible guide me what I should watch over.

If I'm only have the law in my heart but God love is not in me, His goodness, recounting His goodness in my life and fear Him because He is love, the law would not have effect to have a transform life in me.

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    If you're making a case for an entirely metaphorical interpretation of Hebrews you need to back it up with something (i.e. where did you hear this) otherwise it reads like your opinion and your answer will have to be removed (even if it is a good point) – Peter Turner 2 days ago

Hebrews 9:4 (KJV) states: "Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; "

My thoughts are these items were in the Ark of the Covenant.

Also, Ezekiel 11:23 (KJV) states "And the glory of the Lord ascended from the middle of the city," Am I wrong to think that this removal of God's presence from Jerusalem included the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple?

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