It is one of the great mysteries of the Bible – what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 586 BC, they ransacked the city, hauled its citizens off into captivity and looted the Temple taking its treasures as spoils of war.
A number of Bible passages list the items the Babylonians stole. One found in Jeremiah is particularly detailed and includes even pots and spoons (Jeremiah 52:17-23). But strangely missing from all the lists including Jeremiah’s and the listings provided in 2 Kings 24:13, and 2 Kings 25: 13-18 is any mention of the Ark of the Covenant.
It was a gold-plated wooden box on which God’s Presence manifested. As the most important piece of furniture in the temple, the Babylonians would have coveted it.
Many believe the Jews hid the Ark to stop it from falling into Babylonian hands. But when Babylon hauled Israel’s citizens into captivity for 70 years, the people who hid the Ark died and its location forgotten. Rumors even circulated that the prophet Jeremiah had hidden it.
But the Temple’s most important piece of furniture is back in the news again when archaeologists announced they will be doing a dig at the site of the ancient Judean town of Kiryat Ye’arim.
The ark of the covenant actually sat at this site for 20 years. After the Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant in battle, they put it on display in the temple of Dagon. But after God judged the Philistines with a series of plagues, the terrified Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelis (1 Samuel 6) dropping it off at the border town of Beth-shemesh.
From here the Jews moved the Ark to Kiryat Ye’arim and set up priests to care for the site:
And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark of the Lord and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim, the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. (1 Samuel 7:1-2 NASV)
After 20 years at this place, King David transported the Ark to Jerusalem where it first resided in the Tabernacle of David and was later installed in the Temple of Solomon, where it eventually disappeared during the Babylonian invasion.
It is believed the dig at Kiryat Ye’arim taking place this summer by archaeologists from France and Israel will reveal significant discoveries as it is one the few remaining major archaeological sites in Israel yet to be investigated.
Though they don’t expect to find any clues to the Ark’s current location, many expect they will find evidence of the ark’s stay at the site. Some believe there may even be a small temple in the town where the Ark was housed.
The town was mentioned over 12 times in the Bible from the time of Israel’s conquest under Joshua well into King David’s reign. In the book of Joshua it was called Kiryat Ba’al suggesting it was also originally the site of a Baal Temple.
- Mysteries of Ark’s journey revealed as excavation begins at site of Ark of Covenant: Breaking Israel News
- Archaeologists plan a mission to explore the Ark that inspired Indiana Jones in the hopes of discovering the Ten Commandments: The Daily Mail