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ark of the covenant

noun
1.
ark (def 2).

ark

[ahrk] /ɑrk/
noun
1.
(sometimes initial capital letter). Also called Noah's Ark. the large boat built by Noah in which he saved himself, his family, and a pair of every kind of creature during the Flood. Gen. 6–9.
2.
Also called ark of the covenant. a chest or box containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, carried by the Israelites in their wanderings in the desert after the Exodus: the most sacred object of the tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem, where it was kept in the holy of holies.
3.
a place of protection or security; refuge; asylum.
4.
(initial capital letter) Judaism. Holy Ark.
5.
a flatboat formerly used on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
6.
Nautical, life car.
7.
Archaic. a chest or box.
Origin
850
before 850; Middle English ark(e), erke, Old English arc, earc(e) (compare Old Frisian erke, arke, Dutch ark, Old High German, Gothic arka, Old Norse ǫrk) < Latin arca chest, coffer, derivative of arcēre to safeguard, cognate with Hittite h̬ark- hold, possess
Can be confused
arc, ark.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for ark of covenant

ark

/ɑːk/
noun
1.
the vessel that Noah built and in which he saved himself, his family, and a number of animals and birds during the Flood (Genesis 6–9)
2.
(informal) out of the ark, very old; out of date
3.
a place or thing offering shelter or protection
4.
(dialect) a chest, box, or coffer
Word Origin
Old English arc, from Latin arca box, chest

Ark

/ɑːk/
noun (Judaism)
1.
Also called Holy Ark. the cupboard at the front of a synagogue, usually in the eastern wall, in which the Torah scrolls are kept
2.
Also called Ark of the Covenant. the most sacred symbol of God's presence among the Hebrew people, carried in their journey from Sinai to the Promised Land (Canaan) and eventually enshrined in the holy of holies of the Temple in Jerusalem
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ark of covenant

ark

n.

Old English earc, mainly meaning Noah's but also the Ark of the Covenant, from Latin arca "large box, chest" (see arcane). Also borrowed in Old High German (arahha, Modern German Arche). From the Noachian sense comes extended meaning "place of refuge" (17c.). As the name of a type of ship or boat, from late 15c. In 19c. U.S., especially a large, flat-bottomed river boat to move produce, livestock, etc. to market.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ark of covenant in the Bible

Noah's ark, a building of gopher-wood, and covered with pitch, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high (Gen. 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 (Gen. 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 (Gen. 7:13; 2 Pet. 2:5), and of all "clean" animals seven pairs, and of "unclean" one pair, and of birds seven pairs of each sort (Gen. 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 (Gen. 50:26; 2 Kings 12:9, 10). It is distinguished from all others by such titles as the "ark of God" (1 Sam. 3:3), "ark of the covenant" (Josh. 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 (Num. 7:9; 10:21; 4:5,19, 20; 1 Kings 8:3, 6). Over the ark, at the two extremities, were two cherubim, with their faces turned toward each other (Lev. 16:2; Num. 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 (1 Kings 8:8). The two tables of stone which constituted the "testimony" or evidence of God's covenant with the people (Deut. 31:26), the "pot of manna" (Ex. 16:33), and "Aaron's rod that budded" (Num. 17:10), were laid up in the ark (Heb. 9:4). (See TABERNACLE ØT0003559) The ark and the sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (Lam. 2:1). During the journeys of the Israelites the ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Num. 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 (Josh. 3:15, 16; 4:7, 10, 11, 17, 18). It was borne in the procession round Jericho (Josh. 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 (1 Sam. 4:3-11), who sent it back after retaining it seven months (1 Sam. 5:7, 8). It remained then at Kirjath-jearim (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 (2 Sam. 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 (12-19). It was afterwards deposited by Solomon in the temple (1 Kings 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.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for ark of covenant

ark

("holy ark"), in Jewish synagogues, an ornate cabinet that enshrines the sacred Torah scrolls used for public worship. Because it symbolizes the Holy of Holies of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, it is the holiest place in the synagogue and the focal point of prayer. The ark is reached by steps and is commonly placed so that the worshiper facing it also "faces Jerusalem." When the scrolls are removed for religious services, the congregation stands, and a solemn ceremony accompanies the opening and closing of the ark doors.

Learn more about ark with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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