Monday, November 1, 2010

Guardian of Glory


The Mystery of the Lost Ark: Part 5

The prophet Jeremiah foretold of the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of the temple.  Therefore, the kings of Judah viewed him as a traitor.  He was looked upon with contempt because of his treacherous prophecies.  When he predicted that the Lord would make His temple in Jerusalem like Shiloh, the multitude wanted to execute him.  However, he was rescued by his close friend, the influential Ahikam. 

Labelled an insurrectionist, Jeremiah was banned from entering the temple and inciting the people.  King Zedekiah attempted to quell the effervescent Jeremiah by sentencing him to terms in the court of the guardhouse.  This was not a prison but rather a form of confinement, located within the walls of the palace, with many liberties including fresh air and the company of the palace guards who rested in the guardhouse between their watches and brought news from the outside world. 

Nevertheless Jeremiah was the Lord's prophet.  He was also a Levite.  He was divinely instructed to care for the Ark lest it fall into the hands of the Babylonians.  When his father was high priest, he was captain of the temple guard.  Jeremiah knew that when Solomon built the temple he foresaw its destruction and constructed a deep cave under the temple woodshed.  He also knew that the high priest hid the Ark in that secret cave below Mount Moriah whenever Jerusalem came under siege. 

But the temple priests were afraid of their conquerors.  Would Seraiah the chief priest trade the Ark in exchange for his life?  Divine guidance dictated that Jeremiah move the Ark to a completely clandestine location.  But how?  He was constantly watched both in and out of the court of the guardhouse.

However, a window of opportunity was presenting itself.  With the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls, Babylon had totally annihilated Judah.  Only the abject poor remained.  Everyone else had been deported to Babylon or had scattered in fear for their lives. 

Nebuzaradan released Jeremiah from the court of the guardhouse and gave him his freedom.  He even entrusted him to Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor of Judah.  That same Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam who rescued him from certain death as a result of his Shiloh prophecy.  Gedaliah would help him move the Ark. 

So Jeremiah, with the aid of the governor, transported the Ark from its hiding place beneath the woodshed to Mount Nebo, some thirty miles due east of Jerusalem.  He lodged it in a huge, hollow cave and stopped the entrance. 

Friends of Jeremiah followed him and thought they had marked the surreptitious site but when they returned, they couldn't find it.  When Jeremiah learned of their dastardly deed, he rebuked them saying, “The hiding place must remain a secret until God gathers His people together again.”

1 comment:

  1. A baraita quoted by Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah: “when Solomon built the Temple he foresaw its destruction and built a deep secret cave where Josiah ordered the Ark to be hidden.” (Hilkhot Beit Ha-Behirah 4:1)

    Talmud: “And where was the additional prostration? In front of the store of wood, for thus they had a tradition from their forefathers that the Ark was hidden there. Once it happened that a certain priest who was busy there noticed that the pavement was different there from the others. He went and told it to his fellow, but before he had time to finish his words his soul departed. Then it became known of a surety that the Ark was hidden there.” (Shekalim 6:1-2)

    Talmud: “It was taught that the Ark was hidden away in the Chamber of the wood-shed. It happened to a certain priest who was whiling away his time that he saw a block of pavement that was different from the others. He came and informed his fellow, but before he could complete his account, his soul departed. Thus they knew definitely that the Ark was hidden there. What had he been doing? He was playing with his axe. Two priests, afflicted with a blemish, were sorting the woods when the axe of one of them slipped from his hand and fell on that place, whereupon a flame burst forth and consumed him.” (Yoma 54a)

    Good News Bible: “These same records also tell us that Jeremiah, acting under divine guidance, commanded that the tabernacle and the Ark follow him to the mountain where Moses had looked down on the land which God had promised our people. When Jeremiah got to the mountain, he found a huge cave and there he hid the tabernacle, the Ark, and the altar of incense. Then he sealed up the entrance. Some of Jeremiah's friends tried to follow him and mark the way, but they could not find the cave. When Jeremiah learnt what they had done, he reprimanded them, saying, ‘No one must know about this place until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy.’” (2 Maccabees 2:4-7)

    NAS: “Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land...” (Deuteronomy 34:1)