Monday, November 1, 2010


The Mystery of the Lost Ark: Part 1

The Ark of the Covenant was the physical embodiment of God’s presence on earth.  Treasure hunters have been searching for the holiest of holy objects for well over two millenniums.

The lid of the Ark was crafted from one, solid piece of pure gold fashioned into a cherub at each of its ends, one cherub with the face of a male child and the other with the face of a female child.  Between the cherubim was the mercy seat, a hands width in thickness.  The cherubim were facing each other with their wings spread upward overshadowing the mercy seat.  The dazzling light of God’s presence dwelled in a cloud above the mercy seat and between the two cherubim.

The Lord spoke to Moses saying, “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”          

Moses and his brother, Aaron, were from the tribe of Levi.  God chose Aaron and his descendants to minister as priests before the Ark of the Covenant.  They were called Levites or Levitical priests.  

After the death of Moses and the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua and the sons of Israel assembled at Shiloh.  There, they set up the portable sanctuary called the tabernacle.  In that holy tent, they placed the Ark of the Covenant.

About a century later, Samuel was taken to Shiloh as a child to minister before the Lord under the supervision of Eli the priest. The boy became a prophet and lends his name to the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

Eli's two corrupt sons were also priests in Shiloh.  They stole the offerings which were supposed to be sacrificed to the Lord.  Eli allowed this to continue because he honoured his sons above God.

Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and was soundly defeated losing about four thousand men.  When the Israelites returned to their camp at Ebenezer, they sent a message to Shiloh requesting the Ark of the Covenant to deliver them from their enemies, for the Almighty dwelled between the two golden cherubim. 

The Ark came into camp accompanied by the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas.  However, the Philistines were once again triumphant slaying thirty thousand Israelite soldiers, capturing the Ark, and killing Eli's two sons. 

When those tragic events unfolded, Eli was ninety-eight years old.  At the very moment when news of the Ark’s abduction reached him in Shiloh, he fell backwards off his seat and broke his neck. 

Now Phinehas' wife was pregnant and about to give birth.  The shock of the bad news sent her into labour.  Shortly thereafter, she lay on her death bed in Shiloh surrounded by friends trying to console her with the birth of her son.  However, she called the child Ichabod which means no glory and said with her last fleeting breath, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken."

The Ark remained in the land of the Philistines for seven months and those who didn't die were smitten with tumours.  Therefore they returned the Ark and it came to rest on a hill in Kiriath-jearim. 


  1. Scriptural references: Exodus 25:22; 1 Samuel 4:22

  2. For an explanation of the Shiloh prophecy recorded in Genesis 49:10, read my three part series entitled, The Jesus of Genesis.

  3. Description of the Ark: Exodus 25:10-22; Sukkah 5a (Talmud); Rashi’s Talmud commentary