Through Moses the Israelites received revelation directly from God, including the Ten Commandments “inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). These two engraved stone tablets were known as the “tablets of the covenant law” (Exodus 31:18) or simply, as in this passage, “the covenant law” (Exodus 25:16,21). The Lord directed Moses to place the tablets inside the “ark of the covenant law” (Exodus 25:22), more commonly known as the “ark of the covenant” (Numbers 10:33). The ark, whose specific dimensions and design were given to Moses (see Exodus 25:10–14), was the visible sign of God’s presence and protection. The placement of the Ten Commandments inside the ark symbolized the honor that the Israelites held for God’s Word.
This honor for God’s sacred Word was also reflected in the strict way in which the Bible was passed down. Because no printing presses existed in antiquity, each manuscript had to be handwritten and copied with precision from an existing manuscript. This process was undertaken by scribes who were tediously careful to copy the words of God exactly. Later in history, between the sixth and tenth centuries A.D., a group of Jewish scholars, the Masoretes, became even more meticulous in their quality control. To make sure their new copies were error free, they would count the words on a page of the original document and compare it to the words on the newly created page. If the numbers did not match, they would destroy the new page and write it again.
These examples highlight the careful tradition in which the Scriptures have been handed down for thousands of years. Knowing how seriously the transmitters of the text took their job, we can be sure that the Bible can be trusted to accurately reflect what the original authors intended.