||Place the poles in the rings on the sides of the ark, so that the ark can be carried with them.
Veheveta et-habadim bataba'ot al tsal'ot ha'aron laset et-ha'aron bahem.
||The poles must remain in the ark's rings and not be removed.
Betabe'ot ha'aron yihyu habadim lo yasuru mimenu.
||It is in this ark that you will place the testimony that I will give you.
Venatata el-ha'aron et ha'edut asher eten eleycha.
Make a golden cover for the ark, 2 and a half cubits long and 1 and half cubits wide.
Ve'asita chaporet zahav tahor amatayim vachetsi orkah ve'amah vachetsi rochbah.
|in the rings...|
The poles were parallel to the shorter ends of the ark, so that there were 2 and a half cubits between the two poles (Menachoth 98a,b; Rashi; Rashbam; Ramban). However, other sources indicate that the poles went along the length of the ark (Josephus 3:6:5).
Some say that this denotes the Tablets of the Ten Commandments (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; cf. 1 Kings 8:9). Others say that it also includes the entire Torah (Rashi; Abarbanel; Tzeror HaMor; Introduction to Yad). This point is debated in the Talmud (Bava Bathra 14a). The dispute is related to the dispute as to when the commandment was given (see note, this verse, 'I will give you').
|I will give you|
If the command was given while Moses was on the mountain, then 'testimonies' can denote the tablets, which were yet to be given. However, if the command was given after Moses came down with the tablets (see note on Exodus 25:1), then 'testimony' must denote the Torah that was yet to be given.
(Saadia; Rashi; Rashbam). Kapporeth in Hebrew. The Septuagint translates it as ilastryion, which denotes reconciliation, propitiation, appeasement and atonement (Kapparah; cf. Tanchuma 10; Tzeror HaMor). Philo translates it as 'throne of mercy' or 'mercy seat' (Questions and Answers 60; cf. Tanchuma, VaYakhel 7).
|2 and a half cubits...|
3' 9' x 2' 3', like the dimensions of the ark (Exodus 25:10). The Talmud states that the ark cover was one handbreadth (3 inches) thick (Sukkah 5a). It can easily be calculated that if it were solid gold, it would weigh (without the cherubs), some 2500 pounds, or 17 talents (see note on Exodus 25:39). Some sources thus state that the ark cover was considerably thinner (Tur), since we find that the ark had to be light enough to be carried easily (Baaley Tosafoth on Exodus 25:11). One source states that the ark-cover weighed one talent (150 pounds), just like the menorah (Exodus 25:39; Saadia Gaon, quoted in Ibn Ezra on Exodus 38:24). The ark cover would therefore have been around 3/16 inch thick, or, if the cherubs are taken into account, more likely around 1/8 inch thick. It may have been made like an inverted open box, so that its sides were one handbreadth thick on the outside.