Note the ark within the ark in the center of this mosaic floor panel from Beth Shean.

Several decorative motifs in this mosaic resemble those on the carved stone ark fragment and the black ceramic sherd from Nabratein. We see a triangular pediment on the outer ark. A chain hangs from the peak of the pediment. Originally it held the eternal light which has now been destroyed. Below the round-roofed inner ark is the familiar scallop shell decoration.

The curtain hanging below the scallop shell covers the Torah scrolls and is called a paroket; its function is the same as the panelled doors of a wooden ark.

It is possible that the outside ark represents the building in which the inner ark is housed. The outside ark may thus represent the Jerusalem Temple and the inner ark the Holy of Holies, or the outside ark may represent the synagogue and the inner ark the Torah Shrine. Or perhaps the structure may combine the symbolism of both.

Flanking the “arks” are furnishings typical of the Temple: seven-branched candelabra (menorot); rams’ horns (shofars), and incense shovels.