The divine ark was likely kept in Jerusalem because that much much less time than the bible tells us. And it may have contained something other than the Ten Commandments


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Now excavators are trying out the old town of Kiriath Jearim, wherein the scriptures says the ark was retained for 20 years before being taken to Jerusalem. Also if the excavators don’t mean to discover the ark itself, and they don't, they have actually made discoveries that shed new light ~ above the history of the ancient Israelites and the birth of Judaism itself. Their finds also support theories the King David may not have actually been the one who relocated the ark to Jerusalem.

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According to the biblical tale, after ~ the people of Israel boring the Ark that the agreement through the desert and also following Joshua’s occupation of Canaan, the was retained in the Tabernacle at Shiloh – and also was then lost in a terrible fight to the Philistines. However God punished the Philistines through sickness and also other plagues and also they wisely went back their booty come the Israelites, that then settled the ark at Kiriath Jearim because that 20 years.


Then, go the story, King David took it to Jerusalem to be housed very first in a tent, and also later in King Solomon’s Temple.


Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein (second from left) inspecting continues to be of a substantial retaining wall that may have supported a temple at Kiriath Jearim. The smaller stones atop space a later repair.Credit: Ariel David
From that point, till Jerusalem's damage by the Babylonians, the ark strange disappears from the biblical narrative. Nowhere does it figure in the exploits that the monarchs of Judah or Israel, clues out thomas Römer, a world-renowned skilled in the Hebrew Bible and also a professor in ~ the university de France and also the university of Lausanne.


That hasn't quit scholars and archaeologists native seeking out any kind of clue about its true history. Probably the ark's enduring mystique lies in the reality that, according to the Bible, it consisted of the original rock tables the the Ten Commandments, and it had actually godly powers, which might rally the Israelite armies in fight or win dead anyone who dared touch that or look inside it.


When lock return everyday to base camp, the archaeologists digging at Kiriath Jearim division their finds into various baskets through labels prefer “glass,” “animal bones” or “small finds.” simply one basket stays inevitably empty: the one jokingly labeled “the ark.”


At the Kiriath Jearim excavation: That very first basket is not supposed to it is in filled.Credit: Ariel David
No, no one expects to find any trace the the elusive ark in the damages of this ancient Israelite settlement.


“I am not interested in the historicity of the Ark Narrative. I want to know what’s behind it, what it speak us about the background of Judah and Israel, that the cult that the God of Israel and also the holy place in Jerusalem,” says excavator Israel Finkelstein that Tel Aviv University, that has performed digs in ~ two places said to have actually housed the ark: in ~ Shiloh, phibìc of Jerusalem, ago in the 1980s, and also this month at Kiriath Jearim, in a joint task with the university de France.


Many Biblical scholar think the story that the ark to be a different text, the so-called “Ark Narrative,” dating from about the 8 hours century B.C.E., which to be later integrated into the biblical texts, in the publications of Samuel, possibly just prior to the exile to Babylon.


Map mirroring the trek the the Ark: from Shiloh come Philistia, come Kiriath Jearim, come Jerusalem. Credit: silverlakestyle.com
The story in 2 Samuel 6 about how David lugged the ark to Jerusalem is actually a later tradition the was tacked onto the initial Ark Narrative, i m sorry initially finished with its come in Kiriath Jearim, Römer suspects.


It has long to be forgotten that wrote "the Bible": different parts were clearly written in various times by various people, over hundreds and hundreds of years. Yet the Davidic or Solomonic texts space not thought to have originated in their very own time, just centuries later.


Also, while over there is still controversy over the historicity of numbers like David and Solomon, most scholars agree that there is little archaeological proof for the large, joined Israelite kingdom in the 10th century explained in the Bible.


The biblical messages that recount this glorious empire and Solomon’s building of the temple seem to have actually originated native the so late 7th century B.C.E., during King Josiah, about three centuries after the claimed Davidic era, Römer says.


Josiah was the Judean king well-known for widening the borders of Judah and also centralizing the worship of Yahweh at the temple in Jerusalem when stamping out all other cults.

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“It is feasible that the ark remained much much longer at Kiriath Jearim, and it was just Josiah who lugged it to Jerusalem when he wanted to centralize every cultic and political activity there, and his scribes justification it by composing the story about David taking the ark,” Römer postulates. “This might explain why there room no an ext stories around it,” since after Josiah’s reign (640-609 B.C.E.) Judah would survive less than three decades before falling come the Babylonians.


The bible itself, in what may have been one editorial slipup, appears to confirm Josiah's role in bringing the ark to Jerusalem. The is he, not David, who tells the Levites in 2 Chronicles 35:3 to “put the divine ark in the house that Solomon the son of David, king the Israel, built. You need not bring it on her shoulders."