The Bible–Confusion, Controversy, and Clarification–Part 2

Ark of the Covenant


Steven Spielberg brought the ark into our movie theaters and homes with his famous movie The Raiders of the Lost Ark. It might be good to set the record straight here. The ark was a sacred portable chest that contained key items important to the Jewish people. It was the most important sacred object of the children of Israel during the wilderness period.


It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold and four rings of gold through which carrying poles were inserted so that nobody actually touched the ark. On the top was something called the mercy seat, which was a slab of pure gold which fit exactly on the top of the ark. It measured roughly four feet by two feet by two feet, so it was not very big. The Jews constructed that as they wandered in the wilderness after escaping Egypt. Inside the box were placed the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, manna (the miracle food used by God to sustain the people in their wanderings), and the rod of Aaron, representing his priestly role. Later, after they came into the land promised them by God centuries before, they lost the ark to the Philistines in a battle. These enemies of the Jews soon returned the ark to its rightful owners because it had caused disasters for them. David eventually brought it to Jerusalem where it was later established in the Holy of Holies of the Temple which Solomon, David’s son, built.


What’s especially interesting about the ark is its disappearance. In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, leader of the Babylonians, destroyed Jerusalem. From that point on, the ark disappeared. There are all sorts of stories regarding its final resting place. Some say it was hidden by the Jews as the Babylonians approached their city and is buried somewhere in Jerusalem. Others report that Jeremiah took the ark and buried it on Mount Nebo in today’s Lebanon. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims it has the original ark which is kept under guard. There are stories from South Africa and Zimbabwe that natives ended up with the ark and have hidden it somewhere in their territories. The Knights Templar have also figured in stories of the ark’s disappearance; it was claimed that they took the ark to Chartres Cathedral in France. There are even some who suggest the ark made its way to America or Ireland. So, if you have some money and some spare time, you may want to find out for yourself where the ark ended up.