What is a testimony? It is the Hebrew word, ey’dut, which comes from the word eyd. The word eyd can be defined as a “witness,” one who provides evidence through testimony.
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Excavating the Bible Newsletter #005

Greetings Excavators:

Jeff A. Benner In this newsletter I will be shedding some new light on the "Ark of the Testimony." But before I do so, I thought it might help to understand the historical and etymological context of the word "testimony." But before I do so, I need to explain that the Hebrew language is oftentimes, from our perspective, vulgar. These vulgarities are always removed by the translator so as not to offend puritan readers. With that said, let's take a look at the following verse.

So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter. (Genesis 24:9, ESV)

The more correct translation for the underlined word above is "loins," a common euphemism for the sexual organs." The servant gave "oath," a testimony, while placing his hand under Abraham's "testes," which happens to be the origin of the word "testimony." He is literally giving testimony on the covenant of circumcision.

Book Project: The Honey in the Acacia

Heading: The Ark of the Testimony

There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (Exodus 25:22, ESV)

In this verse, the ark is called the “ark of the testimony” instead of the “ark of the covenant.”

What is a testimony? It is the Hebrew word, ey’dut, which comes from the word eyd. The word eyd can be defined as a “witness,” one who provides evidence through testimony.

A wife, preparing to go out, goes to her husband and asks him, “How do I look?” The husband looks, smiles, and says, “You look great!” The wife knows that he’s going to say that no matter what he thinks, so she turns to a better and more perfect witness, a mirror.

Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. (Deuteronomy 31:26, ESV)

According to this passage, the law exists to be a witness against the people. From this, we could imagine the law on the witness stand, pointing a finger at an individual and proclaiming, “You broke the law!” However, this translation is not only wrong, as will be pointed out momentarily, it is doctrinaly bias by its negative portrayal of the “law,“ which in Hebrew more means teachings” rather than “law.”

The phrase “against you,” which we will soon see is a bad translation, is not actually a word in the Hebrew language, it is a prefix and suffix put together. In Hebrew, prefixes and suffixes are commonly attached to verbs and nouns. For instance, the Hebrew word beyt means “house.” If I add the prefix “b,” which means “in” or “with,” we have the word b’beyt, which means “in a house.” Now, if I add the suffix “ka,” which means “you,” we now have the word b’beyt’ka, which means “in a house of you,” or, using English syntax, “in your house.”  

The phrase “against you,” in Hebrew, is the prefix “b” and the suffix “ka,” which becomes “b’ka” and means “in you” or “with you.” This prefix can also mean “against,” but only in the sense of being with something. As an example, if someone was leaning against a tree, you could say that he was, “b’eyts,” meaning “with a tree.” But it does not have an adversarial meaning as the above translation implies. It does not mean that the ark of the covenant is an accuser. It is simply a “witness with them.”

If you place a translucent sheet on a smooth surface, you have a mirror. The more translucent the sheet and the darker the surface, the better the reflection in the mirror. Without going into the details just yet, the construction of the ark of the covenant suggests that this could have been a mirrored box.

In Deuteronomy 31:26 we read that the book of the law was placed next to the ark. The book is the witness (eyd) and the ark is the witness’s testimony (ey’dut). If the ark was, in-fact, a mirror, then the reflection of the book on the ark would be a visual testimony of the witness. The ark is figuratively speaking God’s teachings to the people.

Jeff A. BennerJeff A. Benner
Excavating the Bible
November 16, 2023

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