The Real Ark of the Covenant May Have Housed Pagan Gods

The Real Ark of the Covenant May Have Housed Pagan Gods
The holy ark was likely kept in Jerusalem for much less time than the Bible tells us. And it may have contained something other than the Ten Commandments



The last time the Ark of the Covenant was supposedly seen was in Jerusalem, some 2,600 years ago.
Now archaeologists are exploring the ancient town of Kiriath Jearim, where the Bible says the ark was kept for 20 years before being taken to Jerusalem. Even if the excavators don’t expect to find the ark itself, and they don’t, they have made discoveries that shed new light on the history of the ancient Israelites and the birth of Judaism itself. Their finds also support theories that King David may not have been the one who moved the ark to Jerusalem.

According to the biblical tale, after the people of Israel bore the Ark of the Covenant through the desert and following Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, it was kept in the Tabernacle at Shiloh – and was then lost in a terrible battle to the Philistines. But God punished the Philistines with sickness and other plagues and they wisely returned their booty to the Israelites, who then settled the ark at Kiriath Jearim for 20 years.

From that point, until Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians, the ark strangely disappears from the biblical narrative. Nowhere does it figure in the exploits of the kings of Judah or Israel, points out Thomas Römer, a world-renowned expert in the Hebrew Bible and a professor at the College de France and the University of Lausanne.

That hasn’t stopped scholars and archaeologists from seeking out any clue about its true history. Maybe the ark’s enduring mystique lies in the fact that, according to the Bible, it contained the original stone tables of the Ten Commandments, and it had godly powers, which could rally the Israelite armies in battle or strike dead anyone who dared touch it or look inside it.
When they return daily to base camp, the archaeologists digging at Kiriath Jearim divide their finds into various baskets with labels like “glass,” “animal bones” or “small finds.” Just one basket remains inevitably empty: the one jokingly labeled “the ark.”
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