Friday, October 06, 2006

The Day of Atonement

Every now and then, while illustrating a Bible story you notice something special. Something that you probably wouldn't notice if you were just reading the story.

When illustrating the 'Day of Atonement' I noticed something different about the 'Ark of the Covenant' when comparing it to the other items of furniture in the Tabernacle. The gold rings through which the poles were passed in order to carry each item of furniture from one location to another were fixed at the 'top' corners of every item except the Ark. The rings on the Ark of the Covenant were fixed on the four 'bottom' corners!

I thought about this for a while, then I realised that when the Levites went to pick up the Ark, they had to 'bow down!'
Also, this made the Ark the only item of furniture that was carried above shoulder height and therefore was the only item to be seen by the whole of Israel as they were marching!

Most pictures (on the internet) of the 'Ark of the Covenant' show the poles in the wrong position. This is a common mistake, made also by the makers of the Harrison Ford film 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.
A common mistake made by Bible artists when illustrating the 'Day of Atonement' is showing the high priest entering within the veil wearing his ephod! When the high priest entered the 'Holy of Holies' he only wore his white linen garments. This is a hard detail to find, but it is there.
Image ©

Related posts:
The contents of the Ark
Covering the Ark


Jason said...

There were certain members of the Levites (the sons of Kohath) that were designated to carry the furnishings of the tabernacle. But these were first wrapped in the different veils of the tabernacle by the Levites. So that no one saw the Ark of the Covenant or any of the furnishings from the Holy Place.

So when you draw the Isrealites moving through the desert you would picture the ark as covered so that no one could see it. Numbers 4:1-15

Bible artist said...

Many thanks Jason. This is exactly the type of information that is helpful to Bible artists. This passage in Numbers 4 is easily missed, and yet it sets a precedent for all the verses that follow, which mention the Ark.

I for one, (on at least two occasions), have drawn the Ark of the Covenant uncovered when in transit, and nearly all of the Bible picture books I've seen make the same mistake! In fact, I've only ever seen one picture of the Ark covered when in transit, and that was covered by a made-to-measure tent, not the veil and animal skins as it should have been.

When I started to look at this subject following your comments, lot's of other interesting things cropped up too, so I decided to write a post on the subject!
If you have any more helpful comments, please send them in!
Many thanks again.