Was the law of Moses placed inside or outside the Ark of the covenant?


In regard to the book of the law or Moses’ law (Deuteronomy 29:21; 30:10) , the Lord commanded Moses saying, “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you” (Deut. 31:26).

Jewish commentators are in disagreement in their views regarding the above verse. Some claim that the written scroll that contained Moses’ Law was placed inside the ark with the two tables of stone (Ten Commandments), others, say that it was put outside the Ark in a compartment formed at the right side held by a bulging board.

But the clear statement in the Scripture that says, “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb” according to 2 Chron. 5:10 and also 1 Kings 8:9, clearly affirms that Moses’ law was placed outside the Ark of the Covenant. The Revised Standard version confirms this view in its translation that says, “by the side of the ark” (Deut. 31:26).

The Bible shows the difference between Moses’ law and God’s law:

Moses’ law was the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament. It regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, feasts, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed and ended at the cross. This law was added “till the seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). The rituals and sacrifices of Moses’ law pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice. When He died, this law came to an end.

God’s law has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, “Where no law is, there is no transgression [or sin]” Romans 4:15. And according to the Bible, “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).


  • Called “the law of Moses” (Luke 2:22).
  • Called “law … contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15).
  • Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12).
  • Placed outside the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26).
  • Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15).
  • Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19).
  • Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14).
  • Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16).
  • Carnal (Hebrews 7:16).


  • Called “the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 5:24).
  • Called Ten Commandments-”the royal law” (James 2:8).
  • Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).
  • Placed inside the ark (Exodus 40:20).
  • Will stand forever (Luke 16:17).
  • Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20).
  • Not grievous (1 John 5:3).
  • Judges all people (James 2:10-12).
  • Spiritual (Romans 7:14).
  • Perfect (Psalms 19:7).

Thus, we can conclude that the Ten Commandments that were written upon the two tables of stone were of such an important nature as to place them in a separate and distinct class by themselves- inside the Ark while Moses’ law was outside the Ark.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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