One of the biggest mysteries in history that has continued to have enduring appeal is the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant in Israel. Even one of the most popular movie franchises in history, Indiana Jones, began by following an adventure looking for it. There are many theories as to what happened to the Ark of the Covenant in Israel when it disappeared, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is what the Bible says about the Ark of the Covenant in Israel.
What Was the Ark of the Covenant?
The Ark of the Covenant was the vessel that carried the Ten Commandments. There was God specified exactly what the vessel should look like and be made from to Moses when he ascended Mt. Sinai in Exodus 25:10-22
“Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you.
“Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”
This ark was where God held presence and dwelled with the Israelites. It was so powerfully endowed with God’s presence that it was deadly for anyone to touch it. The Philistines once stole the Ark and it was such a menace to them, they returned it to relieve themselves of the plagues it caused them, with offerings (1 Samuel 6). The ark again disappeared, and has never been confirmed to be found since the 6th century B.C.
The Holy of Holies in the Second Temple did not contain the Ark of the Covenant.
Where Has the Ark of the Covenant Been?
While we don’t know where the Ark of the Covenant is, we do know where it has been according to the Bible! Here are places in Israel that the Ark of the Covenant has been and you can visit!
According to Joshua 6:1-27, the Israelites circled the city of Jericho carrying the Ark of the Covenant once a day for six days and then on the seventh day marched seven times and then, with a great shout, made the walls come tumbling down.
Today you can visit Jericho, the oldest city in the world and see debris from the ancient city of when the wall fell.
For nearly 400 years, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle resided at Shiloh, which is in what is now referred to as the West Bank. This is where Hannah said her prayer for a child and where that child, Samuel served and learned under the High Priest, Eli. Samuel then became a prophet, leader and was a Kingmaker of Saul and David.
Today, Shiloh is one of the most prolific archeological sites in Israel. There is a fantastic visitors center there and you can see where the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant resided. You can even walk in dwellings that were used in the time. There is one that was quite large and was closest to the Tabernacle and the storage center for the Tabernacle. Could this have been the dwelling of the High Priest and where Samuel heard God speak to him? You will have to visit and consider that question for yourself!
After the time of Shiloh, King Solomon, the son of King David, built a Temple in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah. Here, the Ark of the Covenant was housed in the Holy of Holies, a permanent rendition of the previous Tabernacle. There the Ark of the Covenant resided until it disappeared. Some believe that it is possibly still hidden somewhere on the Mount, but due to the possession by the Islamic faith, it is impossible to explore.
You can visit the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall and the underground tunnels and be close to the Holy of Holies where the Ark, and God’s presence, dwelled.
The Jordan River is very important to the Judeo-Christian history for a variety of reasons including being where the Israelites passed over to enter the Promised Land. In Joshua 3 it says that they camped out before crossing the river. Aaron told those carrying the ark to cross ahead of everyone else. When they came to cross the river, waters stopped upstream and they were able to cross the river on dry land.
You can visit the Jordan River in the general area today, which is also the area where Jesus was baptized and where Elijah was taken up into the sky. What a place to visit!
We look forward to planning a tour for you to enjoy the entire history of the Jewish people! Contact us today to plan your Christian Holy Land Tour!