The Ark

The Ark of the Covenant whatever it may or may not have been has exercised fascination for thousands of years. I remember finding a postcard picture of it in a metal box my grandfather left, some sixty years after he died. It must have meant something to him. My father always had an ornament on the mantelpiece based upon it. Books have been written about it and finding it and films based upon it – Raiders of the Lost Ark for example.

angel detail

My father’s ark!

The only record of it is in the bible and was written hundreds, almost a thousand, years after the Exodus it narrates. But from that detailed description we know what it looked like, its size and that it was made after the Israelites had left Egypt to contain the Ten Commandments. The Egyptian link is particularly relevant. This week it is revealed that the search for it will take off again:

“Hunt for REAL 10 Commandments: Archaeologists in groundbreaking search for Bible chest

A TEAM of archaeologists are preparing for an Indiana Jones-like expedition as they go in search of a box mentioned in the Bible but yet to be found.

By Sean Martin

PUBLISHED: 13:27, Mon, Feb 13, 2017

Archaeologists are searching one of the tallest hills in Jerusalem in the hope of finding the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered wooden chest which is said to contain the two stone tablets which have the Ten Commandments inscribed on them, as mentioned in the Book of Exodus.

The Bible touts the Kiriath-Jearim in western Jerusalem as a possible place for the Ark, as well as a temple to a Hebrew God known as Baal.

The researchers are hopeful they will find what they are looking for as in 1905, a local farmer stumbled upon a Byzantine place of worship on the hill, leading the archaeologists to believe that their search will yield results.”

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/766700/REAL-10-Commandments-Archaeologists-Bible-chest

So I thought I would publish here my research into this and hope not to cause offence to anyone by doing so.

The bible says that the ark was a wooden box made from acacia with rings affixed to its sides through which poles could be passed enabling it to be carried. Its lid was gold plated, or possibly solid gold and above it were the representations of two angels whose wings covered it. A tent, called a tabernacle, was also carefully made to house the structure.

Exodus 25:10-22New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Ark of the Covenant

10 “They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it. 12 You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it. 16 You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. 18 You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. 21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”

It had a curious history and was stolen by another tribe at one point. Eventually it disappeared. The Exodus is dated at various times by different people but

Attempts to date the Exodus to a specific century have been inconclusive. 1 Kings 6:1 places the event 480 years before the construction of Solomon’s Temple, implying an Exodus at c.1446 BCE, but it is widely recognised that the number in 1 Kings merely represents twelve generations of forty years each.” Wikipedia

The 18th Dynasty in Egypt spanned the period 1500BC to 1300BC and so it would be placed during this dynasty. I have written before about the fact that the Pharaohs Tuthmosis 1,2 & 3 and the powerful female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who was the daughter of T1, married to T2 and regent for T3, seem the likely candidates for the Pharaoh of the Exodus although there is no mention of such a thing in the Egyptian records of that time. However it is true that these pharaohs employed bowmen mercenaries they described as ‘Asiatics’, possibly from Iraq like Abraham, and called the Habiru to garrison and guard the territories they had conquered from Syria in the north to Iraq in the south and which included the entire land of Israel as we know it.

The only complete tomb we have of this time is in the Valley of the Kings and is that of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It is likely that it followed a pattern set by the early pharaohs whose tombs were robbed. I am showing here some photographs taken from the catalogue for the Tutankhamun Exhibition created by the keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum. You will not how similar these are to the ark described above:

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Details of the Egyptian tabernacle that once housed the famous gold sarcophagi

Certainly it seems likely that there is a connection and although millions if nota billion or two regard the Bible as a document written by God himself I again point out that the scribes who transcribed what we have now were describing something from long before their lifetimes. The craftsmen who made the treasures of Tutankhamen would almost certainly have passed down the details but is it possible that the ark described was in fact taken from one of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings? What do you think?

One other possibly significant matter concerns the Ten Commandments themselves. The Bible tells how Moses went up into a mountain in Sinai to collect the two stone tablets upon which the commandments were written. When he came down again he found that the Hebrews had made a golden calf by melting down their jewellery. He was furious and broke the tablets but relented and went back up for more.

In Sinai is a mountain called Serabit el-Khadim and here are the turquoise mines dedicated to the goddess Hathor often depicted as a cow or indeed golden cow. These mines were run by the Egyptians but employed a large number of Canaanites and here were found by Flinders Petrie and his wife a stone carved script that is called Proto-Sinaitic and is the link between Egyptian hieroglyphs and Paleo-Hebrew, Aramaic and Phoenician also Greek and Italian. In essence here was the first ever ‘Hebrew’ or Habiru  writing which is dated at the latest to 1550BC.

You can see them here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Sinaitic_script

Is this where these tablets were written? Such thinking is not popular to put it mildly.

 

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