Deuteronomy 10:1–3—When was the Ark made?

Problem: According to many other verses, the ark was made before the 40 years wandering (Ex. 25:10; 35:12; 37:1). But according to this passage Moses made the ark of the covenant after the 40 years wandering.

Solution: Some believe the first ark may have been a temporary one and the later one more permanent (cf. Ex. 33:8). Some Jewish commentators believe there were two arks, one to go to war and the other to stay in the tabernacle. Other scholars believe Moses may have ordered the construction of the ark before he went up into Mt. Sinai by way of Bezaleel. Still others believe Moses may be combining here (in Deut. 10:1–3) things that were closely related in concept but separated in time. Thus, the phrase “make yourself an ark of [acacia] wood” would refer to the command given earlier (Ex. 25:10) and the command to hew two new tables of stone after Moses had seen the glory of God (Ex. 33).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.