What was inside the Ark of the covenant? | 10 Commandments | Manna

by Matt Slick

The Ark of the Covenant contained the two tablets of law, known as the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses, Aaron's rod which budded, and a jar of manna.  Heb. 9:4, "having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant."

Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments with the two tablets of the Law written by the finger of God that were given to Moses.  They were engraved in stone (Exodus 31:18) and the cover the laws concerning the proper worship of God and the proper conduct before people. They are listed in Exodus 20:2-17.

  • Exodus 25:16, "And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you."
  • Exodus 31:18, "And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God."
  • Exodus 34:29, "And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him."
  • Exodus 40:20, "Then he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top of the ark."

Aaron's Rod

Aaron was Moses' brother.  It was probably the same rod that became a serpent and consumed the rods of Pharaoh's magicians. "That rod was instrumental in the events leading to the pharaoh’s release of the Israelites. When it became a snake and devoured the rods of the pharaoh’s magicians, the superiority of the Lord’s power was demonstrated (Ex 7:8–13). It was used to turn the waters of the Nile to blood (Ex 7:14–23) V 1, p 4 p 4 and to bring about the plagues of frogs (Ex 8:1–15) and gnats or lice (Ex 8:16–19). When Moses stretched the rod out over the waters of the Red Sea the Israelites were allowed to pass through on dry land, but the army of Egypt was destroyed (Ex 14)."1

  • Exodus 4:1-5, "Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” 2 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
  • Numbers 17:10, "But the Lord said to Moses, 'Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they should not die.'”

Jar of Manna

Manna was a food that was given by God to the Israelites to sustain them during their time in the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:35) for 40 years (Exodus 16:35). It was supposed to be sweet (Exodus 16:31). The Israelites were only allowed to gather it one day at a time except for the Sabbath day before which they were allowed to gather enough for two days.

  • Exodus 16:33, "Moses said to Aaron, 'Take a jar and put an omerful2 of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.'"
  • Exodus 16:35, "And the sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan."
  • Numbers 11:7-9, "Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. 8 The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9 And when the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it."
  • 1. Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.
  • 2. An omer was 1/10 of an ephah (Exodus 16:16-36), and was probably the size of a common bowl. It was probably 2.3 quarts. (Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.)

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.