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J.R. Church presents…

What Really Happened To the Ark of the Covenant

The disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant remains as mysterious today as it was in the days of Jeremiah. In 623 B.C., King Josiah led the Israelites in a celebration of Passover for the first time in over half a century and asked the Levites to return the Ark to the Temple. When they could not produce the sacred chest, the people began to question its whereabouts. Jeremiah calmed their fears by telling them that God would take care of it and that in the Messianic Kingdom, they wouldn’t need it anymore.

The apocryphal book of Second Maccabees offers the story that Jeremiah took the Ark along with the hangings of the Mosaic Tabernacle out to Mount Nebo and hid them in a cave. But the opening paragraph of that book gives a greeting to all the Jews living throughout Egypt. Is it possible that Jeremiah concocted the Mount Nebo story as a diversion to keep people from learning that the Ark had been hidden away in Egypt? The Jews who moved to Elephantine Island in the midst of the Nile River (around 667 B.C.) had built a full-sized replica of Solomon’s Temple. No Temple was built in Babylon during the captivity. But for some strange reason, a Jewish Temple was built in Southern Egypt. Perhaps the Ark was hidden there.

When the Egyptians destroyed the Jewish Temple in 410 B.C., the Jews moved southward into Ethiopia and settled on the island of Kirkos on Lake Tana, right in the heart of Ethiopia. There is a group of Jewish priests who live there to this day with stories of how their ancestors had kept the Ark in a sacred tent until the 3rd century when it was removed to Aksum, Ethiopia and deposited in an underground chamber beneath the Church of Saint Mary of Zion. Well, that’s the stuff that legends are made of!