Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main, z60
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Does an ancient copper scroll hold clues to the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant?


The Wadi-Qumran Credit: Otto_Friedrich45/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Wadi-Qumran Credit: Otto_Friedrich45/Flickr/Creative Commons

According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), a copper scroll discovered in 1952 in caves along with the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls may actually be an ancient treasure map.

The two thousand-year old scroll, made of thin sheets of copper, sticks out from its fellow Dead Sea Scrolls made of papyrus discovered in caves found in cliffs below a large plateau a mile away from the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea.

The scroll also differs in one other significant way — while the Dead Sea Scrolls contain Biblical texts and other religious writings — the copper scroll is a map with 64 different locations marked out on it. It also lists quantities of gold and silver associated with each site along with clues and descriptions of the secret locations.

Archaeologists believe the map probably outlines where Jews hid money during the Jewish revolt that led to the Romans destroying the Jewish temple in 70 AD.

But one of the sites also mentions something else — Jewish vestments — suggesting the Jews may have hidden some of the utensils from the Jewish temple before the Romans sacked it.

Or it could mark the location of something even more mysterious, because this wasn’t the first time Jews hid treasure from invading armies.

When King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem in 586 BC, the Book of Jeremiah lists the furniture and utensils the Babylonians stole from the temple (Jeremiah 52:17-23). One item not included in Jeremiah’s list was the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant — on which the very Presence of God sat.

Since the ark was the most important piece of furniture in the Temple, its omission was not an oversight as other lists describing the Babylonian plunder also do not include the ark (2 Kings 24:13, 2 Kings 25: 13-1).

This suggests the Jews hid the Ark of the Covenant sometime before Jerusalem fell.

BIN reports that in 2006 American Jim Barfield, a former criminal investigator, decided to use his skills to see if he could discover the locations from the clues provided in the scroll.

Barfield along with others who have worked on the map believe most of the sites are in an area called the Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This makes it politically complicated because it is in the West Bank — Palestinian territory.

Using the map, Barfield believes he discovered a location that mentions steps that were 20 meters (60 feet) long that ended at a pool of the same length. After finding steps and the pool that perfectly fit this description, in 2007 Barfield shared news of his discovery with the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA).

IAA was convinced enough to send in an archaeologist to dig at the site. However, Barfield says on the very day they started exploratory work, it was closed down with no explanation given.

Barfield believes they were near the spot mentioned in the second book of Maccabees that described how a group of men led by the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant in a cave before the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem. They then sealed the cave to hide its location:

Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense; then he sealed up the entrance. (2 Maccabees 2:5).

Though the book of Jeremiah does not mention the prophet smuggling the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem, it seems many Jews suspected he did. Obviously, if Jeremiah did hide the Ark, it would not be something he would broadcast in his writings.

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