In this chapter, God gives Moses instructions for building a couch, coffee table, and lampstand, and I wish that were a joke. Apparently, God is now an interior decorator.

The good news is that at least this time participation in God’s latest career foray is voluntary. He needs materials to redecorate the living room, but asks for help only from “every man whose heart makes him willing” (Exod. 25:2). I’m sure there’s a gay decorator joke in there somewhere, but I’m too classy to make it.

This’ll be a super short post because this chapter is literally just a list of details and I would never put you through having to read all of that. But let’s just say that the couch has under-seat storage space for the tablets containing the ordinances we covered in Exodus 20-23, and looks something like this:

Ark of the Convenant

There are some problems with the design, however. For example, God would like his couch to have “two cherubim of gold” (Exod. 25:18). Unfortunately, this will require outsourcing some of the detail work since the Hebrews are forbidden from making any “graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exod. 20:4).

As I read the description of the cherubim (Exod. 25:20), I thought of Isis and her protective wings. I’ve already talked about how Egyptian-y the name Moses is, so I thought it was interesting to see more possibly Egyptian details cropping up in this story. See for yourself – coincidence?

Ark of the Covenant

Now, The Bible Slam points out that the Ark (in addition to being impractically heavy for a currently nomadic people), really does seem to be Egyptian in its design. We already know for Exodus 11 that God instructed the Hebrews to steal from the Egyptians, so Bible Slam wonders if all this dwelling on the instructions and construction of the Ark might not be a bit of “doth protest too much” to convince people that the Hebrews really really did build it for themselves and totally didn’t would never steal it from the Egyptians.

According to Collins, portable tent-shrines were A Thing in the Semitic world, so there may well have been an Ark, or at least many things like it. However, this one seems “too elaborate to have been transported in the wilderness” and may either be an idealised construction from a priest with too much time on his hands and not enough access to porn or a description of a later, sedentary shrine, “possibly at Shiloh, where the tabernacle is set up in Josh 18:1” (Hebrew Bible, p.74-5).

In closing, God reminds Moses to make sure that he makes the couch, coffee table, and lampstand “after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain” (Exod. 25:40). This, according to my Study Bible, is a reference to the belief that “earthly temples and their cultic equipment were made according to the pattern or prototype of heavenly models” (p.100). We see this again in Plato’s theory of forms, where all earthly stuff is patterned after an ideal archetypal version of itself.

So, since we’re about to start actually building the Ark, I’m sure you’re wondering what eventually happened to it – where is the Ark? There are many theories, of course, but I personally subscribe to the Hangar 51 theory.