The Mystery of the Lost Ark: Part 3
David and Solomon ruled over a united kingdom, the core of which was the land of Palestine. The kingdom split in 933 BC following the reign of Solomon. The northern kingdom took the name Israel and the southern kingdom, the name Judah.
Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC by capturing its capital city of Samaria. In those days, Hezekiah was king of Judah. To guarantee Judah’s independence, Hezekiah paid Sennacherib, king of Assyria, a tribute.
In 701 BC, after Hezekiah refused to pay his tribute, Assyria attacked Judah. When Assyria’s general presented the king of Judah with a letter demanding his surrender, Hezekiah took the letter into the temple and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, “O Lord God of Israel, who dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent to reproach the living God. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.” (This quotation, taken from the King James Bible, is an indirect reference to the Ark of the Covenant. It is the first of three post-Solomonic references to the Ark.)
That night the angel of the Lord visited the Assyrian camp and slew 185,000 soldiers. Sennacherib returned to Ninevah where he was subsequently murdered by two of his sons.
Josiah came to the throne of Judah about 640 BC. The temple had been sadly neglected by his two predecessors. He was determined to return his subjects to the worship of the Lord their God.
In 623 BC, he hired workmen to repair the damage to the temple. Previously, the Levites had removed the Ark from the desecrated and dilapidated house of God. After the repairs were completed, Josiah told the priests, “Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it will be a burden on your shoulders no longer. Now serve the Lord your God and His people Israel.” (This is the second post-Solomonic reference to the Ark of the Covenant. The New American Standard Bible goes on to say that Josiah was successful in his bid to set the temple in order. Surely, the single, most important element in an orderly temple was returning the Ark to the Holy of Holies.)
Then in 608 BC, Jeremiah proclaimed a prophecy concerning Jerusalem and its temple. Thus says the Lord, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law, which I have set before you, to listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.” And the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord.
And when Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, they seized him, saying, “You must die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord saying, ‘This house will be like Shiloh, and this city will be desolate, without inhabitant’?” (This is an indirect reference to the Ark of the Covenant, the third post-Solomonic reference to the Ark. The culmination of the Shiloh tragedy, five centuries earlier, was the loss of the Ark of the Covenant. In order for the Ark to be removed from the temple, at the time of Jeremiah, it had to be located in the temple to begin with.)
These three post-Solomonic references prove that the Ark was in Jerusalem between 701 and 608 BC.