The ark of Yahweh in the Old Testament : an exegetical-theological study
The aim of this dissertation is to unravel the meaning of the ark of Yahweh in the Old Testament primarily from the perspective of redemptive history. This central theme of the Scriptures encompasses the totality of history and forms a unity in Christ while providing a progressive realization of God's eternal counsel in time. The first chapter is an introduction which demonstrates that the variety of conclusions of earlier studies about the significance of the ark in the Old Testament is due to the application of different modem critical studies to the exegesis of Biblical texts: each study has problems. In order to overcome the flaws, there is a need to examine the biblical text acknowledging the intention of the divine author and his use of subordinates. The second chapter offers discussions on exegetical methodology. The method of interpretation, a three dimensional approach, namely philological-historical-theological approach, applied to this thesis, is in contrast to the historical-literary and the traditio-historical approaches which most prior studies about the ark have used. The redemptive-historical theological method has validity since much of the Bible itself reflects redemptive history. The third chapter attempts to exegesis all biblical texts referring to the ark. The text of Exodus demonstrates that the ark was made to serve as a comfortable assurance that Yahweh would indeed accompany the Israelites on their journey to the promised land and as a tool of God's revelation. The Numbers' text shows that Yahweh led and protected his people in the presence of the ark in the wilderness, even though it is not a throne thariot. The ark passages in Deuteronomy emphasize Yahweh's law and tell us that the ark still has the symbolic meaning of the glorious presence of Yahweh. Yahweh used the ark when he wanted to retrieve his corrupt people and redeem them with the covenantal law. In the book of Joshua we find that occupancy of the promised land as a phase of redemptive history was accomplished by the guidance of the ark using it as a vanguard, as a physical representation of divine presence. The narrative pertaining to the ark in the book of 1 Samuel explains that the ark is not permitted to be mobilized into the battle as a war-palladium. Nor is it a throne. Rather, the ark is closely linked with Yahweh's advanced redemptive work in conformity to his sovereign and eternal design for salvation, despite the Israelite's abuse. The historical event of the transporting of the ark in 2 Samuel 6 suggests Yahweh's sovereign choice of Zion and the climax of a long series of events which began when Moses promised the people 'rest' from all their enemies (Deut. 12:lO). The occasion of bringing up the ark into the temple in 1 Kings 8 explains that Yahweh's resting place was emboded by the ark's position in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place. The allusion to the stone tablets on which the law of the covenant had been engraved accentuates the importance of the observance of the law in maintenance of the people's relationship with Yahweh. In Psalm 132, the ark as the emblem of God's presence is propounded as a literary work linking the oaths of David and Yahweh and as a foundation of prosperity for the kingdom of Israel. This psalm newly accentuates the redemptive - historical significance of the transportation of the ark to Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 3:16, which obviously hints at the disappearance of the original ark, the function and meaning of the ark vanishes around the time of the new covenant era in the progressive course of redemptive history. The fourth chapter provides theological concepts of the ark. The appellations for the ark are not used as a norm to classify sources. The ark with Kapporet and the cherubim as a holy object the designed on Sinai was given by Yahweh himself has Mosaic origin. The ark was a kind of cultic article used for revelation of his attributes, but it was not to be worshipped. It is not a throne, nor footstool, nor a war-palladium but a symbol of Yahweh's presence in a sacramental and covenantal sense. Notwithstanding, the 'whole unit of the ark' has the concept of footstool, implying his sovereignty. The glorious epiphany of Yahweh occurs around the ark in a tangible and sublime manner. Thus, the significance of the ark is related to a core biblical thought: God is with us; Yahweh fulfils his promise concerning the redemption of human beings in the period of the Old Covenant. Although the ark stood at the center of Israelite culture throughout history, it was a dspensable object in the process of the redemptive historical progression of God. God wants to reside among his people in a different way in the era of the new covenant: through his Holy Spirit. In this regard, the disappearance of the ark may have been a part of God's sovereign plan.
- Theology