The Law - The First Five Books
We should first look at the Law of Moses whose 5 books were located in and associated with the Holy of Holies. These 5 books of the Old Testament represented the basic Law for Israel. This first division of the three divisions of the Old Testament was reckoned to be the most important part of the Scriptures. And, as mentioned before, there were 5 pieces of furniture in the Holy of Holies as well as 5 books of the Law. These five items were:
- the Pot of Manna,
- Aaron’s rod,
- the Tables of Stone — both identical,
- the two Cherubim as one piece, and
- the Mercy (Covering) Seat of the Ark of the Covenant (this lid was the top part of the Ark and it represented the Ark itself).
These 5 items are mentioned in this order specifically by the apostle Paul in the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 9:4–5). Let us now look at the 5 books of the Law as they appear to relate to the 5 items in the Holy of Holies.
Firstly, the Apostle Paul placed the Manna (angel’s food) as being in the Holy of Holies. This piece of furniture best relates in a literary emphasis to the Book of Genesis. Why a literary emphasis? It is because all of the pieces of furniture in the Temple have deep symbolic meanings to them, and these meanings can only be understood through associations.
All symbols have their meanings through ritualistic or ceremonial connections, and these attributes can be explained by either audible or written explanations. Thus, the Pot of Manna came to represent something quite symbolic to the early Israelites and this is reflected in what the Book of Genesis shows as God’s relationship with mankind before the raising up of the nation of Israel at the time of the Exodus. The Book of Genesis describes God and His dealings with mankind before He revealed Himself intimately to Moses in a human way as a man speaks with a man face to face. His personal name (YHWH) was also revealed for the first time to a people (in an official way) at the time of Moses (Exodus 3:11–14). The description of Manna in the Bible gives the key to what the symbolism of the Pot of Manna is intended to be. “When the Children of Israel saw it [the Manna], they said one to another, What is it? For they knew not what it was” (Exodus 16:15, actual Hebrew).
This is precisely the way God was reckoned by humans before He revealed Himself intimately to Israel at the Exodus. God was to mankind in the whole Book of Genesis a “What is It?” He was, in a sense, “hidden” from the world up to the time of the Exodus. He was like “the Hidden Manna” (that is, the Manna that was hidden) mentioned in the Book of Revelation (2:17). This Hidden Manna was actually the true bread of life, Jesus Christ (John 6:51) who was the one hidden from the world throughout the Book of Genesis.
So the Pot of Manna stands for the period when even God Himself was known as “What is It?” (or, since God is a person, “What or Who is He?”). Though God was known in a shadowy way by mankind throughout the Book of Genesis (and in a personal sense to Abraham), He was nonetheless like the Hidden Manna to most people and most were not acquainted with His personal name (though YHWH was known to be “one of the gods”). The Pot of Manna symbolically stands for the period of the Book of Genesis.
Secondly, Paul then mentioned Aaron’s rod that budded. This best answers to the miraculous creation of the nation of Israel as God’s own people (which shows the budding of the civilization of Israel, just as Aaron’s rod also budded miraculously). This answers to the book of Exodus which reveals details about the creation of the nation of Israel.
Thirdly, Paul mentioned the Tables of Stone. These had been deposited into the hands of the priesthood (along with the rest of the Law) to teach Israel the principles of God. The two stones were identical in content (really, a single item) and the stones had words on each side (Exodus 32:15). One was a duplicate to fulfill the command that two or three witnesses were necessary to secure a proper witness in judicial matters (Deuteronomy 17:6–7). Another reason for having the two stones in association with the Book of Leviticus is because the book is designed solely to go to two divisions of a single hierarchy: the Priesthood and the Levites. This gives commands to the Priests and the Levites on how to conduct the ceremonies and teachings of God that He was presenting to Israel.
Fourthly, Paul mentioned the two Cherubim. These two images were welded together into one form. They answered to the Book of Numbers which described the journeys of Israel in the wilderness during the time of Cherubim carried the Glory of God (the Shekinah) in the shape of a pillar of fire by night and a bright cloud by day throughout the whole journeys of Israel in the wilderness.
Fifthly, Paul last mentioned the Mercy Seat (more appropriately, the Lid of Covering) located in the Holy of Holies. It was the top of the Ark of the Covenant and represented the whole of the Ark. This piece of furniture (or the space between the Cherubim) was symbolically reckoned to be the Throne of God and it answered to the Book of Deuteronomy because Deuteronomy is the last book of the Law designed to govern Israel once they became a ruling power in the Land of Canaan. It was the final book of the Law, and it gave instructions to Israel on how to conduct themselves as a people ruled by God in the Land of Promise. It also showed that God was their ruler and king.
All in all, these five books of the Law (deposited in the Holy of Holies) were to represent the supreme position of power and authority upon which the rest of the 22 books of the Old Testament hinged. That is the reason these first five books were all placed in the Holy of Holies.
“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord your God in the place which he shall choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. ... Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.’”
Deuteronomy 31:9–11, 26
They were symbolically attached to the five pieces of furniture in the Holy of Holies to show the miraculous and divine nature of these five literary documents which comprised the Law (Torah) of God.
The other books of the Holy Scriptures were placed in the archival rooms of the Sanhedrin in two other areas associated with the Temple — one library was on the Temple Mount and the other at the village of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives as I will show as we proceed.
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