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In Devarim 10:1-5 G_d was speaking with Moshe about hewing two new tablets and then in verse 3 it says, (Moshe speaking) "So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first ones and went up the mountain,..."

Approximately four months later in Shemot 37:1 it says, "Bezaleel made an ark of acacia wood."

So my question is whether there were two arks constructed: one for the tablets destroyed by Moshe and another for the replacement tablets that was constructed by Bezaleel?

To add further to this thought, in Bamidbar 10:33 the ark went before the people, but in Bamidbar 10:14-21 the ark was carried by the family of Kohath as the tabernacle was dismantled. The ark would have been carried in the ninth position in the order of tribes as the people journeyed. So could the ark that Moshe constructed be the ark that went first before the people and the ark that Bezaleel constructed be the one that was in the tabernacle? If that is true can we then say that HaShem led them with the ark of His word and they also carried His word in their midst (in their hearts)?

  • What do you mean by the last question - "HaShem led them with the ark of His word and they also carried His word in their midst (in their hearts)"? Is this part of the main question and you mean "in their hearts" to refer to the other aron, or is it a separate idea? – WAF Jun 8 '17 at 19:36
  • @WAF I was referring to the other aron, part of the main question. – B A Malinowski Jun 9 '17 at 20:04
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Rashi in his commentary to Devarim 10:1 writes that there were indeed two; the one made by Moshe was the one that the Bnei Yisrael carried with them when they went into battle.

At that time: At the end of forty days [which was the first of Elul], God was reconciled with me and said to me, “Hew for yourself [two tablets],” and afterwards, “make for yourself a [wooden] ark.” I, however (see verse 3), made the ark first (Tanchuma 10), because [I considered that] when I would come with the tablets in my hand, where would I put them? This was not the ark that Bezalel made, because the Israelites did not occupy themselves with the Mishkan until after Yom Kippur [which was forty days later], for when Moses descended the mountain, he commanded them regarding the construction of the Mishkan . [Then] Bezalel made the Mishkan first, and only afterwards the ark and the [other] furnishings (Ber. 55a). It follows, therefore, that this was another ark, and that was the one that went out with them to battle, but the one Bezalel made did not go out to battle except in the days of Eli, and they were punished for it, and it [the ark] was captured [by the Philistines]. — [Yerushalmi Shekalim 6:1]

Rashi also writes concerning Bamidbar 10:33 that this was also the one that went before the Bnei Yisrael when they traveled.

The Ark of the Lord’s covenant traveled three days ahead of them: This was the Ark that accompanied them in battle. The broken pieces of the [first set of] Tablets lay in them. It preceded them by three days of travel to prepare for them a place to encamp. - [from Sifrei]

Thus, according to the opinion of Rashi there were two Arks.

(Translation of Rashi al haTorah via Chabad.org)

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