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The Glory is departed from Israel

Lucky Luciano
2019-12-03 12:15:25

My article today continues what I began in yesterdays post concerning the Ark of the Covenant.


until the time of Solomon (970-931 BC), there are more than two hundred references to the Ark in the Bible. After the reign of that wise and splendid king it is almost never mentioned again.

At some unknown date between the tenth and the sixth century BC this uniquely precious and puissant object vanished from its place in the Holy of Holies of the Temple without song or lamentation in the Scriptures – almost as though it had never existed.

Between the years 955 BC down to the sack of the city by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC, Jerusalem and the Temple had been at the center of an enormously complex series of events. Although these events were described at great length in several books of the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant was hardly mentioned. During this period Israel suffered several military catastrophes after the death of Solomon.

The first of these occurred in 926 B.C. during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. According to the first book of Kings; “Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the kings house…” It is not mentioned that Shishak’s booty included the Ark of the Covenant.

The next occasion when the Temple was looted was in 796 BC when Jehoash, the ruler of the Northern Kingdom, joined battle with his Judean counterpart Amaziah at Bethshemesh; “And Jehoash king of Israel…came to Jerusalem and brake down the wall…And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord”.

Again it is not mentioned that what was taken from the Temple included the Ark of the Covenant. Some leading authorities speculate that in these campaigns when the Temple treasures were looted, the Holy of Holies in which the sacred relic was kept was not defiled.

The same could not be said for Jerusalem’s next and greatest invader, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He attacked and occupied the holy city not once but twice, first in 598 BC and again in 587 BC. On the second occasion, he razed the city to the ground including the Temple and carried away not only the Temple treasures, but also sent into exile a large number of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The trauma of the banishment, the humiliation of the captivity and the firm resolve of the Israelites that Jerusalem should never be forgotten, were soon to be immortalized in one of the most poignant and evocative pieces of poetry in the Old Testament, which was popularized in a song by the pop group Bonny M in the 1970’s:

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept, when we remembered Zion. For they that carried us away captive required of us a song saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”?

It was the normal practice of the Babylonians at this time to seize the principal idols of the people they had conquered and to transport them back to Babylon to place in their own temple before the statue of their god Marduk. The Ark would have been an ideal candidate for this sort of treatment. A detailed inventory is offered in the Bible of all the objects and treasures broken up and carried off to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar’s capture and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem.

Significantly, the Ark of the Covenant is not included. Also, after the Jewish captives in Babylon were freed on the orders of Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia who had meanwhile crushed Babylon in 539 BC, all the treasures that Nebuchadnezzar had seized from the house of Yahweh were handed over to the Israelites by the Persians. Here again, although the Old Testament gives a detailed inventory of what was returned, the Ark is not mentioned.

It can therefore be concluded that at the time of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians the Ark of the Covenant was no more in the Holy of Holies. The big question is “when exactly did it disappear and why?”

Let's find out tomorrow.

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12-03 17:15