Construction and descriptionEdit
According to the Book of Exodus, God instructed Moses on Mount Sinai during his 40-day stay upon the mountain within the thick cloud and darkness where God was (Ex. 19:20; 24:18) and he was shown the pattern for the tabernacle and furnishings of the Ark to be made of shittim-wood to house the Tablets of Stone. Moses instructed Bezalel and Oholiab to construct the Ark (Exodus 31).
The Book of Exodus gives detailed instructions on how the Ark is to be constructed. It is to be 2½ cubits in length, 1½ in breadth, and 1½ in height (as 21⁄2×11⁄2×11⁄2 royal cubits or 1.31×0.79×0.79 m, or 4.29 × 2.59 × 2.59 feet). Then it is to be plated entirely with gold, and a crown or molding of gold is to be put around it. Four rings of gold are to be attached to its four feet—two on each side—and through these rings staves of shittim-wood overlaid with gold for carrying the Ark are to be inserted; and these are not to be removed. A golden cover, adorned with golden cherubim, is to be placed above the Ark. The Ark is finally to be placed behind a veil (Parochet), a full description of which is also given.
Rumored current locationsEdit
Since its disappearance from the Biblical narrative, there have been a number of claims of having discovered or of having possession of the Ark, and several possible places have been suggested for its location.
2 Maccabees 2:4-10, written around 100 BC, says that the prophet Jeremiah, "being warned by God" before the Babylonian invasion, took the Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Altar of Incense, and buried them in a cave on Mount Nebo (Jordan), informing those of his followers who wished to find the place that it should remain unknown "until the time that God should gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy."
The Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum allegedly houses the original Ark of the Covenant.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum, not far from the border with Eritrea. The object is currently kept under guard in a treasury near the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion and is used occasionally in ritual processions. Replicas of the Axum tabot are kept in every Ethiopian church, each with its own dedication to a particular saint, the most popular of these include Mary, George and Michael.
The Kebra Nagast, composed to legitimize the new dynasty ruling Ethiopia following its establishment in 1270, narrates how the real Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. Although the Kebra Nagast is the best-known account of this belief, the belief predates the document. Abu Salih the Armenian, writing in the last quarter of the twelfth century, makes one early reference to this belief that they possessed the Ark. "The Abyssinians possess also the Ark of the Covenant", he wrote, and, after a description of the object, describes how the liturgy is celebrated upon the Ark four times a year, "on the feast of the great nativity, on the feast of the glorious Baptism, on the feast of the holy Resurrection, and on the feast of the illuminating Cross."
On 25 June 2009, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, Abune Paulos, said he would announce to the world the next day the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, which he said had been kept safe and secure in a church in Axum, Ethiopia. The following day, on 26 June 2009, the patriarch announced that he would not unveil the Ark after all, but that instead he could attest to its current status.
The Lemba people of South Africa and Zimbabwe have claimed that their ancestors carried the Ark south, calling it the ngoma lungundu or "voice of God", eventually hiding it in a deep cave in the Dumghe mountains, their spiritual home.
On 14 April 2008, in a UK Channel 4 documentary, Tudor Parfitt, taking a literalist approach to the Biblical story, described his research into this claim. He says that the object described by the Lemba has attributes similar to the Ark. It was of similar size, was carried on poles by priests, was not allowed to touch the ground, was revered as a voice of their God, and was used as a weapon of great power, sweeping enemies aside.
In his book The Lost Ark of the Covenant (2008), Parfitt also suggests that the Ark was taken to Arabia following the events depicted in the Second Book of Maccabees, and cites Arabic sources which maintain it was brought in distant times to Yemen. One Lemba clan, the Buba, which was supposed to have brought the Ark to Africa, have a genetic signature called the Cohen Modal Haplotype. This suggests a male Semitic link to the Levant. Lemba tradition maintains that the Ark spent some time in Sena in Yemen. Later, it was taken across the sea to East Africa and may have been taken inland at the time of the Great Zimbabwe civilization. According to their oral traditions, some time after the arrival of the Lemba with the Ark, it self-destructed. Using a core from the original, the Lemba priests constructed a new one. This replica was discovered in a cave by a Swedish German missionary named Harald von Sicard in the 1940s and eventually found its way to the Museum of Human Science in Harare.
Parfitt had this artifact radio-carbon dated to about 1350, which coincided with the sudden end of the Great Zimbabwe civilization.
Chartres Cathedral, FranceEdit
French author Louis Charpentier claimed that the Ark was taken to Chartres Cathedral by the Knights Templer.
Rennes-le-Château, then to AmericaEdit
Several recent authors have theorized that the Ark was taken from Jerusalem to the village of Rennes-le-Château in Southern France. Karen Ralls has cited Freemason Patrick Byrne, who believes the Ark was moved from Rennes-le-Château at the outbreak of World War I to America.
The Ark of the Covenant was said to be have been kept in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, surviving the pillages of Rome by Genseric and Alaric I but lost when the basilica burned.
In 2003, author Graham Phillips hypothetically concluded that the Ark was taken to Mount Sinai in the Valley of Edom by the Maccabees. Phillips claims it remained there until the 1180s, when Ralph de Sudeley, the leader of the Templars found the Maccabean treasure at Jebel al-Madhbah, returned home to his estate at Herdewyke in Warwickshire, UK, taking the treasure with him.
During the turn of the 20th century British Israelites carried out some excavations of the Hill of Tara in Ireland looking for the Ark of the Covenant – the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland campaigned successfully to have them stopped before they destroyed the hill.
In 1922 in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) was opened by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Among the artifacts was a processional ark, listed as Shrine 261, the Anubis Shrine. Almost immediately after publication of the photographs of this sensational archaeological find some claimed that the Anubis Shrine could be the Ark of the Covenant. John M. Lundquist, author of The Temple of Jerusalem: past, present, and future (2008), discounts this idea. The Anubis Shrine measures 95 centimeters long, 37 centimeters wide, 54.3 centimeters high (approximately 54.5 inches long, 13.5 inches wide, 37 inches high) in the shape of a pylon. The Biblical Ark of the Covenant is approximately 52.5 inches long, 31.5 inches wide, and 31.5 inches high in the shape of a rectangular chest.
He points out that Shrine 261 is not strictly analogous to the Ark of the Covenant: it can only be said that the Anubis Shrine is "ark-like", constructed of wood, gilded and gessoed, stored within a sacred tomb, "guarding" the treasury of the tomb (and not the primary focus of that environment), that it contains compartments within it that store and hold sacred objects, that it has a figure of Anubis on its lid, and that it was carried by two staves permanently inserted into rings at its base and borne by eight priests in the funerary procession to Tutankhamun's tomb. Its value is the insight it provides to the ancient culture of Egypt. The figure of Anubis itself contradicts any claim that Shrine 261 could be the Ark of the Covenant.
A 1936 German excavation of the lost city of Tanis supposedly found the ark which was taken to an undisclosed location.
The Nazis at the time sought every sacred and supernatural object they could get their hands on from the Spear of Destiny to the Ark and the Holy Grail. Following tenuous leads the SS funded digs all over the world looking for "proof" of the mystical power of the Aryan people.
After the Germans had an unusual encounter the ark was taken by US intelligence led by Dr. Henry Jones Jr. The Ark was transported to the United States and rests in an undisclosed location.
Of course no one knows anything and Dr. Jones calls it a fanciful story. Yes he was consulted about the Nazi activities and labeled them for what they were; baseless superstition.