Noah's ark, a building of gopher-wood, and covered with pitch, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high (Ge 6:14-16); an oblong floating house of three stories, with a door in the side and a window in the roof. It was 100 years in building (Ge 5:32; 7:6). It was intended to preserve certain persons and animals from the deluge which God was about to bring over the earth. It contained eight persons (Ge 7:13; 2Pe 2:5), and of all "clean" animals seven pairs, and of "unclean" one pair, and of birds seven pairs of each sort (Ge 7:2-3). It was in the form of an oblong square, with flat bottom and sloping roof. Traditions of the Deluge, by which the race of man was swept from the earth, and of the ark of Noah have been found existing among all nations.
The ark of bulrushes in which the infant Moses was laid (Ex 2:3) is called in the Hebrew teebah, a word derived from the Egyptian teb, meaning "a chest." It was daubed with slime and with pitch. The bulrushes of which it was made were the papyrus reed.
The sacred ark is designated by a different Hebrew word, 'aron', which is the common name for a chest or coffer used for any purpose (Ge 50:26; 2Ki 12:9-10). It is distinguished from all others by such titles as the "ark of God" (1Sa 3:3), "ark of the covenant" (Jos 3:6; Heb 9:4), "ark of the testimony" (Ex 25:22). It was made of acacia or shittim wood, a cubit and a half broad and high and two cubits long, and covered all over with the purest gold. Its upper surface or lid, the mercy-seat, was surrounded with a rim of gold; and on each of the two sides were two gold rings, in which were placed two gold-covered poles by which the ark could be carried (Nu 7:9; 10:21; 4:5,19-20; 1Ki 8:3,6). Over the ark, at the two extremities, were two cherubim, with their faces turned toward each other (Le 16:2; Nu 7:89). Their outspread wings over the top of the ark formed the throne of God, while the ark itself was his footstool (Ex 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The ark was deposited in the "holy of holies," and was so placed that one end of the poles by which it was carried touched the veil which separated the two apartments of the tabernacle (1Ki 8:8). The two tables of stone which constituted the "testimony" or evidence of God's covenant with the people (De 31:26), the "pot of manna" (Ex 16:33), and "Aaron's rod that budded" (Nu 17:10), were laid up in the ark (Heb 9:4). (See Tabernacle) The ark and the sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (La 2:1). During the journeys of the Israelites the ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Nu 4:5-6; 10:33-36; Ps 68:1; 132:8). It was borne by the priests into the bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the whole of the host to pass over (Jos 3:15-16; 4:7,10-11,17-18). It was borne in the procession round Jericho (6/4/type/net'>Jos 6:4,6,8,11-12). When carried it was always wrapped in the veil, the badgers' skins, and blue cloth, and carefully concealed even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it. After the settlement of Israel in Palestine the ark remained in the tabernacle at Gilgal for a season, and was then removed to Shiloh till the time of Eli, between 300 and 400 years (Jer 7:12), when it was carried into the field of battle so as to secure, as they supposed, victory to the Hebrews, and was taken by the Philistines (1Sa 4:3-11), who sent it back after retaining it seven months (1Sa 5:7-8). It remained then at Kirjath-jearim (1Sa 7:1-2) till the time of David (twenty years), who wished to remove it to Jerusalem; but the proper mode of removing it having been neglected, Uzzah was smitten with death for putting "forth his hand to the ark of God," and in consequence of this it was left in the house of Obed-edom in Gath-rimmon for three months (2Sa 6:1-11), at the end of which time David removed it in a grand procession to Jerusalem, where it was kept till a place was prepared for it (2Sa 6:12-19). It was afterwards deposited by Solomon in the temple (1Ki 8:6-9). When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and plundered the temple, the ark was probably taken away by Nebuchadnezzar and destroyed, as no trace of it is afterwards to be found. The absence of the ark from the second temple was one of the points in which it was inferior to the first temple.
Illustration: Ark of the Covenant
(See NOAH.) The term (teebah) is applied to the infant Moses' ark. (See BULRUSH.) Teebah is evidently the Egyptian teb, "a chest," Hebraised. It has no Semitic equivalent. It is a type of the manger which disclosed to the shepherds Messiah, who, beginning with the manger, at last ascended to His Father's throne; also of the paper ark to which God has committed His revelation.
This word, from Lat. arca, 'a chest,' is the rendering of two Hebrew words, of which one (t
ARK, arca, denotes a kind of floating vessel built by Noah, for the preservation of himself and family, with several species of animals during the deluge. The Hebrew word by which the ark is expressed, is ??? or ????, the constructive form of ???, which is evidently the Greek ????; and so the LXX render the word in Ex 2:3, where only it again occurs. They also render it ???????; Josephus, ???????; and the Vulgate arcam; signifying an ark, coffer, or chest. Although the ark of Noah answered, in some respects, the purpose of a ship, it is not so certain that it was of the same form and shape. It has been inconclusively argued by Michaelis and some others, that if its form had not been like that of a ship, it could not have resisted the force of the waves; because it was not intended to be conducted, like a ship, from one place to another, but merely "to float on the surface of the waters," Ge 7:17. It appears to have had neither helm, nor mast, nor oars; but was merely a bulky capacious vessel, light enough to be raised aloft with all its contents, by the gradual rise of the deluge. Its shape, therefore, was of little importance; more especially as it seems to have been the purpose of Providence, in this whole transaction, to signify to those who were saved, as well as to their latest posterity, that their preservation was not in any degree effected by human contrivance. The ark in which Moses was exposed bears the same name; and some have thought that both were of the same materials. With respect to the etymology of the Hebrew word, the most rational seems to be that of Clodius, who derives it from the Arabic word ???, "he collected," from which is formed ???, or ????, denoting a place in which things are collected. Foster deduces it from two Egyptian words, thoi, "a ship," and bai, "a palm tree branch;" and such ships are still to be seen not only in Egypt, but in India and other countries; particularly in some isles of the Pacific Ocean.
To the insufficiency of the ark to contain all the creatures said to have been brought into it, objections have, at different times, been made. Bishop Wilkins and others have learnedly discussed this subject, and afforded the most satisfactory answers. Dr. Hales proves the ark to have been of the burden of forty-two thousand four hundred and thirteen tons; and asks, "Can we doubt of its being sufficient to contain eight persons, and about two hundred or two hundred and fifty pair of four-footed animals, (a number to which, according to M. Buffon, all the various distinct species may be reduced,) together with all the subsistence necessary for a twelvemonth, with the fowls of the air, and such reptiles and insects as cannot live under water?" All these various animals were controlled by the power of God, whose special agency is supposed in the whole transaction, and "the lion was made to lie down with the kid." Whether Noah was commanded to bring with him, into the ark, a pair of all living creatures, zoologically and numerically considered, has been doubted. During the long period between the creation and the flood, animals must have spread themselves over a great part of the antediluvian earth, and certain animals would, as now, probably become indigenous to certain climates. The pairs saved must therefore, if all the kinds were included, have travelled from immense distances. But of such marches no intimation is given in the history; and this seems to render it probable that the animals which Noah was "to bring with him" into the ark, were the animals clean and unclean of the country in which he dwelt, and which, from the capacity of the ark, must have been in great variety and number. The terms used, it is true, are universal; and it is satisfactory to know, that if taken in the largest sense there was ample accommodation in the ark. Nevertheless, universal terms in Scripture are not always to be taken mathematically, and in the vision of Peter, the phrase ????? ?? ????????? ??? ???,