The ark was made of shittim wood, overlaid, within and without, with pure gold. It was about three feet nine inches long, two feet three inches wide, and of the same extent in depth. It had on the side two rings of gold, through which, when necessary, it was borne by the Levites. Its covering was of pure gold, over which were placed two figures called cherubim, with expanded wings. The covering of the ark was called kaphieret, from kaphar, "to forgive sin," and hence its English name of "mercy seat," as being the place where the intercession for sin was made.
The researches of archaeologists in the last few years have thrown much light on the Egyptian Mysteries. Among the ceremonies of that ancient people was one called the Procession of Shrines, which is mentioned in the Rosetta stone, and depicted on the temple walls. One of these shrines was an ark which was carried in procession by the priests, who supported it on their shoulders by staves passing through metal rings. It was thus brought into the Temple and deposited on a stand or altar, that the ceremonies prescribed in the ritual might be performed before it. The contents of these arks were various, but always of a mystical character. Sometimes the ark would contain symbols of Life and Stability; sometimes the sacred beetle, the symbol of the Sun; and there was always a representation of two figures of the goddess Theme or Truth and Justice, which overshadowed the ark with their wings. These coincidences of the Egyptian and Hebrew arks must have been more than accidental.