Does an ancient Hebrew treatise reveal the ‘doom’ of the Ark of the Covenant?

Ancient_Text_Hebrew_Ark_Of_The_Covenant_1Carrying the Ark of the Covenant: gilded bas-relief at the Auch Cathedral.

Last month we showcased the (what if) 3D reconstruction of the Solomon’s Temple in accordance to its Biblical measurements. Now beyond its religious status as the grand First Jewish Temple built on the Temple Mount, Solomon’s Temple is also known for its housing of the fabled Ark of the Covenant. This naturally brings us the million-dollar question – what exactly was the Ark of the Covenant? Well as literary sources mention, the legendary artifact was possibly a gold-plated chest that stored the sacred tablets containing the original Ten Commandments. But as every Indiana Jones fan worth his salt would know, the Ark is elusive (or perhaps even ‘illusory’) – and as such is still lost to the researchers of our modern age. But an ancient Hebrew text translated in 2013, might provide some (possibly fancy) insights into the whereabouts and status of this puzzling artifact, along with the other treasures of King Solomon – who was said to be the richest man of his time in Biblical sources.

The ancient treatise in question here is known as the Massekhet Kelim (‘Treatise of the Vessels’), and one of its very first ‘modern’ reproductions was found in the Hebrew book Emek Halchah, a tome published in Amsterdam in way back in 1648 AD. It was followed by another almost-identical publishing endeavor in 1876. But it was only in 2013 that James Davila, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, translated the ancient text for the first time in English.

Now according to the researcher, the narrative of the Massekhet Kelim closely follows the pattern of the ‘Copper Scroll’, one of the written specimens from the collection of the well-known Dead Sea scrolls. The similarity starts with how both of the ancient sources refer to the precious gold and silver objects of Solomon as ‘vessels’, while also mentioning how all the treasures (including the Ark of the Covenant) of the King were recorded and documented on some bronze tablet.

The first volume of this translated text talks about how the prophets took upon the responsibility of hiding the various treasures in locations not only limited to Israel but also hidden places in Babylonia. The latter mentioned tidbit is certainly interesting, since according to the Hebrew Bible, it was the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II who supposedly plundered and burned the Solomon’s temple in the 6th century BC. But in any case, the narrative soon dives into a nigh imaginative tone as it mentions how other treasures were also hid by chosen angels like Shamshiel, Michael and Gabriel.


The legendary throne of King Solomon.

The treatise additionally talks about the fabled wealth of King Solomon, and seemingly takes the ‘fantastical’ route by describing how his seventy-seven tables (or objects) of gold were derived from the walls that surrounded the Garden of Eden. And since we are talking about the scope of wealth, the Hebrew bible clearly states that Solomon (or Jedidiah in Hebrew) was the richest person than any man who came before him. Apocryphal sources also mentioned how Solomon reigned nearly for 40 years, and every year he received tributes of 25 tons of gold – which alone equates to a wondrous sum of $64.3 billion in current monetary value!

Literary sources also talk about a myriad of other incomes too – including businesses, trade and additional annual tributes being apparently paid to Solomon from the neighboring realms of Arabia and Levant. The ritzy quotient supposedly allowed most of his palace items to be created from gold – which reportedly even led to devaluing of other precious stuff like silver and cedar wood. And perhaps King Solomon’s legendary throne epitomized such unparalleled opulence – with its pure gold coating and ivory inlays, along with twelve lion statues and even a mere foot stool entirely crafted from solid gold. Lastly, as for the actual ancient treatise, historians still continue to analyse the Massekhet Kelim and its various copies made over the years.

Via: History Channel

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