According to Europe External Programme with Africa, a Belgium NGO, the Maryam Tsiyon Church in Axum, Ethiopia was recently attacked by a group made up of soldiers with the Ethiopian army and members of the militant Amhara militia who slaughtered 750 members of the congregation.
Amhara is a brutal terrorist organization that has been responsible for several massacres in Ethiopia in recent years.
Several eyewitnesses reported at least a thousand people were hiding inside the church when the armed group arrived. Hundreds of people were dragged from the cathedral and shot.
For decades, the overseers of the Maryam Tsiyon, also referred to as the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, have claimed that they have the Jewish Ark of the Covenant.
Apparently, members of the congregation went to the church believing the militia intended to steal the Ark. But reports suggest the leaders of the church had hidden the ark before the militants arrived.
The Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Chapel of Tablet beside the main Cathedral and only one of the church’s priests has access to it. There have been several attempts by people outside the church to view the ark, but no one has been allowed to verify its existence.
According to the Biblical record, the Ark of the Covenant disappeared when the Babylonian’s sacked Jerusalem destroying the Temple in 586 BC. Several verses cited what the invaders stole from the Temple and its most important piece of furniture, the Ark of the Covenant, is not mentioned in any of those lists (2 Kings 25:13-18).
And, the Ark of the Covenant hasn’t been seen since.
Some suspect that the Temple priests hid the Ark in the caverns beneath the temple mount before the Babylonians breached the walls. But the record of where it was hidden disappeared after many of the priests were taken into captivity and/or killed during the siege (2 Kings 25: 18-21).
So where did the theory originate that the church in Axum has the Ark of the Covenant?
According to Ethiopian Orthodox Church tradition, the ark was apparently taken to Axum by Menelik I, the son of King Solomon.
But if you search the Bible you will find no mention of Menelik and that is because Ethiopian tradition states he was son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. According to the Biblical record, she was a very wealthy Queen who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 9), and according to Ethiopian tradition she returned to her homeland pregnant.
Sheba subsequently raised her son, Menelik, in the Jewish faith who went on to start what became known as the Solomonic dynasty in Ethiopia. At one point Menelik returned to Israel to visit his father and King Solomon reportedly gave him the Ark of the Covenant as a gift.
So, could Menelik be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba? Well, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3), so it is possible. And it may explain why there is a large Black Jewish population in Ethiopia.
But the Biblical record differs in one important aspect. The last mention of the Ark of the Covenant is found in 2 Chronicles 35:1–6, when King Josiah asked the Levites to return the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. So, nearly 300 years after King Solomon’s death, the ark is still in Jerusalem.
If the Ethiopian Church has the Ark of the Covenant, it is slightly suspicious that they won’t let outsiders look at it? Nevertheless, I suspect they probably have something inside the chapel, but it would not be the original Ark.