Where is the Ark of the Covenant now?
For all people who honor the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant, or Testimony, Revelation is the greatest shrine. According to the Bible, there were stored stone tablets with ten commandments. In the same source it is mentioned that the Ark during the exodus of Jews from Egypt was in the holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple. The Bible describes in detail its appearance.
Appearance of the Ark: biblical description
The Ark describes the Old Testament as follows. It was made of acacia wood, gold-plated on the outside and inside, with a golden crown at the top.
The shittim tree spoken of in the Holy Scriptures is a strong form of acacia growing around the Red Sea in the desert.
The Bible also states that the Ark was 1.5 cubits high and wide and 2.5 cubic meters long. 44.4 cm is the Egyptian small elbow, therefore, the length of the Ark was 111 cm, and the width and height - 66.6 cm.
According to the Talmud, there could be three actually biblical Testaments - chests, boxes in which there were tables of the Covenant. The inner box, according to this source, was made of gold.He was inside a larger wooden case.
According to another view, the Ark is only one, but is covered inside and out with gold. Perhaps he also had four legs. On two poles it was carried by hand. They were also made of acacia and fastened to the side walls.
The cover with the image of two cherubs
The ark was covered on top with a golden lid. Its length was 2.5 cubits, and its width - 1.5. On the lid on top were images of two cherubs, cast of gold, facing each other, with wings covering the Ark, which was the most important evidence of the Bible — a visible reminder of the Covenant (made between the people of Israel and the God of the union).
The Lord promised Moses over the lid of the Ark to appear in the cloud and speak between the two cherubs. A special force emanating from the Creator is associated with the Ark. This force is the Divine Presence, the Shekinah. The Lord spoke to him with Moses, telling the commandment to the Israelites. Below is the Ark of the Covenant (photo of one of the copies).
What was inside?
The tables of the Covenant were placed in the box itself. It was also believed that the unspeakable name of the Lord existed here.The Torah scroll was also kept near the Ark. It was written by the hand of Moses himself. In the holy of holies of the tabernacle, and then of the temple, was placed a vessel with manna, which during the wanderings in the desert of the Jews fell from the sky, as well as the flourished rod of Moses' brother, Aaron.
How was the shrine kept?
Only the high priest was allowed to approach the Ark and only once a year, more precisely, on Yom Kippur. He could be carried on the shoulders of Levite monks. Securely sheltered from the eyes of people was these shrines, as an ordinary person was dangerous to look at her.
The history of the Ark of the Covenant is marked by the fact that on the way to the Holy Land, the people of Israel moved from place to place led by God. Moses called before going on a journey with the Ark: "Arise, Lord, and your enemies will be scattered." When the people built according to the “militia” and “camps” stopped, Moses said: “Return, Lord ...”.
The ark was transferred upon entering the Promised Land of the Israelis from one locality to another several times. He was first at the mountain of Geval, in the camp of the Jews, after which - in Shilo and in Bet-El. The shrine was captured in a battle near the city of Mitzpah by the Philistines.However, the cities to which the Ark was transported suffered disasters. Therefore, the Philistines had no choice but to return the shrine to the Jews. King David after the conquest of Jerusalem, he decided to transport it to the new capital of Israel. However, at first the Ark stood for three months in the house of a Levite. In Jerusalem, King David built a new tabernacle - this is a tent in which a relic was placed.
For her, the king also planned the erection of the temple, but the Lord did not allow him to do this. Solomon, son of David, nevertheless built a cathedral. The Ark was installed in his holy of holies. Solomon, according to the agadic tradition, had foreseen a special hiding place in the basements of the temple, where they could hide the sacred relic, which the prophet Jeremiah hid.
The Last Ark Certificate
By the VII century BC, the time of the reign of Josiah, king of Judah, is the last testimony of this shrine. Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonian king, was destroyed in 586 BC. Jerusalem temple Before this event, the Ark of the Covenant disappeared. He was not mentioned among the treasures taken out of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
One of the main secrets of the story is what happened to the Ark in the future.It is known that he was no longer in the Second Temple.
In the Second Book of the Maccabees it is said that, guided by the command of the Lord, the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark on Mount Nevo. According to this source, the prophet, in obedience to divine revelation, commanded the tabernacle to follow him when he climbed the mountain with which Moses saw the inheritance of God. Jeremiah, coming there, found a dwelling in a cave and brought in a shrine, a tabernacle and an altar, and then he barred the entrance. When some of the attendants came later to find the door, they could not notice it. After Jeremiah found out about this, he said, reproaching them that the place would remain unknown until God gathered a crowd of people, having compassion. Then His glory will appear and a cloud will arise, as happened once with Moses.
Mount Nebo is one of the most important places in which the events of the Bible took place. It is located near the Dead Sea, its northern extremity, to the east of it. The mountain is located at an altitude of 817 m above sea level. She is on the territory of the current Jordan.
The Book of Deuteronomy (Old Testament) tells about the last day of the life of the Prophet Moses.He, at the behest of God, went up to this mountain to look at the Promised Land, on which the Lord did not allow him to settle. Here Moses died, as the Bible mentions.
The Ark of the Covenant was not found on Mount Nebo, but the traces of the later buildings are still preserved. These are the ruins of a church that was erected at the end of the 4th century at the place where Moses allegedly died, as well as the remains of a monastery, attributed by historians to the 4th - 6th centuries.
Finding the Ark according to the Talmud
The oral Torah, as the book is called by the Jews, tells us another place of the Ark. According to the Talmud, he was hidden under the cornerstone of the universe, as indicated by King Josiah. It is assumed that he was in the temple of Solomon, in the holy of holies or his other place. There is also another opinion - the Ark, together with the captive Israelites, nevertheless fell into Babylon.
Axum City - Possible Location
Another authoritative source indicates that in the city of Aksum, in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Zion, the Ark of the Covenant is guarded by local priests. A photo of this cathedral is presented below (it is located in the foreground of the image, and behind it is a chapel).
The sanctuary was built in the IV century, but was rebuilt many times.Here the rulers of Ethiopia for many centuries in a row take the crown. The current church was built by Haile Selassie in the 50s of the last century. His wife ordered the construction of a tiny chapel on the cathedral’s territory. It was conceived as the last place where the Ark of the Covenant could be stored. In fact, the chapel was erected around the sacred relic. It has a narrow passage that prevents the Ark from being carried out. Only one Guardian sees him. He spends his whole life inside the quarter-acre fenced area that surrounds the chapel, and he and he are never allowed to see the Ark.
Each Ethiopian temple has copies of relics. Every year they are taken out on public display during a church holiday. "Glory of the Kings", a literary source of the XIV century, tells how the Ark came to Ethiopia. According to him, Baina Lack, the son of Solomon and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, who later became the king of Menelik and the founder of the Negus dynasty, secretly transferred the Ark to this country, to one of the temples of its former capital, Axum.
However, this is not the only version of how the shrine was in Ethiopia. There is an opinion that the Ark carried the cohenes (church priests) out of the temple. This happened during the reign of Manasseh.The cohenes were afraid that this king might defile the Ark, and took it away. And they had something to fear: Manasseh installed idols in the chapels, fell into worship of them, imitating the cruel bloody cults of the Middle East, which included, among other things, human sacrifices. He retreated from the clear and simple commandments of the Torah, even found altars dedicated to Astarte and Baal - pagan deities, as well as the heavenly bodies in the Temple of the Lord, the holiest place in all of Israel.
This overwhelmed the patience of the local priests, and they brought to Egypt from the desecrated temple the Ark. Here he found himself on the island of Eve, better known as Elephantine. A new temple was built on this site, in which the Ark resided for the next 200 years. However, then this cathedral was destroyed. The Ark eventually hit the island of Tana-Kirkos in Ethiopia. It was installed, as in the distant times of wandering in the desert of the Jews, in a tent and served for eight years as an object of worship. After the conversion of the Ethiopian king to Christianity, the ark was moved to the cathedral located in Axum (the Holy Virgin Mary of Zion). Photos of the cathedral are presented below. According to another version, the Ark of the Covenant was found and contained in a secret place. Here he must remain until the temple is restored in Jerusalem.
The ark symbolizes in the synagogues aron-a-kodesh - a cupboard in which the Torah scrolls are located. Similar to the personification of the sacred casket in Christian churches are the tabernacles, who are usually located in the altar section. They contain the Blood and Body of Christ, symbols of the New Testament with the faith of man in God. In the Apocalypse of John the Divine, the biblical revelation, it is said that the Ark of the Covenant will return when the second coming begins.
Information about the Ark from Islamic sources
We receive no less valuable information about this shrine also from Islamic books. The Qur'an indicates that the stone tablets of the Covenant, which Moses brought from Mount Sinai, were kept in the Ark; besides, the rod of Moses and the miter of the prophet Aaron were located in it. Muslims call this shrine "Tabut Sakina", that is, the "Storehouse of Grace." During the wars, as the Koran relates, this Ark was lost by the Israelites.
The Muslims knew that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, made a campaign against the Jews and conquered Jerusalem after a tough battle. The local people were captured, and the city - destroyed.The Muslims were also aware that after forty years the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity and restored the temple. Yet the hall in which the Ark of the Covenant was located was empty.
Where did he disappear according to Muslims? The answer to this question is the followers of Mohammed. As is well known, the sacred texts of this religion include, in addition to the Quran, also Hadith. These are authentic statements of the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion. According to them, the Ark of the Covenant was found on the territory of modern Turkey. He is nestled in the city of Antakya, near the border with Syria. He could only get here with the Essenes, followers of another religious movement.
The Essenes are a Jewish community that existed at the turn of our era, which was in opposition to the Pharisees who dominated Jerusalem at the time. They left the city shortly after in 70 AD. he was captured by the Romans. The Essenes settled near the Dead Sea, on its northwestern coast, in the Qumran caves. Here they copied and saved the Torah. In the middle of the twentieth century, these texts were found. Another group of Essenes settled in the Antakya region. They kept carefully the greatest shrine brought with them, breaking off any contact with the world. The area where Antakya was located was rich in caves.The Essenes could safely shelter a shrine in one of them, where the Ark of the Covenant is now located. In the Sura “Cave” (in the Qur'an) it is a question of seven believing young men who took refuge from the godless ruler, his pursuer, in a cave. According to the experts of the Koran, it was located in Antakya. It is possible that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord is kept here to this day, waiting in the wings.
According to the teachings of Islam, the shrine will be found again at the end of time, when the whole of humanity will live according to the Koran. This event will mean that the arrival of the Mahdi (Messiah) is near. He will establish righteous rule on earth, the kingdom of the commandments of the Lord and morality.
It should be noted that Muslim views on this issue are remarkably similar to the views of Christians and Jews. Thus, the latter believe that the Ark will be found with the arrival of the Messiah (Messiah), sent by God. Christians are convinced that it will be discovered before the second coming of Christ.
Historical chronicles indicating where the Ark of the Covenant is located
The location of this shrine today is unknown. After the 70th year of our era the traces of the Ark are lost. The last mention of him in historical sources refers precisely to this time.Titus, the Roman emperor, who destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple of Solomon, according to this information, found there a secret room in which the Ark of the New Testament was located. He took him to Rome, the capital of his empire, along with other relics. Since then, the search for the Ark, undertaken at different times, remained unsuccessful.
For example, one of the main goals of the crusades in the Holy Land was to search for the Ark of the Covenant. The Order of the Knights Temple was founded in Jerusalem. He is known more as the Knights Templar. His knights carried out these searches. In the ancient capital of Judea, temples conducted excavations on the mountain, where the temple of Solomon was located.
The search for the Ark in the twentieth century
The twentieth century, thanks to the scientific discoveries made in it, made the topic of the search for this shrine again relevant. The new generation Ark of the Covenant continued to search in other ways.
Qumransy caves, which brought back important biblical texts to the world, gave people hope for finding the lost relics. A group of archaeologists, led by Gerald Harding, explored the cave in 1952. Scientists have discovered during the excavation a copper scroll with a text written in Hebrai.It differed from all the other convolutions found there in that it was made on an unusual material (hundreds of others found earlier were made of parchment), and also in that the text was engraved on it in reverse order: it ended on the front side , and started on the back. This finding was sent to Manchester. Here, with difficulty, the scroll was unfolded and the text was read through the joint efforts of many researchers. It turned out to be very difficult, as if confused on purpose. To understand it, it was necessary to have considerable knowledge of Hebrew literature and language. The text consisted of a chaotic listing of various geographical names, as well as descriptions of a particular locality.
After only four years from the beginning of the study, a preliminary version of the inscription was published, which it was possible to decipher. Vendil Jones, a researcher, interpreted it. According to this scientist, it contained information about the hidden treasures of the temple of Solomon in the caches before the invasion in 422 BC. Babylonians. This text can help researchers understand where the Ark of the Covenant is now.In one of the fragments it is said that in the valley of Ankor, at the base of the hill there is a stone on its eastern side. He closes the entrance to the cave where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Where exactly to look for it? It is necessary to go down from the entrance down forty steps, and here is a silver casket, covered with earth, and next to it is a tabernacle with treasures. The rest of this text contains various landmarks that can help you locate the cache. However, as was established by Vendil Jones, these instructions can be used only with the help of a special code that has not yet been detected.
Here, the Elshanon treatise, written by him in Amsterdam in 1648, came to the attention of researchers. It is remarkable for the fact that it contains the full text of one Hebrew work, which was lost long ago. It consisted of twelve chapters. It lists the boxes, chests and vessels with treasures hidden in secret places by the prophet Jeremiah in 429 BC, that is, seven years before the Babylonian invasion. The first chapter deals with vessels, and the second says that the inscriptions were printed on a copper scroll!
In the Talmud, as we remember, there is information about how Jeremiah hid the Ark, predicting with the help of his prophetic gift the invasion of the Babylonians. In addition, he covered the rod of Aaron, a vessel of anointing oil and a casket with jewels sent by the Philistines.
The mystery of the Ark of the Covenant interests many. The story of his search, for example, formed the basis of the film by Steven Spielberg entitled “Seekers of the Lost Ark”, created in 1981 (the scene from this film is shown above). However, the search for the shrines of Muslims, Christians and Jews, with the discovery of which they associate the end of time, has not yet been completed. And today, researchers are endlessly debating about where the Ark of the Covenant is now.