Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main, z124, z137
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Have archaeologists found the site where the Ark of the Covenant once sat at Kiriath-Jearim?

An image from the Morgan Bible (1240AD) of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant where he set up the Tabernacle of David. Credit: Wikipedia

An image from the Morgan Bible (1240AD) of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant where he set up the Tabernacle of David. Credit: Wikipedia

The Times of Israel is reporting archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and College de Franc may have found the site where Israel’s Ark of the Covenant once sat at Kiriath-Jearim.

Located on a hill near the Israeli-Arab town of Abu Ghosh in central Israel, Kiriath-Jearim was the site where the Ark of the Covenant sat before King David transported it to Jerusalem and set up in what is was referred to as the Tabernacle of David (1 Chronicles 13:5-8, Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16).

The Ark of the Covenant initially sat inside the Tabernacle of Moses set up at Shiloh. However, it was lost when the priests carried the ark into battle against the Philistines, who then captured the Ark. After a series of mishaps, the Philistines returned the Ark to Israel allowing it to be carried on a cart pulled by oxen.

Unguided, the oxen brought the Ark to Beth Shemesh. However, when 70 residents of the town were killed after opening the chest to look inside, the residents of the town sent a message to the elders of Kiriath-Jearim asking them to take it (1 Samuel 6:19-21). They agreed and the Ark stayed at Kiriath-Jearim for about 20 years (1 Samuel 7:2).

Covered in gold plate, the Bible says that the Ark of the Covenant was a small chest with two golden Cherubim on top. Inside the ark was the Ten Commandments and God’s Presence rested upon the top of the Ark between the Cherubim.

But as they were digging through the ancient remains of Kiriath-Jearim, the archaeological team discovered beneath the grounds of a Roman Catholic convent an elevated platform that was 150 meters (164 yards) long by 110 meters (120 yards) wide that covered an area of 1.65 hectares or nearly four acres in size. As well the area had walls surrounding it that were three meters thick (about 10′) and two meters high (about 7′).

The Israelis had undoubtedly built the platform for some type of shrine and this is where it gets interesting, because the archaeological team that made the discovery was not looking for evidence of the Ark of the Covenant because it was being co-led by an archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein, who does not believe the ark ever existed.

He believes the Ark of the Covenant was a myth created at the time to unite Israel.

Since this site was undoubtedly intended for some type of shrine, Finkelstein was left in the awkward position of trying to explain its existence. He did this by suggesting the people of Kiriath-Jearim built this massive structure to essentially continue on the charade of the Ark of the Covenant and to establish Kiriath-Jearim as a major religious and administrative site.

However, why would they spend the time and resources to build this massive structure that was more than double the size of a NFL football field that is only 120 yards long by 53 yards wide and not bother to build the Ark of the Covenant?

They would have needed hundreds of people to haul in the rock, carve the stone, and construct the platform and stone wall. It would have taken months to build.

Why would they go through all that work and not bother to build a small Ark of the Covenant (about 4′ by 3′), which in comparison would be a minor task involving maybe one or two craftsmen and probably two or three weeks, depending on how much time was needed to make the cherubim?

It doesn’t make sense.

Is archaeology allowing ideology to interpret the facts, rather than allowing the facts to determine ideology?

Many archaeologists, such as Scott Stripling, have no doubt the Ark of the Covenant existed and have found the Bible to be a “very reliable” source of information when it comes to archaeological work.


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