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There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

8:9 two tables of stone. When the tabernacle was first built in the wilderness, and the ark installed therein, the ark also contained “the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded” (Hebrews 9:4). These had at some unknown time been removed, possibly because of their ephemeral testimony which was no longer needed. The two tablets with God’s law—the very essence of His covenant with Israel—were retained permanently, even during the time when the ark was away from the tabernacle and in the hands of the Philistines. The ark was originally called “the ark of the testimony” (e.g., Exodus 25:22) but at least by the time of Joshua came to be known only as the Ark of the Covenant. Evidently when Judah was taken into exile in Babylon the ark was carried into heaven, where it remains today (Revelation 11:19).

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