The History of the Ark

          What Happened to the Ark?

          In searching the Bible, Ron found the last mention in the Bible of the Ark's location:

          2CH 35:1 Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.... 3 And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, PUT THE HOLY ARK IN THE HOUSE WHICH SOLOMON THE SON OF DAVID KING OF ISRAEL DID BUILD; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel,... 19 In the EIGHTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF JOSIAH was this passover kept.

           This was about the year 621 BC, just 35 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, when Judah went into the second phase of their Babylonian captivity. This information told Ron that the Ark disappeared from the Divine record sometime between 621 BC and 586 BC. Since the temple was completely destroyed, there is no doubt that it was NOT there after that time.

          As Ron continued to study, he noticed something he found strange- in 2 Kings 24:13, 2Kings 25:13-18, and Jeremiah 52:17-23, a very detailed account was given of the items taken to Babylon from the "king's house" and the "house of the Lord"- it even mentioned small items like "spoons", etc. But the Ark isn't mentioned.

          Neither is it mentioned in the lists of things brought back from Babylon in Ezra 1:7-1:11. Since we are told in Jeremiah 28:3 that everything taken to Babylon from the "house of the Lord" would be returned, and since the Ark wasn't among the returned items, this proves that it was never taken to Babylon .

          Shishak (Egyptian pharaoh) and Sennacherib (king of Assyria) are also mentioned as having taken items from the "house of the Lord"- but neither did any of those items include the Ark.

          So what happened to it? In 2 Kings 25:1, telling about the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon, we are told that the Babylonian army "pitched against it" and built "forts against it round about"- which means they built a "siege wall". This verse further tells that the siege lasted over a year before the city was taken. And it was with this verse that Ron found the evidence which indicated to him that the Ark could be in the location he had pointed to. Of course, it wasn't positive proof- to Ron it only meant that it was a possibility. What did this "siege wall" have to do with the Ark?
           

          The Siege Wall

          Siege walls were built by attacking armies outside of the walls of the city under attack, at a distance outside of the range of the weapons used by that city- what were these weapons during this time?

          2CH 26:14 And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. 15 And he made in Jerusalem ENGINES, INVENTED BY CUNNING MEN, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, TO SHOOT ARROWS AND GREAT STONES withal.

          Uzziah, spoken of in this verse, was king over 100 years BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem, and we here learn that they had "engines" on the "towers" and "bulwarks" which shot "arrows" and "great stones". Catapults were capable of reaching over 1,000 feet, and therefore Ron reasoned that the siege wall would have been positioned out of the range of these massive devices, and therefore, further from the city wall than the site he had pointed to.

          He finally concluded:
           

            1) the Ark had to have been hidden between the 18th year of Josiah, (when we are told he had it taken to Solomon's temple), and 35 years later, when the temple was destroyed;

            2) it was NOT taken to Babylon, based on the information from the Scriptures which told what went to Babylon & what was returned;

            3) it was most likely hidden just prior to the destruction of the temple, when Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonian siege wall; and

            4) it was hidden somewhere within the confines of the city wall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian siege wall. The entire city AND the temple were destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians, so the Ark could have only escaped destruction or captivity by NOT being anywhere in the city.

           Again, the site he had pointed to was, he believed, outside of the ancient city wall and within the siege wall. It was supposition based on study, but still only supposition. Yet, it was enough to base a decision on- he decided to go ahead with the excavation.
           
          The Ark in the Apocrypha

          He decided to see if any mention was found in any non-Biblical records, especially Jewish. He found 2 intriguing instances. In the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees, we read:

          2 Mac 2:2 The records show that it was Jeremiah who... 4,... prompted by a divine message, the prophet gave orders that the Tent of Meeting and the Ark should go with him. Then he went to the mountain from the top of which Moses saw God's promised land. 5 When he reached the mountain, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling; he carried the tent, the Ark, and the incense altar into it, then blocked up the entrance. 6 Some of his companions came to mark out the way, but were unable to find it. 7 When Jeremiah learned of this he reprimanded them. `The place shall remain unknown', he said, `until God finally gathers His people together and shows mercy to them. 8 Then the Lord will bring these things to light again, and the glory of the Lord will appear with the cloud, as it was seen both in the time of Moses, and when Solomon prayed that the shrine might be worthily consecrated.

          The writer, in this letter to "Jewish kinsmen in Egypt, the Jews who are in Jerusalem, and those in the country of Judaea", explains where he got this information:

          "These same facts are set out in the official records and in the memoirs of Nehemiah. Just as Nehemiah collected the chronicles of the kings, the writings of prophets, the works of David, and royal letters about sacred offerings, to found his library, so Judas also has collected all the books that had been scattered as a result of our recent conflict. These are in our possession, and if you need any of them, send messengers for them."

          Also worthy of note: the quote in 2 Maccabees, above, could have been mis-translated over the years and originally have stated that the Ark was hidden NOT IN the mountain Moses was ON when he viewed the promised land (Mt. Nebo, Deu. 32:49), but instead it could mean that the Ark was hidden IN the mountain that Moses SAW when he viewed the promised land. From Nebo he would have been able to see Jerusalem because of it's altitude.

          In the Pseudepigraphal book called "The Paralipomena of Jeremiah" (meaning "the remaining words of Jeremiah") it is also written that Jeremiah, in obedience to God's command, hid the sacred objects from the temple just before the destruction of Jerusalem. Now, neither of these books are to be trusted as completely accurate- however, they do show a strong tradition that has Jeremiah hiding, or having someone else hide, the Ark and other objects from the temple.

          Is there any truth in these 2 books? Perhaps- since Jeremiah WAS the prophet in Jerusalem during the time of Josiah (when the Ark was brought back into the temple) and he continued through to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, it is logical to believe it possible that God directed him to have the Ark and other sacred items hidden.

          Also, Jeremiah, himself,  wrote:

          JER 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.

          The implication here is that at the time he wrote this- (during the reign of Josiah, v. 6),- they still had the Ark in their possession. This entire passage, which begins with verse 6, is a plea to return from their apostasy, although their captivity was already foretold by Isaiah. Therefore, could this above verse about the Ark of the Covenant be a prediction that they no longer will have it when they return from captivity? Just 2 verses later, he writes:

          JER 3:18 IN THOSE DAYS the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and THEY SHALL COME TOGETHER OUT OF THE LAND OF THE NORTH to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.

          The "land of the north" was Babylon where they would soon spend 70 years in captivity. If this understanding is correct, it indicates that Jeremiah DID have knowledge that they would no longer have the Ark when they returned from Babylon.

          But also important to note is that he CLEARLY indicated that "neither shall that be done ANYMORE", which is proof that there is no promise of it ever being reinstated.

          In fact, in Ezekiel, when he gives the instructions for the temple, he gives NO instructions which included the Ark. It was never mentioned.

          Since Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonian siege wall during the time the Ark seemed to have disappeared, Ron believed it may have been possible for someone to have taken it to a location within the siege wall and not be detected. The quotes we read above agree with the "time", but we just don't know for sure- and again, these books are not inspired so we cannot rely on them.

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