Exodus 40:20
And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:
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(20) He took and put the testimony into the ark.—By “the testimony” we must understand the two tables of stone, written with the finger of God, which Moses had brought down with him from the top of Sinai on his last visit (Exodus 34:29). On the use of the word “testimony” in this sense, see Note to Exodus 25:16. It is not proved by this passage that the Ark held nothing but “the testimony.”

Set the staves on the ark—i.e., placed them in the rings, ready for use. (See Exodus 25:14.)

40:16-33 When the tabernacle and the furniture of it were prepared, they did not put off rearing it till they came to Canaan; but, in obedience to the will of God, they set it up in the midst of their camp. Those who are unsettled in the world, must not think that this will excuse want of religion; as if it were enough to begin to serve God when they begin to be settled in the world. No; a tabernacle for God is very needful, even in a wilderness, especially as we may be in another world before we come to fix in this. And we may justly fear lest we should deceive ourselves with a form of godliness. The thought that so few entered Canaan, should warn young persons especially, not to put off the care of their souls.The testimony - i. e. the tables of stone with the Ten Commandments engraved on them Exodus 25:16; Exodus 31:18. Nothing else is said to have been put into the ark. These were found there by themselves in the time of Solomon 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10. The pot of manna was "laid up before the testimony" Exodus 16:34; Aaron's rod was also placed "before the testimony" Numbers 17:10; and the book of the law was put at "the side of the ark" Deuteronomy 31:26. The expression "before the testimony" appears to mean the space immediately in front of the ark. Most interpreters hold that the pot of manna and Aaron's rod were at first placed between the ark and the veil, and afterward within the ark Hebrews 9:4. It is very probable that the pot and the rod had been put into the ark before it was taken by the Philistines, but that they were not sent back with the ark and the tables. 1 Samuel 4:11; 1 Samuel 6:11. 16. Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him—On his part, the same scrupulous fidelity was shown in conforming to the "pattern" in the disposition of the furniture, as had been displayed by the workmen in the erection of the edifice. No text from Poole on this verse.

And he took and put the testimony into the ark,.... The ten commands, called the "testimony", because they testified and declared what was the will of God with respect to things to be done, or not done. The Targum of Jonathan says, he put the broken pieces of the tables into it; but what became of them, or were done with them, we nowhere read; and it does not appear that any other, but those that Moses hewed by the order of God, were put into the ark; see Deuteronomy 10:1.

and set the staves on the ark; that it might be ready to be carried whenever a remove was necessary:

and put the mercy seat above upon the ark; together with the cherubim.

And he took and put the {f} testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:

(f) That is, the tables of the law; Ex 31:18,34:29.

20. See Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21 b; Exodus 25:14-15; Exodus 25:21 a. For the ‘testimony’ (i.e. the tables of stone with the Decalogue), see on Exodus 25:16.

Verse 20. - The testimony - i.e., the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 31:18). Set the staves on the ark. "Put the staves," that is, "into the rings, and left them there" (Exodus 25:14). Put the mercy seat above upon the ark. See Exodus 25:21. Exodus 40:20Arrangement of the ark. "He took and put the testimony into the ark." העדוּת does not mean "the revelation, so far as it existed already, viz., with regard to the erection of the sanctuary and institution of the priesthood (ch. 25-31), and so forth," as Knobel arbitrarily supposes, but "the testimony," i.e., the decalogue written upon the two tables of stone, or the tables of the covenant with the ten words; "the testimony," therefore, is an abbreviated expression for "the tables of testimony" (Exodus 31:18, see at Exodus 25:16). After the ark had been brought into the dwelling, he "hung the curtain" (vail, see at Exodus 26:31; lit., placed it upon the hooks of the pillars), "and so covered over the ark of the testimony," since the ark, when placed in the back part of the dwelling, was covered or concealed from persons entering the dwelling or the holy place.
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