Exodus 25:16
And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) The testimony which I shall give thee.—The two tables of stone were called “the Testimony” (comp. Exodus 16:34), as being God’s witness against sin (Deuteronomy 31:26). As containing them, the ark was called “the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:22; Exodus 26:34; Exodus 30:6; Exodus 30:26, &c.; Numbers 4:5; Numbers 7:89; Joshua 4:16).

25:10-22 The ark was a chest, overlaid with gold, in which the two tables of the law were to be kept. These tables are called the testimony; God in them testified his will. This law was a testimony to the Israelites, to direct them in their duty, and would be a testimony against them, if they transgressed. This ark was placed in the holy of holies; the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled, and the incense burned, before it, by the high priest; and above it appeared the visible glory, which was the symbol of the Divine presence. This was a type of Christ in his sinless nature, which saw no corruption, in personal union with his Divine nature, atoning for our sins against it, by his death. The cherubim of gold looked one towards another, and both looked downward toward the ark. It denotes the angels' attendance on the Redeemer, their readiness to do his will, their presence in the assemblies of saints, and their desire to look into the mysteries of the gospel. It was covered with a covering of gold, called the mercy-seat. God is said to dwell, or sit between the cherubim, on the mercy-seat. There he would give his law, and hear supplicants, as a prince on his throne.The testimony - Literally, "something spoken again and again." The stone tables of the Ten Commandments are called the Testimony, or, the tables of the Testimony, as the ark which contained them is called the ark of the Testimony, and the tabernacle in which the ark was placed, the tabernacle of the testimony. Taking this in connection with the prohibitory form of the commandments, the name must have been understood as signifying the direct testimony of Yahweh against sin in man Deuteronomy 31:26-27.

The ark of the covenant has been most generally likened to the arks, or moveable shrines, which are represented on Egyptian monuments. The Egyptian arks were carried by poles on the shoulders, and some of them had on the cover two winged figures not unlike what we conceive the golden cherubim to have been. Thus far the similarity is striking. But there were points of great dissimilarity. Between the winged figures on the Egyptian arks there was placed the material symbol of a deity, and the arks themselves were carried about in religious processions, so as to make a show in the eyes of the people. We know not what they contained. As regards the ark of the covenant, the absence of any symbol of God was one of its great characteristics. It was never carried in a ceremonial procession: when it was moved from one place to another, it was closely packed up, concealed from the eyes even of the Levites who bore it. When the tabernacle was pitched, the ark was never exhibited, but was kept in solemn darkness. Rest, it is evident, was its appointed condition. It was occasionally moved out of its place in the holy of holies, but only so long as the nation was without a settled capital, and had something of the character of an army on the march. Not less was it distinguished from all other arks in the simple grandeur of its purpose: it was constructed to contain the plain text of the Ten Commandments written on stone in words that were intelligible to all.

16. the testimony—that is, the two tables of stone, containing the ten commandments, and called "the testimony," because by it God did testify His sovereign authority over Israel as His people, His selection of them as the guardians of His will and worship, and His displeasure in the event of their transgressing His laws; while on their part, by receiving and depositing this law in its appointed place, they testified their acknowledgment of God's right to rule over them, and their submission to the authority of His law. The superb and elaborate style of the ark that contained "the testimony" was emblematic of the great treasure it held; in other words, the incomparable value and excellence of the Word of God, while its being placed in this chest further showed the great care which God has ever taken for preserving it. To wit, the two tables of stone, wherein the decalogue was written, called the

testimony here, and Exodus 30:6 Leviticus 16:13; and more fully the tables of the testimony, Exodus 31:18 Numbers 1:50; because they were witnesses of that covenant made between God and his people, whence they are called the tables of the covenant, Deu 9:9, and the ark, the ark of the covenant, Numbers 10:33. This being as a public record both of God’s mercy promised to them, and of the duty and conditions required of them. See Exodus 16:34. And thou shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give thee. Which was the principal use of it: by the "testimony" is meant the law, written on two tables of stone; so called, because it was a testification of the mind and will of God, what he would have done or omitted; and as the Israelites had declared their approbation of it, and assent unto it, and had promised obedience to it, therefore, should they transgress it, it would be a testimony against them: now this was put into the ark, and preserved there, see Deuteronomy 10:1, which may signify that the law was in the heart of Christ, and which he undertook to fulfil, and with pleasure did it; that he is become the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to them that believe in him; and that it remains with him as a rule of walk and conversation to his people, so far as it is of a moral, holy, and spiritual nature. And thou shalt put into the ark the {f} testimony which I shall give thee.

(f) The stone tables, the rod of Aaron and manna which were a testimony of God's presence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. the testimony] i.e. the attestation, or (cf. the cognate verb in Psalm 50:7 ‘testify,’ Jeremiah 11:7 ‘protest’) affirmation, averment, viz. of God’s will, and man’s duty, expressed in the Decalogue. In Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:45, Deuteronomy 6:17; Deuteronomy 6:20), and Deuteronomic writers (as 1 Kings 2:3), and writers influenced by them (as Psalm 119:2; Psalm 119:14), the same—or almost the same—word is used, in the plural, of Divine commandments in general, as averments of God’s will; in P, in the singular, it occurs 36 times, for the Decalogue in particular, both absolutely, as here, v. 21, Exodus 16:34, Leviticus 16:13 al., and in the expressions, the ark, tables, Dwelling (RV. tabernacle: see on v. 9), tent, and veil, of the testimony (v. 22, Exodus 26:33, Exodus 31:18, Exodus 38:21, Leviticus 24:3, Numbers 1:50; Numbers 17:7, &c.). Cf. p. 193. ‘Testimony’ may also denote the law in general (Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:88).Verse 16. - The testimony which I will give thee, is undoubtedly the Decalogue, or in other words, the two tables of stone, written with the finger of God, and forming his testimony against sin. (Compare Deuteronomy 31:26, 27.) The main intention of the ark was to be a repository in which the two tables should be laid up. The Ark of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 37:1-9). - They were to make an ark (ארון) of acacia-wood, two cubits and a half long, one and a half broad, and one and a half high, and to plate it with pure gold both within and without. Round about it they were to construct a golden זר, i.e., probably a golden rim, encircling it like an ornamental wreath. They were also to cast four golden rings and fasten them to the four feet (פּעמת walking feet, feet bent as if for walking) of the ark, two on either side; and to cut four poles of acacia-wood and plate them with gold, and put them through the rings for carrying the ark. The poles were to remain in the rings, without moving from them, i.e., without being drawn out, that the bearers might not touch the ark itself (Numbers 4:15).
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