Ark of the Covenant

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No ancient relic causes so much controversy as the Ark of the Covenant. The subject of Spielberg’s ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, featuring the intrepid Indiana Jones, the film does not exaggerate the passions the mystery of its location and power entails.

Believed to have been constructed from acacia wood by Moses on Mount Sinai about 1250BC, the wooden chest is overlain with solid gold on both the inside and outside. 3ft 9in long and 2ft 3in wide and high, it has a lid of solid gold with a pair of cherubim. Gold rings attached to the Ark’s sides allow poles to pass through to be carried.

WHY AN ARK?

Built according to Divine instructions, the Ark carried the two tablets upon which God scribed the Ten Commandments. Symbolic of the covenant God made between Himself and the people of Israel, it was said to be the focus of God’s presence.
Carried by Levites, members of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, it always went ahead of the Israelites as they wandered through the desert, even going ahead of their armies as they waged war.

When camped, the Ark was placed at the centre of a temporary sanctuary known as the Tabernacle. This centre became known as the Holy of Holies. Once the Promised Land was conquered and the Temple constructed at Jerusalem, the Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies of the temple.

In this respect we can see the Ark as the central symbol of faith. Some mystical Jews have even drawn an analogy of the Ark, with its two tablets inside, with the brain and its two cerebral hemispheres. The Ark remained the centre of their religion until after the Exile to Babylon in the 6th century BC.

OBJECT OF MYSTERY

Today there are two central mysteries concerning the Ark of the Covenant – namely, where is it, and what strange powers did it have? The former enigma comes from its remarkable history.

According to the Old Testament, some time around 1000BC the Ark was captured by the Philistines. For reasons we will narrate later, they eventually let it go, sending it away strapped to a cart pulled by two cows.

Reclaimed by the Israelites, they took it to Kiriath¬ Jearim, with King David eventually taking it to Jerusalem. Here, in 955BC, King Solomon placed it in the Holy of Holies of the first Temple.

At one stage one tradition speaks of it being stolen by Menelik, son of Solomon and Sheba and taken to Axum in Ethiopia. Another tradition speaks of it being taken by the prophet Jeremiah to an unknown cave prior to the Babylonian destruction of the Temple in 587BC.
What exactly happened is not known – it could have been simply destroyed – but the Ark was never seen again.

WHERE IS IT?

There are several theories concerning the location of the Ark. In 1952 a scroll known as the Copper Scroll was found near the caves at Qumran where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The scroll purportedly contains a list of sacred items that used to reside in Herod the Great’s second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.

Among the listed items, it is thought, is the Ark. This discovery eventually fascinated American archaeologist Vendyl Jones. As director of the Institute for Judaic Christian Rsearch in Texas, Jones, who claims to be the real Indiana Jones, led an expedition to the area in March 1992. Claiming to have unearthed incense from the Temple, in May the Israeli Antiquities Authority suddenly stopped the excavation without explanation.

Could the Ark be buried near Qumran? Graham Hancock thinks not. According to him, the Ark remained in the Temple at Jerusalem until about 650BC.

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CHURCH OF ST MARY

At this time Judea was ruled by a pagan king called Manasseh. Fearing he would destroy the Ark, the priests clandestinely removed it to a new temple in Elephantine in Egypt. In 410BC this temple was destroyed.

Rescued, Hancock claims the Ark was taken to Lake Tana in Ethiopia, and in 350AD to Axum. Being placed in a specially constructed Church of St Mary of Zion, except for minor removals during medieval times, it has remained there ever since.

To this day the church is guarded by a single monk known as the guardian of the Ark, spending his entire lifetime protecting the relic and allowing no one inside.

Whether the real Ark is really in the church, no one knows, but certainly a replica of the Ark exists here, and is carried in procession once a year during the feast of Timkat. However, apart from the mystery of its location, just as intriguing are powers that are said to be invested in the Ark.

REMARKABLE POWERS

The Old Testament speaks clearly of the Divine power of the Ark. When captured by the Philistines, they quickly got rid of it when they came down with a terrifying plague which caused cancerous tumours.

At Jericho the Ark was marched around the walls, and it is said to have been its power that caused the walls to fall down. Others who inadvertently touched it were instantly killed, and only a chosen few could manage to carry it on its poles, well over a hundred yards ahead of the people. Moses himself is said to have had a face that shined, and usually wore a cowl, after building the Ark.

Due to such powers, many theories have been offered as to what the Ark really was. Some even believe it was actually a small nuclear reactor, hence the cancerous boils, Moses’s ‘radiation effects’ and its seemingly miraculous power.

POWERS EXPLAINED?

Of course, easy answers can be placed on the powers of the Ark. It is well accepted that the walls of Jericho fell due to earthquake activity. Similarly, belief in its power was all that was needed for the Philistines to imagine disaster, possibly even causing some form of hysterically induced poltergeist activity.

As for the dangers of boils from being too close to the Ark, suggestion can easily cause illness in such a superstitious culture. Curses are known to happen in many primitive societies, based on the absolute belief that a curse can work.

But all this is irrelevant to the real power of the Ark. Thought of as the throne for the earthly power of an invisible God, it represented the very centre of faith to the people who birthed the idea of monotheism.

In this, sense, whether real or imagined, the Ark remains an icon of world-changing proportions. And there is no greater power than this.

© Anthony North, May 2007

4 thoughts on “Ark of the Covenant

    Most Popular Posts - July « Templar Globe said:
    August 1, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    […] 10. (-) Ark of the Covenant […]

    Steven Forde said:
    November 1, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Fantastic information I am really interested in the Ark of the Convenant and have read many web sites concerning the Ark of the Convenant. Also as a lecturer (oral story teller) with the Orange Order and the Royal Arch Purple Chapter I tell the biblical story I learnt to others who join our institutions these originated when the Orange Order was formed in 1795 previously they were Orange Society’s in England in 1688. However I believe the lectures used by myself are lectures which where given to us for want of a better expression by the Mason lecturers who may in turn have got their lectures from the Knights Templars who are also beleive to be custodians of the secerts of the Ark of the Convenant. If you ever have any more information please forward me on the web address and link or indeed the information. As I am interested in the dead sea scrolls and the copper sea scroll. Being an electrician I understand the conductive properties of copper and static electricty and can’t help but think there is a lot we do not fully under stand.
    Regards Steven

    Kevin Quinn (@kquinn856) said:
    February 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Christ Crucifixion site and the Ark of the Covenant found burred under a trash pile in Jerusalem.
    http://arkofthecovenant2.blogspot.com/

    Joseph Myer said:
    April 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Greetings,

    I’m a retired Englisman now residing in Spain.

    For the past 18 years I have been searching for the Ark of the Covenant which according to my research through many paranormal events I discovered a cave in Egypts desert where either THE ark or an ancient copy could be unearted.

    During my search I made many discoveries relating to Atlantis ( or an ancient civilization that had advanced technology ). I also found a location for a second sphinx on the Giza Plateau.

    If any of the above is interesting to you then perhaps I can have your phone number to discuss it.

    Regards, Gerry in Spain

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