Ark of the Covenant's discovery imminent?


Posted: May 28, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2005

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is one of my all-time favorite movies, filled with mystery and adventure. It focuses on the search for a biblical artifact and treasure called The Ark of the Covenant. What makes the movie particularly exciting is how closely it mimics (with some added Hollywood flair) the real life hunt for the lost Ark.

History has it that the original Ark was where God manifested His presence on earth beginning in the days of Moses. The Ark was designed as a chest made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It had four golden rings. Each one attached to a corner. These rings provided a means to carry the Ark by inserting two wooden bars (also overlaid with gold) on either side. Atop the Ark were two golden cherubim spreading their wings over the Ark's cover also known as the mercy seat.

The Ark itself contained the Ten Commandments and was housed in the innermost room of the Jewish Temple called the Holy of Holies. Here it was the center of worship, although actual access to the Ark was permitted only once a year on the Day of Atonement called Yom Kippur. On that day, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of a goat to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites.

Other contents of the Ark included Aaron's rod and a golden pot of manna. Additionally, the Ark is renowned for its mysterious powers. According to the Bible, when the Ark was carried by the people of Israel into battle, it protected the Israelites, supernaturally defeating any adversaries that came before them.

This explains why in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" the Nazis were intent on obtaining it. Their theory (as the story line goes) was that they would be unbeatable if they possessed the Ark and could harness its mysterious powers. Of course, as both the movie and history would have it, things didn't quite work out for the Nazis.

But what of the Ark?

It is believed to have disappeared with the destruction of the First Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 586 B.C. The exact whereabouts of the Ark have remained a mystery ever since.

One theory is that the Ark was taken from ancient Jerusalem by Prince Menelik of Ethiopia. Menelik was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Menelik purportedly brought the Ark to his country for safekeeping where it currently remains housed in a church in Axum.

Another theory is that the Ark was hidden in a secret chamber housed beneath Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The alleged secret chamber was created by either King Solomon, who built the First Temple, or a subsequent king before the temple was plundered by Nebuchadnezzar.

One version of this theory suggests that in the early 12th century a group of nine Frenchmen known as the original Knights Templars excavated beneath the site of the old Temple of Jerusalem. They retrieved the true Ark of the Covenant and secreted it away.

A second more popular version suggests the Ark is still located in a vault somewhere in the miles of tunnels carved beneath the city of Jerusalem. It is believed the location of the Ark will be revealed when the time is right for the Jewish Temple to be built for the third time.

One famous adherent to this theory is Dr. Vendyl Jones. He is a modern-day explorer and teacher and the true inspiration for the Indiana Jones series. Startling the world, he announced last week on Israel National Radio that he actually knows the location of the Ark.

He says according to ancient documents the Ark is hidden in a secret passage that runs 18 miles south of the Temple Mount into the Judean Desert. Before dismissing his claim as a lark, it is worth noting that Jones published a book in 1959 predicting the precise outbreak of the Six Day War.