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?

  • 2
    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.
    – user32540
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 12:32
  • 4
    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
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 14:54
  • I've removed the textual discrepancy tag.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 8:22
  • @4castle please consider working that into an answer Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 17:57

9 Answers 9


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. See Nigel J's comment to the OP above, re. the original language words used.

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
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 11:43
  • 2
    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. Commented Aug 11, 2019 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
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 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
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 5:59
  • Thanks for your contribution.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jul 6, 2019 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
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 8:49

The answer is as simple as it appears in that scripture.., by the time of writing this scripture the Israelites we're already in the promised land and through Solomon, the LORD had a dwelling where His name is.

The Israelites journey through the wilderness is synonymous or can be compared to the Christian walk of faith through the wilderness of Repentance as they await to be ushered into HEAVEN their promise Land....

The Israelites journey through the wilderness was marked with miracles signs and wonders but as they entered the promised Land, these wonders seized... Its therefore safe to say that the presence of the rod of Aaron and the Jar of Manna in the wilderness represented this miracles, signs and wonders.... The Manna was their continuous and miraculous provision as they traversed the wilderness, the rod was a symbol of priesthood that was miraculously appointed by Jehovah Himself.... In a similar manner the Christian walk on Earth is marked by this signs and wonders but the moment we get to heaven the miracles will be no more and that's the same reason the Ark of the NEW COVENANT OF THE LORD in Heaven has only the Bible inside.... That's why the rod of Aaron and jar of Manna was missing because they represented the miracles and wonders of God but since they have already found rest in the promised land, there was no need of them been there.

Its an attestation of the scripture that says that Heaven and earth will pass away but my WORD will remain forever.. that stone tablets represent the WORD of God.


We do not know. The Greek word for "in" is G1722 which can and is also translated as "with", "among" or "at". (Strongs Concordance) It may denote a relational location. It does however seem that these items were perhaps at one time within the ark and under the mercy seat. If so, it seems they were most likely removed by the Philistine men at Beth-Shemesh, who looked inside the ark. 1 Samuel 6:19

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    – agarza
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 17:18
  • I recommend Daniel B Wallace's Beyond the Basics for a thorough explanation of Greek prepositions (which is beyond the scope of a Concordance). 'Under the mercy seat' is conjecture without reference to the historic documentation. Welcome to BH.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 7:44
  • It was not the Philistines who looked into the ark and were smitten. The men of Bethshemesh were among those of Israel. It was a territory belonging to Judah, according to 2 Kings 14:11.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 7:43

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?


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.

If this answer is inappropriate, please remove.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 20:24

This is from Cambridge Commentary

There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone] We read in Hebrews 9:4 that in the ark of the covenant ‘was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded’ as well as the tables of the covenant, and we may be sure that the writer there speaks according to tradition. The Old Testament narrative (Exodus 16:34) says that the pot of manna was laid up ‘before the testimony’ and the same expression is used (Numbers 17:10) concerning Aaron’s rod. This does not define whether they were put inside or on the outside of the ark. But it is most probable that during the time when the ark was moved from place to place they were kept inside it, but as soon as it was placed within the Temple they were removed. For the tables of stone were alone intended to be stored in the ark, being ‘the testimony (Exodus 25:16) which God had given to Israel.’ The other things would still be ‘before the testimony’ if they were placed outside.

  • 1
    Could you please provide the link to the material you have quoted from the Cambridge Commentary?
    – Lesley
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 15:34

First, I would like to say that the Greek text of Hebrews 9:4 does support the idea that the pot of manna and Aaron's rod were in the ark of the covenant. The reason this is so is because the Greek word for "ark" is feminine, even though it doesn't look like it. There are other Greek nouns like this as well, but this isn't common.

As correctly stated in a comment, "Εν η" is the phrase "in which" in Hebrews 9:4. The "η" is feminine. Since "κιβωτον" ("ark") is feminine, "η" can refer to "ark."

Verse 5 says, "And over it [αυτης] the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat ...." If "η" in vs. 4 referred to the tabernacle, then "αυτης" in vs. 5 should as well, since it's feminine too. But the cherubim shadowing the mercyseat refers to the cherubim on the top of the ark, not cherubim over the tabernacle.

And so, what happened to the pot of manna and Aaron's rod prior to Solomon's temple being inaugurated?

  • Revelation 2:17 refers to hidden manna.
  • Revelation 11:19 refers to the ark of the new covenant in the heavenly temple.
  • Hebrews 8:5 indicates that the earthly tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly.

If the earthly copy of the heavenly ark contained a pot of manna and a rod that budded, it would be logical if the heavenly did as well. But since there is no indication that the earthly pot of manna and Aaron's rod were copies of anything, it would make sense that these two items were transferred from the earthly ark to the heavenly ark at some point in time.

  • Do you think the cherubim of vs. 5 are over the tabernacle or over the ark? If over the ark, then the manna, rod, and tablets must be in the ark. Vs. 3. μετα δε το δευτερον καταπετασμα σκηνη η λεγομενη αγια αγιων Vs. 4. χρυσουν εχουσα θυμιατηριον και την κιβωτον της διαθηκης περικεκαλυμμενην παντοθεν χρυσιω εν η σταμνος χρυση εχουσα το μαννα και η ραβδος ααρων η βλαστησασα και αι πλακες της διαθηκης What specifically about the Greek shows that "in which" is referring to the tabernacle instead of the ark? "Ark" is certainly the closest feminine antecedent.
    – Bob Pickle
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 11:43
  • Since the Greek of Hebrews 9 says that there were three things in the ark originally, the manna and the rod along with the tablets, that brings us back to the question originally posed: What happened to the manna and the rod? My suggestion is that they are now in the heavenly ark. Do you see any problem with that suggestion?
    – Bob Pickle
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 13:31
  • How would that be a problem with my suggestion? Hebrews teaches that the earthly tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly, which would explain why Revelation 4 refers to the heavenly 7 lamps of fire, Revelation 8 refers to the heavenly altar of incense, and Revelation 11:19 refers to the heavenly ark of the new covenant. And it has to be the ark of the new covenant since Hebrews explicitly identifies the earthly sanctuary as being that of the old covenant and the heavenly sanctuary as being that of the new covenant. Is your concern more regarding the implications of these ideas?
    – Bob Pickle
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 3:19
  • Does that mean that heaven itself is a concept, and not a real place? I don't think so. If the Bible presents heavenly things as being real, we should just accept it as fact. Angels are real, not just concepts. Of course, the reality of an actual ark of the new covenant in the most holy place of the heavenly temple teaches concepts as well. The cherubim on the earthly ark represents the covering cherubim beside God's throne, of which Satan was once one according to Ezek. 28. The position of the cherubim represent the interest and reverence the angels show God's law & the plan of salvation.
    – Bob Pickle
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 13:04
  • I don't see why that would mean that the books of Revelation, Hebrews, and Ezekiel are wrong to say that there is a temple in heaven with an ark, covering cherubim, 7 lamps of fire, and altar of incense. Even though "He maketh His angels spirits," many people in the Bible saw angels. Isaiah described the ones he saw as having 6 wings. We just need to accept the Bible's statements and not try to find ways around what it says.
    – Bob Pickle
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 2:08

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