ונתת. הלוחות הם העדות כאילו הם כמו שטר כתובה. והם לוחות הברית והעד הנאמן ויקח ויתן את העדות אל הארון. ועוד כי לא כ' משה ספר תורה. וספר התורה שמוהו הכהנים מצד ארון ברית ה' מחוץ. ועוד כתיב אין בארון רק שני לוחות אבנים. ומחלוקת היא. יש לשאול הנה הכתוב אמר למשה ונתת אל הארון הלוחות אשר אתן אליך וכתוב ויתן אל משה ככלותו לדבר אתו והנה שברם ולא מלא מצות השם. ויש להשיב אולי בעבור זה אמרו חכמינו כי שברי הלוחות הן מונחים בארון. ואין הכתוב מכחיש דבריהם כי הראשונים והאחרונים לוחות הברית הם. ועוד נוכל להשיב כי הכתוב לא דבר רק על הלוחות השניות. ואין טענה ממלת אשר אתן אליך. כי הנה כתוב גם עליהם ויתנם ה' אלי. ועוד הנה לא מצאנו שיאמר השם למשה שיעשה הארון וישם שם הלוחות הראשונות כי השם יודע כי ישברם משה רק אמר על הלוחות שפסלם משה ועשית לך ארון עץ. וקדמונינו אמרו כי אין זה הארון שעשה בצלאל ונכון הוא. ועל דרך הפשט אינו רחוק בעיני. כי על הארון שעשה בצלאל ידבר וכן כתוב ועשו ארון עצי שטים. ואין טעם לשאול אנה היו מושמים אלה הלוחות עד שהוקם המשכן כי אין צורך להזכיר זה והוצרכתי לפירוש הזה בעבור שהזכיר ואשים את הלוחות בארון אשר עשיתי והנה אם אמרנו כי יספר המעשה כאשר היה אע"פ שלא נדע טעם. למה יזכיר זה. והנה מה נעשה בכתוב אח"כ. ויהיו שם כאשר צוני. וזה לאות כי ידבר על הלוחות ששם משה בארון הברית והם שם עד היום הזה וזה טעם ויהיו שם עד היום הזה. גם לאות ולעד כי ספר התורה לא היה בארון כי בתחלה שם הלוחות בארון. ואחר כן הכפורת עם הכרובים. והנה שכן הכבוד על הכרובים וכתוב יושב הכרובים. א"כ איך ישים משה ספר התורה בשנת הארבעים בתוך הארון אם לא יסיר הכפורת עם הכרובים מעל הארון ואין צורך לכל זה: AND THOU SHALT PUT. The tablets and the testimony121Hebrew, edut. are one and the same.122I.E. comments thus because some identify the testimony with the Torah. See Rashi, “The Testimony refers to the Torah, which is a testimony between Me and you that I have commanded you the commandments that are written in it.” They were, as it were, a marriage contract.123A marriage contract serves as a testimony that a marriage took place. They were the tablets of testimony.124That is why Scripture refers to the tablets as tablets of the covenant. See Deut. 9:9-11. It does so because the tablets recall God’s covenant with Israel. A marriage contract similarly recalls the covenant of marriage. And he took and put the testimony into the ark (Ex. 40:20) is perfect proof of this.125For it was the tablets that were placed in the ark. Furthermore, Moses did not write the scroll of the Torah.126That is, Moses had not yet written the book of the Torah. He wrote it shortly before his death. Hence the term testimony cannot refer to the Torah. The scroll of the Torah was placed by the priests next to the outer side of the ark of the covenant.127See Deut. 31:26. It is additionally written, There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone (I Kings 8:9). There is a difference of opinion concerning this.128The tablets placed in the ark. Some rabbis believe that only the second pair of tablets was placed in the ark. Others believe that the first pair of tablets, which Moses broke, was also placed in the ark. See Baba Batra 14b. Also see Rashi on Deut. 31:26. One may raise the following question. Scripture reports that God told Moses (v. 16), And thou shalt put into the ark the tables129Verse 16 has testimony in place of tablets. I.E. is paraphrasing. which I shall give thee. The Torah then tells us, And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of speaking with him…the two tables of the testimony (Ex. 31:18). Now Moses broke these tablets. Moses thus did not fulfill the command of God.130The question arises: How could Moses, the servant of God, disobey His command? It is possible to give the following answer. Perhaps this is the reason why our sages said that the broken tablets were placed in the ark.131See Baba Batra 14b. Scripture132Verse 16 seems to speak of only one set of tablets. does not contradict their words, for both the first and the second tablets were tablets of the covenant.133Thus verse 16 also refers to the first tablets. It is also possible to answer that Scripture (v. 16) speaks only about the second tablets. The statement which I shall give thee does not contradict this.134For prima facie, this appears to apply only to the first set of tablets. For Scripture also says concerning the second tablets, And the Lord gave them unto me (Deut. 10:4). Furthermore, note that we do not find that God told Moses that he should make an ark and place the first set of tablets there. For God knew that Moses would break them.135Hence God, who is omniscient, could not have been speaking of the first tablets in verse 16. It was only concerning the tablets that Moses hewed136That is, the second tablets. that God said, and make thee an ark of wood (Deut. 10:1). Now our sages said that and make thee an ark of wood does not refer to the ark made by Bezalel.137See Jerusalem Talmud Sotah 8:3; Shekalim 6:5. Also see Rashi on Deut. 10:1. The rabbis took literally and make thee an ark of wood. That is, the ark was to be made only from wood. Hence it could not refer to the ark made by Bezalel, which was overlaid with gold. Bezalel’s ark is the ark dealt with in our chapter. This is correct. However, if we follow the plain meaning of the text, then it does not appear to me to be far-fetched to interpret the text138Deut. 10:1. as referring to the ark which Bezalel constructed. Scripture similarly reads, And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood (v. 10).139We thus see that Bezalel’s ark is also referred to as a wooden ark. There is no reason to ask, where were these tablets placed before the tabernacle was constructed?140If the ark spoken of in our chapter is identified with the wooden ark spoken of in Deut. 10:1. For there is no need to mention this.141This information has no consequence. There is no reason for Scripture to explain where the tablets were kept until the tabernacle and its furniture were constructed. We can assume that the tablets were placed in a proper container in a suitable place. What forced me to offer this explanation142That the ark spoken of in Deut 10:1 is to be identified with the ark made by Bezalel. was the fact that Moses says, and [I] put the tables in the ark which I had made (Deut. 10:5). Now if we assume that Moses relates the account as it happened,143That is, that we interpret Deut. 10:1,5 as meaning that Moses himself made an ark for the tablets and that this ark is not the one that Bezalel made (Krinsky). even though we do not know the reason why he should mention this,144That Moses made a wooden ark to temporarily store the tablets. what shall we do with what follows, namely, as the Lord commanded me (Deut. 10:5).145The only ark which we find God commanding Moses to make was the ark Bezalel made. Hence the reference must be to Bezalel’s ark. This is proof that Scripture speaks of the tablets which Moses placed in the ark of the covenant.146That is, that Scripture speaks of the ark of the covenant made by Bezalel. See note 112. [Moses tells us that] these tablets are there147In the ark. until this very day (Ibid.).148That is, they were permanently placed in the ark. The reference can only be to the ark made by Bezalel. This is the meaning of and there they are unto this very day (I Kings 8:8).149That the tablets are in the very first ark in which Moses placed them. This150And [I] put the tables in the ark which I had made (Deut. 10:5). is also a sign and a witness that there was no Torah scroll in the ark, for Moses first put the tablets in the ark.151Deut. 10:5. He then placed the ark cover with the cherubim over the ark. Now God’s glory dwelled upon the cherubim. Scripture explicitly reads, Thou art enthroned upon the cherubim (Ps. 80:2). This being the case, how could Moses place a Torah scroll inside the ark in the fortieth year without first removing the ark cover with the cherubim from on top of the ark?152I.E. assumed that once the ark was closed, Moses would not open it because God’s glory was upon it. There is no need for all of this.153If we reject the opinion that a Torah was in the ark.