[b-hebrew] Stone slab replacing the Ark of the Covenant

Stephen Segall segall at umich.edu
Tue Aug 2 15:21:42 EDT 2005

What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? After the death of King Solomon 
his son Rehoboam became king. The 10 northern tribes revolted against 
Rehoboam and formed their own separate kingdom. Rehoboam's troops refused 
to fight against their fellow Israelites, so Rehoboam was left with a 
small fraction of the population and a fraction of the land of Solomon's 
original kingdom.

This was a tempting target for the king of Egypt who attacked and overran 
the truncated Kingdom of Judah. To prevent a siege of Jerusalem, Rehoboam 
agreed to let the Egyptians loot Jerusalem and leave without a fight. This 
Egyptian victory was commemorated on a temple wall at Karnak. The wall 
carving shows Egyptian soldiers carrying away the Ark of the Covenant.

While some may argue that just because the ark being taken away by the 
Egyptians exactly matches the Ark described in the Torah, it might just be 
a chest with carrying rails. This is highly unlikely, since the magnitude 
of the Egyptian victory could best be demonstrated by showing that they 
were carrying off the Judeans most prize possession. It is like saying 
that the menorah being carried away by Roman soldiers on the arch of Titus 
could have been any menorah and not the one from the Second Temple.

Rehoboam and the Temple priests tried to hide the loss of the Ark from the 
population, since admitting the Egyptians had taken the Ark was tantamount 
to admitting that God had abandoned the Kingdom of Judah. The secret could 
be kept for generations since only the Hign Priest was allowed to enter 
the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

The phrase in the Book of Kings about Josiah ordering the Levites to 
return the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple appears to be an 
embellishment to the story of the Passover celebration ordered by Josiah, 
since no action was taken to execute this command.

On Tue, 2 Aug 2005, Alexander Oldernes wrote:

> Maybe your expertise can help me with this question...
> I have read somewhere that when the curtain covering the entrance to the
> Most Holy was torn in two, in the first century CE, the Most Holy was
> exposed containing no Ark of the Covenant. In place of the Ark was a stone
> slab upon which the high priest sprinkled the blood on the Day of Atonement.
> I know the last mention of the Ark of the Covenant is in 2. Chronicles 35:5,
> saying:
> He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been
> consecrated to YHWH: "Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of
> David king of Israel built. It is not to be carried about on your
> shoulders."
> This happened around 642 (?) BCE.
> And now the question...
> Do we know that the Ark of the Covenant was replaced by a stone slab?
> If so...
> Who writes about it?
> Do we know when this was done?
> Do we know what the stone slab looked like?
> ----
> Alexander Oldernes
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