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The Virgin Mary as the Ark of the Covenant

The Lord be with you

Arthur Just writes:

John McHugh notes an interesting series of parallels between Mary’s journey to the hill country of Judah and the movement of the ark of the covenant to the same local on its way to Jerusalem. In these parallels, Luke is showing that Mary, as a temporary and portable vessel housing the immanent presence of the true God, fulfills the purpose of the ark of the covenant:

The two stories open with the statement that David and Mary “arose and made a journey” (2 Sam 6:2; Lk 1:39) up into the hill country, into the land of Judah. On arrival, both the Ark and Mary are greeted with “shouts” of joy (2 Sam 6:12, 15; Lk 1:42, 44). The verb used for Elizabeth’s greeting in Lk 1:42 (anefonasen) is, in the Septuagint, used only in connection with liturgical ceremonies centered round the Ark; it is best translated as “intoned.” The Ark, on its way to Jerusalem, was taken into the house of Obededom, and became a source of blessing for his house (2 Sam 6:10-12); Mary’s entry into the house of Elizabeth is also seen as a source of blessing for the house (Lk 1:41, 43-4). David, in terror at the untouchable holiness of the Ark, cried out: “How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6:9); Elizabeth, in awe before the mother of her Lord, says, “Why should this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!” (Lk 1:43). Finally, we read that “the Ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom three months” (2 Sam6:11), and that Mary stayed with Elizabeth “about three months” (Lk 1:56).

The Magnificat is Mary’s response to this extraordinary reality she now knows about herself because of the child in her womb; she is Israel, temple, and ark.

Arthur A. Just Jr. “My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Luther’s Hermeneutic of Humility” Concordia Theological Quarterly, Volume 81, Number 1-2, January/April 2017 48-49 ( (The third article in the journal.)

Blessings in Christ

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