Bible archeologists believe they have uncovered strong evidence that the Ark of the Covenant, dating back to the time of Moses, may have been removed from ancient Israel and taken to northern Africa, where it now resides in a remote church.
The Ark, as described in the book of Exodus, is made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold.
Two cherubim (angels), also made of gold, rest atop it and their wings cover the “mercy seat.”
Two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, and his brother Aaron’s rod are inside the artifact.
Aaron was the high priest over all of Israel whose rod miraculously sprouted buds that produced blossoms, yielding ripe almonds, as recorded in the book of Numbers.
Fox News reported, “Since it vanished there have been several theories as to where the Ark is now, including Mount Nebo in (Jordan), southern Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt and even several locations in Europe.”
However, the Bible Archaeology, Search & Exploration Institute has unearthed new evidence that places the focus on Ethiopia.
“As unusual as this may sound, the BASE team has uncovered compelling evidence that the Ark may well have been spirited up the Nile River to an eventual resting place in the remote highlands of ancient Kush — modern-day Ethiopia,” the organization said in a blog post.
Christian monks have long claimed the Ark is being kept underguard at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in the town of Axum, in northern Ethiopia.
BASE said, “The last known reference alluding to the Ark’s presence in the Temple dates from 701 B.C., when the Assyrian king Sennacherib surrounded Hezekiah’s forces in Jerusalem.”
The Bible’s book of Isaiah says, “And Hezekiah received the (threatening) letter (from Sennacherib) from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying: ‘O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim…'”
Hezekiah’s reference of the cherubim appears to be in relation to the mercy seat on the Ark, seemingly confirming that it was still located in the Temple’s Holy of Holies in 701 B.C.
BASE believes the Ark was removed from the Temple during the reign of Hezekiah’s successor Manasseh, who the Bible describes as a debased king who placed pagan idols in the Holy of Holies.
The group discovered evidence that a group of Levitical priests left Israel during Manasseh’s reign and founded a colony on Elephantine Island on the Nile River, deep in the heart of Egypt. On the island, BASE archeologists located the ruins of a replica of Solomon’s Temple, which precisely matched its dimensions.
The researchers contend it would have been pointless to build such a replica without it serving the primary function of housing the Ark.
Additionally, they uncovered documents seeming to confirm the existence of a Jewish temple at Elephantine. That temple was eventually destroyed.
From there, BASE determined the Ark was likely “taken down the Nile to Lake Tana in Ethiopia and in particular Tana Kirkos Island, which is considered to be a holy island only populated by Christian monks.”
“(F)or centuries of Ethiopian history, there has existed strong tradition and legend that the Ark of the Covenant did indeed find its final resting place in Ethiopia,” the organization said.
There are connections between Moses and Ethiopia, which may have influenced his descendants to take the Ark there for refuge. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus chronicles that Moses led Egyptian forces to victory in a battle in Ethiopia, and the Bible records he married an Ethiopian wife.
Monks on the remote Tana Kirkos Island showed the BASE archeologists artifacts they said were used as part of the ritual animal sacrifices involving the Ark.
The men also explained by oral tradition, the Ark was taken from Tana Kirkos to Axum in northern Ethiopia, where it is now housed in St. Mary’s of Zion church. The congregation at the location dates back to approximately 370 A.D.
In Axum, the researchers met and spoke with the Guardian of the Ark, who explained he is the only one currently permitted to see the holy object.
However, he did show them two trumpets, which bore a striking resemblance to those pictured in ancient Roman artwork, commemorating that nation’s conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
“Trumpets like these were an essential part of the implements used in Temple worship,” according to BASE.
The group’s archeologists were also able to interview a 105-year-old priest who was once the administrator of St. Mary’s of Zion, who described the Ark in detail.
The researchers concluded, “St. Mary’s of Zion church in Axum, Ethiopia, is the resting place either of an incredible replica of the biblical Ark of the Covenant, or, of the actual Ark of the Covenant itself.”
As one final point of interest, BASE pointed to the book of Isaiah 18, which relates to Ethiopia.
The prophetic passage of scripture speaks of the Messiah’s return and triumph over the armies of the world. Verse 7 of the book says, “In that time a present will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and smooth of skin (Ethiopians, according to verse 1) … to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion.”
In light of the passage, the BASE researchers asked, “What might the present be that is brought from Ethiopia to the ‘place of the name of the Lord’ — to the Holy of Holies? Only the future will tell…”
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