2 Chronicles 5 – “The Ark is Transferred to the Temple”

Trumpet_BlastHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The ark is transferred to the temple with great joy. The celebration is cut short when God’s cloud envelopes the entire the temple.

II. Photo
The people celebrate: “The trumpeters and the singers joined in unison to praise and extol the LORD…” (v. 13)

III. Important Verses
v. 1: When all the work that King Solomon undertook for the House of the LORD was completed, Solomon brought the things that his father David had consecrated — the silver, the gold, and the utensils — and deposited them in the treasury of the House of God.
v. 5: They brought up the Ark and the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that were in the Tent — the Levite priests brought them up.
v. 6: Meanwhile, King Solomon and the whole community of Israel, who had gathered to him before the Ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen in such abundance that they could not be numbered or counted.
v. 10: There was nothing inside the Ark but the two tablets that Moses placed [there] at Horeb, when the LORD made [a Covenant] with the Israelites after their departure from Egypt.
vv. 13-14: The trumpeters and the singers joined in unison to praise and extol the LORD; and as the sound of the trumpets, cymbals, and other musical instruments, and the praise of the LORD, “For He is good, for His steadfast love is eternal,” grew louder, the House, the House of the LORD, was filled with a cloud. The priests could not stay and perform the service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the House of God.

IV. Outline
1. David’s vessels
2-10. The ark is transferred
11-13a. Jubilation
13b-14. God’s cloud fills the temple

V. Comment

Chapter 5 recounts the joyous transfer of the ark to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Verses 7-8 describe how the ark was positioned beneath the wings of the “cherubim”: “The priests brought the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant to its place in the inner Sanctuary of the House, in the Holy of Holies, beneath the wings of the cherubim; for the cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the Ark so that the cherubim covered the Ark and its poles from above.”

An Assyrian cherub, housed in the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
An Assyrian cherub, housed in the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

What were the cherubim and what did they look like? Myers writes: “The many variations of cherubim represented in the Bible—examples with one or more faces; with human, leonine, bovine, or aquiline faces; with two or four legs—correspond to various forms of composite beasts depicted in [ancient Near Eastern] art, particularly the art of Assyria… In ancient Israel and its contemporary world, cherubim were characterized by mobility, since they all had wings. By virtue of their combining features of different creatures or having more of such features than real animals or persons, they were unnatural. These characteristics made them apt symbols for divine presence, since deities moved where humans could not and were something other than either animals or humans. The cherubim of the Bible are hardly the round-faced infant cherubim known in Western art.”  (“Cherubim,” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, pp. 899-900) Besides for depictions of winged figures (and palm trees, see Ezek 41:18) in Assyrian temples, it is interesting to note that the hebrew word keruvim “cherubim” is nearly identical to the Akkadian word that describes these figures, kuribu.

Scholars point out that both two and three-dimensional cherubim are described in the Bible. An example of the two-dimensional type was seen in chapter 3: “[Solomon] overlaid the House with gold — the beams, the thresholds, its walls and doors; he carved cherubim on the walls” (2 Chron 3:7). The two-dimensional cherubim were also woven into fabric, as seen in Ex 26:1: “As for the tabernacle, make it of ten strips of cloth; make these of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with a design of cherubim worked into them.” Aside from our chapter and the Book of Kings, the three-dimensional cherubim can be found in the book of Exodus: “He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work, at the two ends of the cover: one cherub at one end and the other cherub at the other end; he made the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at its two ends. The cherubim had their wings spread out above, shielding the cover with their wings. They faced each other; the faces of the cherubim were turned toward the cover.” (Ex 37:7-9)

What did the cherubim represent? Myers writes: “The cherubim apparently constituted a resting place, or throne, for God’s invisible presence or glory (e.g., 2 Kgs 19:15 = Isa 32:16; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2). As part of the cultic furniture for God in the divine dwelling place on earth (see Haran 1978: 254–59), these cherubim are to be related to figures attested in several biblical texts which envisage God riding upon living composite beasts (e.g., Ps 18:10 = 2 Sam 22:11) or in which God’s glory rests upon the creatures (Ezekiel 10). Finally, the close connection between God and cherubim is present in their appearance as guardians of the garden of Eden (Gen 3:24).” (ibid.)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
De Vries, Simon J. “1 and 2 Chronicles,” The Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989).
Myers, Carol. “Cherubim,” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, pp. 899-900.
Photo #1 taken from http://www.markmallett.com/blog/wp-images/Trumpet_Blast.jpg

Photo #2 taken from http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/higpix/cherubivory.jpg