A principal purpose here is to examine the legendary mystery of the lost Ark of the Covenant and determine its fate from scripture. The true fate of the Ark of the Covenant is revealed herein. There has been a longstanding reason why the Ark was lost and the hand of God purposefully concealed the details of its disappearance until the Last Days. There are several reasons for this in that other very important mysteries set to be concealed until just before the Apocalypse can be resolved by determining the true fate of the Ark of the Covenant. Some of these other mysteries include but are not limited to the true nature and form of the infamous Abomination of Desolation, a heretofore thought to be fictional Temple of Doom, the identity of the Antichrist and the Great Mystery.
The supremely important Great Mystery describes many details of the true nature of God. The mystery of the lost Ark and the Great Mystery are in many ways separate, but in many respects inseparable. In addition, this book investigates the important fate of several important items that were once housed in the Ark of the Covenant including the pot of manna and Aaron's staff that budded. Moreover, seemingly contradictory passages of scripture are reduced to their true meanings thereby putting to rest many longstanding concerns about errors in The Bible.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to His temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in, behold, he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap; 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver; and there shall be they that shall offer unto the Lord offerings in righteousness. 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers; and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Malachi 3:22 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 23 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 24 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (JPS) (Malachi 4:4-6 in some translations)
Isaiah 48:3 I have declared the former things from of old; yea, they went forth out of My mouth, and I announced them; suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; 5 Therefore I have declared it to thee from of old; before it came to pass I announced it to thee; lest thou shouldest say: 'Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.' 6 Thou hast heard, see, all this; and ye, will ye not declare it? I have announced unto thee new things from this time, even hidden things, which thou hast not known. 7 They are created now, and not from of old, and before this day thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say: 'Behold, I knew them.' (JPS)
One might wonder how it is plausible to contend that the fate of the Ark of the Covenant is recorded in scripture and yet it has been indecipherable despite the fact that countless myriads of students of scripture have poured over all Bible texts for eons. The reason is because it was lost until the End of Days.
Apart from the fact that God directly concealed the things set forth in this book until the End of Days, another factor at work in concealing them is that many of the keys to deciphering them are included in portions of scripture that many find tedious reading. Some of the most revealing details are included as ancillary records in lengthy genealogies that few people find interesting.
Isaiah 6:9 And He said: 'Go, and tell this people: hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, and understanding with their heart, return, and be healed.' (JPS)
An additional element that has kept the things explained in this book mysteries for thousands of years is that many pieces of the puzzles are dispersed in many different books of the Bible with a tidbit here and another there. It is very difficult and time consuming to glean the bits-and-pieces of information from scripture and then assemble them into meaningful information. Many of the morsels are contained in books that were split up such as Samuel, Kings and Chronicles - thus introducing an additional level of confusion. It is notable that obscure, minute and seemingly insignificant details at times tell great stories. Due to all of the foregoing factors, searchable text and search engines have been indispensable in research for this book.
While many have searched for the Ark, its discovery did not come about through any perilous expedition of the Author, but by searching the scriptures through the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit through Divine inspiration and revelation. This generally consisted of small connections of separate things. As answers came along so did more-and-more questions with corresponding solutions.
Isaiah 65:1 I gave access to them that asked not for Me, I was at hand to them that sought Me not; I said: 'Behold Me, behold Me', unto a nation that was not called by My name. (JPS)
The discovery of the Ark happened shortly after the author watched a rerun of the television series Encounters of the Unexplained. Some days later, the author was jolted awake one morning with something telling him that the Ark was in Ethiopia. This connected some information from something that the author had read a few days before seeing the TV show with information presented therein. It is not believed that he had been dreaming about these things, but nevertheless he was conspicuously jolted awake with this revelation and heavily inspired - perhaps even compelled - to begin researching the Ark in scripture.
Researching the details of the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant from scripture proved to be extremely difficult, and frankly, required a great deal of the Lord's direct leadership to even to begin to solve the mysteries. It would have been impossible for the author to solve these puzzles on his own without the direct guidance of the Lord, mostly because he was not even looking for it. In retrospect, it is without any doubt that this was a result of the Author's earlier encounters with the Lord's angels Gabriel and Michael as well as Adonai Himself. As has oft been said, inspiration requires perspiration to produce results and this task actually required the development of some refined thinking skills. It is a rare instance where one must think so hard as to consume so much energy that they become physically tired, but that was a frequent occurrence in the early stages of the discoveries included in this book.
In ancient times, an oppressed people labored tirelessly in the hot Egyptian sun for hundreds of years building the great kingdom of Egypt. These people had many special attributes and maintained a separate identity as a nation while living in Egypt. The most marked characteristic of this people was that the God of all heaven and earth considered them His own people and therefore He generated the most dramatic of circumstances so that the Pharaoh of Egypt freed them. This people comprised the nation of Israel.
The general time-period of the Exodus is believed to be somewhere between 1400-1500 BC. The majority of scholars hold this view and the most confident of the group maintain that it occurred between 1440 and 1446 BC. Scripture supports that position, but there are diverging views about the exact date of the Exodus that vary by several hundred years.
The events leading up to the Exodus are extremely interesting. An account of them can be found in the Bible beginning at Exodus 5:22 continuing to Exodus 14:31. In short, through various perils, God raised up a leader named Moses for the Israelites. When the time came for the people to be freed, Moses relinquished the possibility of being an Egyptian prince and approached Pharaoh with the demand to let the people go. Pharaoh was not easily convinced to forfeit the primary source of cheap labor, however, and in order to persuade him the Lord had Moses and his brother Aaron perform several miraculous signs and wonders. Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate many of these feats, however, so at first Pharaoh was unresponsive to freeing the Israelites.
God persisted with His plan to take His people out of Egypt and continued to try to persuade Pharaoh with increasingly dramatic events. Aaron acted as spokesman for his brother Moses when the pair appeared before Pharaoh. The various plagues included those of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally, the plague of the firstborn. In the plague of the firstborn, the Angel of Death visited Egypt killing the firstborn son of every household except those of the Israelites that had placed blood around the doorposts of their homes. If the angel found blood around the doorposts of a house, he passed over it without visiting it with death. This tragedy caused Pharaoh to relent and free the Israelites. It is commemorated annually on the Holy Day of Passover known in Hebrew as Pesah.
After the Angel of Death visited the Egyptians, the Egyptian people were extremely anxious to see the Israelites leave Egypt and provided plenty of provisions and other items to speed them along the way. The narrative states that the Israelites carried off a great amount of wealth that the Egyptians were understandably pleased to part with just to see them go. The Israelites fled along a meandering route to the south (Exodus 13:17 - 14:3) thus giving the appearance of a lack of direction and guidance (Exodus 14:3). After the plague of the firstborn, Pharaoh was also anxious to see the Israelites leave; however, he soon changed his mind about relinquishing such a great labor force. Therefore, Pharaoh mounted a last-ditch attempt to retain them and pursued them with his full force of infantrymen and charioteers. Just as it seemed certain that Pharaoh would overtake and capture the Israelites, the Lord parted the waters of the Red Sea with a drying east wind thereby leaving a dry-land channel across the bottom of the sea. Having a slight lead in their pre-dawn escape, the Israelites advanced through the trough to the other side. Pharaoh then pursued the Israelites at dawn through the trench in force, but alas, after all of the Israelites attained dry land on the other side of the sea, the belligerent Egyptians were trapped in the collapsing breach and drowned.
Exodus 14:19 And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them; 20 and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness here, yet gave it light by night there; and the one came not near the other all the night. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 14:23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And it came to pass in the morning watch, that the Lord looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, and made them to drive heavily; so that the Egyptians said: 'Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.' (JPS)
Exodus 14:26 And the Lord said unto Moses: 'Stretch out thy hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.' 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, even all the host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea; there remained not so much as one of them. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 14:29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 14:30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
The Waters are Divided
James Jacques Joseph Tissot.
After crossing the Red Sea the Israelites set out to claim the land of Canaan because God directed them to do so and it was included in His land-grant to their forefather Abraham many years earlier (Genesis 17:8). The land of Canaan would be roughly equivalent to modern-day Israel and Lebanon. Along the way, God met with them in a very dramatic way in the desert at Horeb. Here, God inscribed the Ten Commandments or Decalogue with His finger onto two stone slabs and gave them to Moses. Through Moses God charged the Israelites with the responsibility of keeping these stone tablets forevermore.
Map of the Approximate Route of the Exodus.
Map data courtesy of the United States Department of Defense
and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
Composite Image: Aeragon.
Today, the exact route of the Exodus is unclear and contemporary natural factors tend to confuse the course. Ancient Hebrew manuscripts contain a phrase for one of the geographic features along the route that is generally thought to mean "Reed Sea" rather than "Red Sea." This phrase is "Yam Suf," and while it is widely believed that it means "Reed Sea," its meaning is nevertheless uncertain and possibly idiomatic. An idiom is a word or phrase whose meaning cannot be clearly derived from the actual definition of the term or in the case of an idiomatic phrase, its combined elements.
The Egyptians are Destroyed
James Jacques Joseph Tissot.
It seems that more Hebrew scholars take the phrase "Yam Suf" to mean "Reed Sea" or "Sea of Reeds" rather than "Red Sea." This naturally introduces a great deal of skepticism about exactly which body of water this term describes since today the Red Sea does not support the growth of reeds. While reeds are indigenous to the area, today the Red Sea is far too saline for them. While reeds are known to thrive in estuaries, areas where freshwater and seawater combine, the Red Sea today does not exhibit that characteristic. However, since the Land of Canaan was described in Bible times as a "Land of Milk and Honey," obviously a great deal more fresh water flowed into it in ancient times. Since the Red Sea has a very narrow mouth connecting with the larger ocean at the Southeast end, it is highly probable that this restricted flow coupled with the ancient ample supplies of fresh water flowing into it would result in an estuary capable of supporting a wider variety of both plants and animals.
Exodus 12:37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, beside children. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: 'Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.' 18 But God led the people about, by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea; and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 13:20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 14:1 And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 'Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon, over against it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3 And Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel: They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. (JPS)
The exact locations of most of the settlements mentioned in this portion of scripture are uncertain today. While many of these places are not now known with any certainty, the location of the land of Midian, the land where Mount Horeb was located, is known with certainty and it is located in modern-day Arabia.
The Bible clearly states that Pharaoh's entire army perished in the sea and it is relevant to consider the army of Egypt, probably the largest army in the world at that time, would have occupied a considerable area
Exodus 14:9 And the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Furthermore, 600,000 Israelite men plus women and children in the seabed at once would obviously require substantial area. There is no doubt that it would require a substantial military force to put down such a massive escape.
Exodus 12:37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
According to the Spirit of the Lord, the mountain known as Mt. Sinai today and Mt. Horeb are two distinctly different places. The Bible clearly supports that Mount Horeb cannot be Mount Sinai because Mount Horeb must necessarily be located in Midian. In fact, the children of Israel never traversed the Sinai Peninsula during the Exodus. The location of Midian is known with some certainty today as located in what is present-day Arabia.
Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 3:12 And He said: 'Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be the token unto thee, that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.' (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Exodus 4:19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian: 'Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead that sought thy life.' (JPS) (Emphasis added)
As a Pharisee, the Apostle Paul was apparently aware of the fact that the mount where the law was given was located in Arabia. While many Jewish readers are not fond of New Covenant scriptures, many Rabbis do use them for study. In the case here, Paul's reference is included to augment the above scripture quotes from Exodus because it directly states that the mount where the law was given is in Arabia. This should be evident since they crossed the Red Sea. In Galatians Paul uses the designation of Mount Sinai, but in this book and henceforth the mount where the law was given will be designated Mount Horeb because Mount Sinai has erroneously become associated with a place on the Sinai Peninsula. Furthermore, the Peninsula has become associated with the mount so today it is far clearer to use the alternate designation of Horeb for the mount where the law was given.
Galatians 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons; one of the maid servant, and one of the free woman. 23 But he [that was] of the maid servant was born according to flesh, and he [that was] of the free woman through the promise. 24 Which things have an allegorical sense; for these are two covenants: one from mount Sinai, gendering to bondage, which is Hagar. 25 For Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which [is] now, for she is in bondage with her children; 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. (Darby) (Emphasis added)
Today archeologists search for artifacts of the Exodus, but since the Bible clearly states that God kept everything belonging to the children of Israel from wearing out during the entire journey it is unlikely that many artifacts exist. They search for pottery shards and the like, but since the Lord miraculously provided water and manna from heaven it is improbable that those types of items were originally present in great quantities.
Deuteronomy 29:5 "I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. 6 "You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the LORD your God. (NASB)
The Erection of the Tabernacle and the Sacred Vessels.
Exodus 40:17-19, "And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the Lord commanded Moses."
Illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728.
Image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
In the proximity of Horeb, the Israelites constructed a tent tabernacle with its various furnishings patterned after that which is in heaven. They fabricated many items for the tabernacle including the Ark of the Covenant specifically made to house the Decalogue. Decalogue is the Hebrew word for the Ten Commandments and the Hebrew word for this type of Ark is Aron, meaning chest. The Aron along with the Decalogue constitute the most important objects ever to be on the planet earth. The Ark of the Covenant was present and credited with many miraculous military victories and phenomenal feats and exhibited miraculous powers.
Deuteronomy 10:1 At that time the Lord said unto me: 'Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto Me into the mount; and make thee an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which thou didst break, and thou shalt put them in the ark.' 3 So I made an ark of acacia-wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in my hand. 4 And He wrote on the tables according to the first writing, the ten words, which the Lord spoke unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them unto me. 5 And I turned and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me. (JPS)
The Ark Passes Over the Jordan.
Gouache on board. Circa 1899.
James Jacques Joseph Tissot.
Gift of Jacob Schiff to the New York Public Library, 1909.
Transferred to The Jewish Museum, 1952.
Google Art Project.
The Ark of the Covenant or Aron is a chest-type of object about the size of a footlocker or trunk. One of the several places in scripture where the specifications for the Ark can be found begins at Exodus 25:10. The underlying substructure was made of acacia wood and this box-like chest was open at the top and overlaid with pure gold inside and outside. Its closure was made of solid gold and this lid was known as the "atonement cover" or "mercy-seat." In fact, in Hebrew the word for "cover" means both a lid and atonement. Atonement means reconciliation.
At either end of this cover were fitted cherubim made of hammered work in pure gold. The cherubim were an integral part of the cover. Also attached to the Ark were four gold rings to support poles for transport. The poles were also made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Once in place the poles were never to be removed from the Ark.
Exodus 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show thee, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it. 10 And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four feet thereof; and two rings shall be on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 And thou shalt make staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings on the sides of the ark, wherewith to bear the ark. 15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17 And thou shalt make an ark-cover of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold; of beaten work shalt thou make them, at the two ends of the ark-cover. 19 And make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end; of one piece with the ark-cover shall ye make the cherubim of the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubim shall spread out their wings on high, screening the ark-cover with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the ark-cover shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And thou shalt put the ark-cover above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will speak with thee from above the ark-cover, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. (JPS)
After making the Ark, the tabernacle, its furnishings and utensils at Horeb, the Israelites continued their journey to the land of Canaan. However, through a series of hapless events they ended up wandering in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan for forty years. During this period and beyond the Ark was with the Israelites. Except for a few instances, it remained in Israel's possession up until sometime while the kings ruled. It has been a mystery exactly how and when the Ark vanished despite the fact that the Israelites maintained the best records of any people on earth.
From scripture, it has generally been insurmountable to discover the fate of the Ark or when the first searches for it began. According to the prophets, the Ark was missing for some time before almost anyone including the priests noticed that it was gone. Nevertheless, it is apparent that at least the priests should have realized much earlier that the Aron was missing. Upon discovering the loss, there were apparently some attempts to recover it, but alas, it was too late.
Many studying scripture have observed several instances where the Ark of the Covenant could have been lost.
One of the first obvious places that experts note as a possible point where the Ark could have been lost was during the siege of Jerusalem by Shishak, King of Egypt. This occurred during the reign of Rehoboam, King of Judah shortly after the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were split apart - just after the time of King Solomon.
This is a logical point where the Ark might have vanished because Shishak carried off a great amount of plunder. In fact, scripture notes that Shishak took everything of any value from the temple and the palace.
2 Chronicles 12:9 So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all away; he took away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (JPS)
While this is seemingly one of the best possibilities where the Ark might have been plundered, this is not the case. It is apparent that there are mentions of the Ark in scripture from later times, so evidently either Shishak did not take the Ark or else he brought it back or perhaps there is more to the story. The Ark is not listed as part of the booty taken by Shishak. Despite the fact that there is no mention of the Ark in this part of scripture, Shishak's siege has been logically viewed by some as a possible juncture where the Ark might have disappeared because of the extensive plunder that he carried off.
There are several other instances where the Ark could have been plundered in military operations between the times of the conquerors Shishak and Nebuchadnezzar. Scripture makes no clear note of it. Nevertheless, there are indications of a few efforts by the Israelites to recover the Ark.
The Babylonian Conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC during the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah is often considered another point where the Ark might have vanished because Nebuchadnezzar captured the few people that he did not put to the sword, burned the city and took all of the plunder he possibly could. The historical record notes that Nebuchadnezzar carried off everything from the temple to Babylon and burnt the temple and palaces to the ground. This exile marked the beginning of the Diaspora, the subsequent scattering of the people that were not part of the remnant that returned from captivity. The Babylonian Exile was the point where Israel became completely desolate. The land itself became a desert because God withheld the rain.
The last mention of the Ark in historical scripture is recorded in 2 Chronicles 35:3. This was during the reign of King Josiah shortly before the Babylonians plundered Jerusalem for the last time. Many have determined that this must have been the point where the Ark disappeared; however, this is not the case.
2 Chronicles 35:1 And Josiah kept a passover unto the Lord in Jerusalem; and they killed the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord. 3 And he said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, that were holy unto the Lord: 'Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; there shall no more be a burden upon your shoulders; now serve the Lord your God, and His people Israel. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
The ancient Hebrews made a few attempts to recover the lost Ark. There also have been efforts by others to gain this treasure. After the time of Jesus Christ, known to Jews as Y'shua, Europeans became very interested in the Holy Land and Christian and Jewish artifacts. At least by the time of the Crusades, there were organized quests by European factions to recover any material evidence of the life of Christ. This thirst for religious artifacts also extended far back into antiquity for treasures from Solomon's Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. The Holy Grail is another example of a highly sought after and possibly mythical relic and the Knights Templars reputedly searched for the Ark during the Crusades. Some believe that "Holy Grail" was actually a code name for the Ark of the Covenant. There are also many other theories concerning the meaning of "Holy Grail," some plausible, others not.
None of the efforts to locate the Ark down through the course of history were successful and its fate has remained a mystery. However, there is apparently one extremely notable exception, but this instance remained esoteric knowledge. There is still great interest in locating the Ark of the Covenant and several recent efforts by high-profile researchers claiming to have located it have spurred renewed interest in the lost Ark. Excellent feature films have also spurred interest.
One researcher that claims to have found the Ark is a credible British investigative journalist named Graham Hancock. In his book entitled "The Sign and the Seal," Mr. Hancock presents his extensive and thorough research that concludes that the Ark of Covenant is now in the city of Axum, Ethiopia. Hancock presents several possibilities of how the Ark might have traveled to Ethiopia and concludes that it might have been removed from the temple in Jerusalem during the reign of King Manasseh.
While the theories of Mr. Hancock are very thought provoking, ancient support also exists for the idea that the Ark ended up in Ethiopia. Ethiopia today is the home to the people that were known as the Cushites in Bible times and there are many mentions of them in the Hebrew scriptures. The Cushites lived near the land of Canaan, possibly around Arabia, and were probably nomadic. Eventually, they migrated south to Africa and conquered the land of Ethiopia. Today, Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations on earth.
Ethiopian legend maintains that when the Queen of Sheba made her famous journey to Jerusalem, she was impregnated by King Solomon with a son that later stole the Ark. His name was Menelik, which means "the son of the wise man," and he eventually became the king of Cush, the nation known today as Ethiopia. Accounts of this are included in the Kebra Nagast, an Ethiopian book recording the chronicles of that nation.
The ancient Ethiopian legend about the Ark was passed down by oral tradition until a written language appeared in Ethiopia in approximately the first century AD. At that point, the legends were recorded in a book called the "Kebra Nagast". In English, "Kebra Nagast" means "Book of the Glory of Kings. While the stories in the "Kebra Nagast" contain historical elements, they also have many apparent fantastic embellishments that probably occurred to make storytelling more dramatic. This is common when historical information is passed on through oral tradition.
Another theory as to the location of the Ark of the Covenant has been formulated by archaeologist Ron Wyatt. His conclusion places the Ark in a cavern beneath a hill in Jerusalem. While details of Mr. Wyatt's discovery tend toward the farfetched, it is evident that he firmly believed that he found the Ark. He claimed to have seen this Ark in a cave in Jerusalem, but he produced no tangible evidence of its existence. Mr. Wyatt had an interesting tale about visiting the Ark and his account of how it got into this cave is also of interest. Allegedly, part of the reason for Wyatt's lack of evidence is that the Israeli officials wanted the location sealed up until a more opportune time for political reasons. This is undeniably a plausible explanation for his lack of evidence, considering the tumultuous social and political conditions in the Middle East today. It is relevant that a Holy Land search for the ark between 1909 and 1911 nearly started a religious war. Another fascinating aspect of Ron Wyatt's discovery is the conspicuous mention of the tables of the law that he claimed to have seen. For this reason alone, Ron Wyatt's story bears close examination.
Another theory places the Ark in Scotland where it has been located since medieval times. Research tended to discredit this theory, so there will be no further consideration of this Ark here.
There are several Jewish legends of antiquity about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant. Some place it in caves beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; others place it in caves near the Dead Sea, while others place it in caverns beneath Mount Nebo. These legends recount varied scenarios of how the Ark ended up in these places. Obviously, if any of these tales are true only one could be accurate. One Jewish legend contends that the prophet Jeremiah secreted the Ark away. Another theory contends that through great insight King Solomon made provisions for concealing it under the temple mount while an alternate theory maintains that the prophet Haggai hid it.
Of these theories, it is immediately apparent that they carry more authority than most due to their antiquity and closer connection of the writers that recorded them with the Ark. Several of these legends are recorded in passages in the Talmud and other authoritative rabbinical documents.
Of the theories presented above, two contend that the Ark is in Ethiopia, several place it in Jerusalem, others place it in various locations around Israel and another places it in Scotland. There could be additional purported Arks; but obviously, only one can be real. Since the Ark of the Covenant was about the most important thing ever to be on the planet earth, it must be somewhere and it is highly improbable that it simply vanished without a trace.
While the Tanakh seems to be unclear as to the fate of the Aron, apparently some were aware of its fate. Some Talmudic legends contend that the prophet Jeremiah was aware of its disappearance. In the New Testament, it is evident that Paul the Apostle was privy to more information than he put forth in his writings. Since Paul was also a Pharisee, it is reasonable to surmise that much of his information was historical. In Hebrews, Paul states that the Ark was supposed to fade into the background for a time; therefore, one may conclude that this time-period constituted an epoch that is ending. Frankly, God hid the Ark until the End of Days. Despite the enigma, the details of its disappearance, current location and future are recorded in the Bible for all to see.
Hebrews 9:1 The first therefore also indeed had ordinances of service, and the sanctuary, a worldly one. 2 For a tabernacle was set up; the first, in which [were] both the candlestick and the table and the exposition of the loaves, which is called Holy; 3 but after the second veil a tabernacle which is called Holy of holies, 4 having a golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, covered round in every part with gold, in which [were] the golden pot that had the manna, and the rod of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; concerning which it is not now [the time] to speak in detail. (Darby) (Emphasis added)
Isaiah 40:3 Hark! one calleth: 'Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the Lord, make plain in the desert a highway for our God. (JPS)
While some may be uncertain as to whether or not the Ark still exists or if it has any further importance, it is certain that it does still exist and it is vitally important to both Jews and Christians. It is logical to conclude that the fate of the Ark must be recorded in the Tanakh because it was nearly the most important "thing" ever to exist. In fact, the true importance of the Ark of the Covenant is highly underappreciated.
Deuteronomy 4:31 for the Lord thy God is a merciful God; He will not fail thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He swore unto them. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
It is a conspicuous anomaly that the Ark seemingly just vanished without a trace given its prominence in a substantial portion of early scripture. After all, it was without a doubt nearly the most important object ever to be on the face of the earth and its importance went far beyond its being merely a "thing."
Deuteronomy 29:28 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (JPS)
(This verse appears as Deuteronomy 29:29 in many translations)
Isaiah 46: 9 Remember the former things of old: that I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me; 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying: 'My counsel shall stand, and all My pleasure will I do'; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My counsel from a far country; yea, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass, I have purposed, I will also do it. (JPS)