Monday, November 1, 2010

The Captivity

The Mystery of the Lost Ark: Part 4

Babylon conquered Assyria in 609 BC.  The Babylonians pillaged Solomon’s temple three times before ultimately destroying it.  Many believe the Ark was among the trophies taken from the temple and carried off to Babylon.   

Judah was a country between the borders of Babylon and Egypt.  Therefore, it was subjected to pressure from both of those superpowers.  Babylon demanded payments of tribute from its vassal states while Egypt coaxed them to refuse to pay their tributes and offered military assistance in the event of a Babylonian invasion to enforce its authority.

In 606 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, son of the king of Babylon, invaded Jerusalem.  Nebuchadnezzar deported the most intelligent, good-looking youths from Judah including the prophet Daniel and the miraculous Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  He also took some sacred vessels from the temple and put them in the house of his god.  Strangely enough, the Ark is not mentioned. 

In 605 BC, General Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon.  The newly crowned monarch again laid siege against Jerusalem in 597 BC.  He captured King Jehoiachin in the third month of his reign and led him into exile along with 10,000 others including the prophet Ezekiel, the bravest soldiers, and the tradesmen who were strong and fit for war.  He also ransacked the temple cutting into pieces all the golden vessels made by Solomon.  However, the Ark, constructed by Moses through the craftsmanship of Bezalel the goldsmith, is once again unmentioned.

The last and final siege was during the reign of Zedekiah who was installed as a vassal by Nebuchadnezzar after he deposed Jehoiachin. 

Pharaoh Psammetichus II visited Jerusalem in 593 BC after his conquest of ancient Ethiopia.  He employed Jewish mercenaries during his military triumph and over the next few years he and Zedekiah became friends.  The pharaoh persuaded Zedekiah to discontinue his payments to Babylon and offered the assistance of his mighty army in the event of a Babylonian invasion.  

In 588 BC, Nebuchadnezzar and his armies surrounded Jerusalem.  They besieged Jerusalem for a year and a half with a short hiatus for fear of the Egyptian army which intervened on Judah's behalf.  After finding Pharaoh's army to be no threat whatsoever, Nebuchadnezzar re-activated his siege wall around Jerusalem. 

As the Jews reached the point of starvation, their enemy breached the city's wall and Zedekiah and his army fled from Jerusalem.  The Babylonian army caught up with them on the plains of Jericho.  Judah's army scattered and Zedekiah was captured.  The ruthless Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons.  Then he plucked the king of Judah's eyes out of their sockets.  Thus Zedekiah's last horrific vision was indelibly etched in his memory while he was exiled in Babylon.

In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar's captain, Nebuzaradan, was sent to Jerusalem to destroy the city.  He and his army broke down the walls around Jerusalem and burned all the houses including the king's palace.  Before burning the temple of the Lord, they stripped it of anything and everything of value, including articles of gold, silver, and bronze.  But once again, no mention is made of the Ark.   

With the surprising revelation that the Ark was conspicuously absent from the list of temple articles carried off into Babylon, a tremendous mystery began to unravel.


  1. In 593 BC, ancient Ethiopia referred to the Kingdom of Nubia.

  2. 606 BC: 2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2
    597 BC: 2 Kings 24:13
    586 BC: 2 Kings 25:13-17; 2 Chronicles 36:18; Jeremiah 52:17-23

  3. Moses received the blueprint for the Ark: Exodus 25:9-22
    Bezalel the goldsmith: Exodus 35:30-33; 37:1-9

  4. Related article: click Babylon on the sidebar.