The Ark of the Covenant


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A highly visual presentation about the biblical Ark of the Covenant - what was it? what was in it? what happened to it? Not the usual ideas.

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The Ark of the Covenant

  1. 1. The biblical Arkof the Covenant –What was it?What was in it?Where is it today? Dave Shafer CHJ
  2. 2. In the Torah, God gives Moses very explicit directions on how to build a tabernacle – a dwelling place for God while the Jews are wandering around in the Sinai desert. It is an enclosure that has several objects of great significance within it, like The 12 different tribes would each have their own areas the Ark of theof encampment around the central Tabernacle. Covenant.
  3. 3. The ancient Greeks cared mightilyabout how an object looked but couldnot care less about how it was made.The ancient Hebrews were just thereverse. They were very interested inhow something could be made butcared little about appearance. TheTorah is filled with examples whereGod gave extremely detailedinstructions to Noah and Moses onexactly how to build Noah’s Ark orthe Tabernacle and its contents, likethe Ark of the Covenant. Detaileddimensions, materials, how toassemble it, etc.
  4. 4. Because of thedetailed buildingdirections in theTorah, we knowpretty much whatthe Ark of theCovenant lookedlike. This oldpainting issupposed to showMoses andJoshua bowingbefore it
  5. 5. The central tent was where God lived. It was divided into two sections – an outer half and then a curtain covering the back half. In that back half was the Holy of Holies – the dwelling of God. The High Priest could only enter that part once a year, on Yom Kippur. What was in the Holy of Holies? – I’m glad you asked - it was the Ark of the Covenant. And just The outer areas inside the enclosure and what was that? It was a portable container that isaround the central tent had an altar for sacrifice described in very greatand other items, like a gold candelabra detail.
  6. 6. There are two interesting questions about the Ark – 1) why did it look the way it did and 2) what was in it? It was a peculiar object because it had two very different functions. One was to hold whatever was inside. The other was to serve as a location from which God would speak. The voice would come from between the two cherubim on top of the Ark. They are sort of “angels” and their The Ark had four rings for poles to go throughso that it could be carried without being touched wings almost touch.
  7. 7. Some of the more wildspeculations about theArk point out its veryclose similarity to a giantelectrical capacitor –lined with gold, carryingrods so you don’t haveto touch it, and two largegold electrical sparkdischarge terminals – thealmost touching wingtips of the cherubim.The voice of God, whichthe Torah says emergesfrom between the wingtips, was maybe loudelectrical sparks.
  8. 8. Whatever you may think of that odd idea, identical cherubim were part of Egyptian tomb decorations, as we see here. These predate the Torah and the Exodus, so it might be that the Jews took this design with them when they left Egypt. There is more evidence for this idea when weEgyptian cherubim as tomb decorations consider a different Egyptian item.
  9. 9. This is a portable Egyptianthrone chair. It could be used tocarry the Pharaoh around and itwas also used in some religiousprocessions to carry images ofEgyptian gods, seated on theirthrones. Most likely the Jews alsotook this idea with them whenthey left Egypt, and the Ark ofthe Covenant is a portablethrone for Yahweh. But therecould be no image on the throneof the Jewish god.
  10. 10. The ancient Hebrews had certain unique qualities that made them stand out, but they also shared much with their surrounding neighbors. We can understand the Torah much better if we look at religious practices In particular, Egypt, Canaan, and Babylonia and literatures ofhad ancient literatures that often throw light on nearby cultures.puzzling Torah passages and allow us tounderstand them.
  11. 11. Stone carving showing Assyrian gods (stone idols) in an ancient religious procession. There was no idol of Yahweh that could be paraded at religious events, but the Ark could be carried around and was supposed to be where Yahweh lived. These Assyrian idols are being carried by animals,maybe because of their weight, but the Ark wascarried by men holding its carrying poles
  12. 12. In 2 Kings 5:17 we read that Naaman took 2 mule loads of dirt from Israel to Syria, so that he could worship Yahweh on the soil thatDracula was supposed to sleepin a coffin, when he traveled, Yahweh lived on. God was thought to live incontaining dirt from back a particular place, so if you weren’t there youhome in Transylvania. This had to bring some of it (dirt) with you.was essential. A similar ideato this ancient biblical one.
  13. 13. The Ark was taken into battles where its“miraculous” powers could decide the outcome.
  14. 14. When the Ark was brought across the Jordanriver, the Tenakh says the waters parted for it.
  15. 15. The Ark of the Covenant did not leave the Tabernacle when the Jews were in the Sinai desert. But when they reached Israel, the Promised Land, it was carried into battle with the local tribes there and played a key role in victories, due to its “magic” and supernatural powers. In much more recent times, armies carry their flag or banner into battle. So one function of the Ark was probably toact as a portable throne for Yahweh, on top ofthe Ark. The other was to contain something.What was that something, inside the Ark?Now there is a mystery.
  16. 16. It is almost universally assumedthat the Ark contained the twotablets of the 10 Commandments.But the Torah does not originallysay that. It does later on inDeuteronomy, when looking back toExodus, but when this is first told,in Exodus, God says to Moses thathe will give him the “Pact” of thecovenant between God and thepeople, to put into the Ark. It doesnot say the two stone tablets, whichhad just been mentioned severaltimes before. The Rabbis say that atthat very key passage in the Torahthe tablets are “implied”. Baloney!(kosher baloney). It says the “Pact”,not tablets.
  17. 17. Exodus 25:16 "You shall put into the ark the testimony which Ishall give you.”Exodus 25:21 "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, andin the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.”Exodus 40:20 “Then he took the testimony and put it into the ark,and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top ofthe ark.” These are the only times in Exodus that something is put intothe Ark. It is the Pact or Testimony (both translations are used).It never says (in Exodus) that the twin stone tablets are put in.
  18. 18. Manna fellfrom the skyand was anodd sort offood. In Exodus 16:32-34 Moses tells Aaron to put asidesome manna in a pot to show future generations, andto “lay it up before the Pact ” (or Testimony). Thisprecedes the creation of the twin tablets of the 10Commandments and “before” implies that the Pact orTestimony was some sort of physical object. It couldnot have been the twin tablets! Rashi’s commentarydoes not help here. He says this verse must be out ofsequence. How convenient!
  19. 19. Biblical scholars recognize four separate strands or sources that came together to make the final version of the Torah. The D source, of Deuteronomy is later than the J and E and P sources of the rest of the Torah. Exodus talks often of the stone tablets but never says that they are put into the Ark. It says that the Pact or covenant Testimony is put in the Ark but tablets this is clearly not the same thing stone or it would have said so. Pact, Testimony Deuteronomy says that the If the Pact or Testimony is not the tablets are put in the ark, but thissame as the stone tablets then what is a much later tradition, shown tois it? the left here, which is suspect.
  20. 20. We know that it was probably not a Twinkie, inside the Ark of the Covenant. Although Twinkies were around back then and have, in fact, always existed from the dawn of time, the older versions were not kosher. My theory of what was inside the Ark is definitely moreplausible and is based on some reasonable assumptions.
  21. 21. Over the ages the assumed contents of the Ark kept changing. In the Christian bible it contains the two stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, the rod of Aaron, and a box of manna. With enough time in the future it might become stuffed to the top with whatever, like this bulging box. If we assume there ever was an Ark, then we should probably only go with the earliest account of it in Exodus. What might that “Pact” or “Testimony” be, that was put into it? The Ark was the “Holy of Holies” What do wePeople in the ancient Middle know about sacred objects in thatEast worshipped sacred stones day?
  22. 22. Exodus 34:13 “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones… “ 2 Kings 18:4 “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones..” and many other similar references elsewhere to sacred stones. The way orthodox Jews revere the WailingWall makes it very much seem like modernday sacred stones.
  23. 23. There is one special kind of sacred stone that ancient people all over the world have always regarded as miraculous – a stone that falls from the sky. It might be that what was in the sacred Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of the covenant between God and theA stone falling from Jews, was a miraculousthe sky is like meteorite – a stoneraining cats and sent by God fromdogs – it seems heaven.impossible andmiraculous.
  24. 24. In Mecca is the Ka’baa – the holiest site in Islam. It is a large cubic enclosure and inside is the most sacred object – a stone. What kind of stone? A meteorite that is said to have been sent by God (Allah) to Abraham. Another example (like the one that was You can imagine how miraculous it would maybe inside the Arkbe to see a meteorite streak through the night of the Covenant) of asky and then actually land where it can be meteorite with greatfound and seen up close. religious significance.
  25. 25. Like most meteorites, the black stone has an unusual look to it.
  26. 26. From the Christian bible (New Testament), Acts 19:35-36 35The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 This temple in Ephesus, Turkey, was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, and it contained a sacred meteorite.
  27. 27. Roman coins showing the Stone of Emesa, Syria, 218 A.D. This was a sacred meteorite that was worshiped as a god and had its own temple, shown (figuratively) on the right hand image of Yet another the coin. Emesa is thesacred meteorite modern day city of Homs in Syria, now in the news because of protests. This coin shows the sacred Stone of Emesa (meteorite) being drawn around in a chariot.
  28. 28. A black meteorite in Turkey was considered to be the idol of the Goddess Cybele and was taken to Rome where a temple was built around the stone. These two examples from the distant past, as well as the others alreadyshown, demonstrate that sacred meteorites were worshipped as gods and howimportant they were in antiquity. A miraculous meteorite associated with theArk would be very much in keeping with the cultures of that day, although itwas not directly worshipped (the Torah says). Of course various idols, likeMoses’s copper snake, were worshipped (oh-oh!) but that was apostasy.
  29. 29. There was an earlierCovenant in the Torahbetween God and man, atthe time of Noah. After theflood God said that he wouldnever do this again andcreated a sign of this newcovenant – the rainbow.This sign in the sky mayfind a parallel in a later signin the sky for another newcovenant – a plungingmeteorite from the heavensthat was then put into theArk as a symbol from Godof this new covenant.
  30. 30. The rainbow was not the covenant between God and Noah, after the flood, it was a sign of the covenant. Circumcision was not the covenant between God and Abraham, it was a sign of the covenant. A stone that fell from the sky (meteorite) may have been themiraculous sign of the new covenant in the Sinai desert. The twin tabletsmay have been part of the text of the covenant, but they were not themselvesmiraculous.
  31. 31. In Exodus God carves from stone the twin tablets and writes the 10 Commandments on them. When Moses then later shatters them in anger God makes Moses carve another set and then write on them. So the 2nd set was Moses shatters the twin tablets, completely man-made and had nothing at allthe 1st set that God made. miraculous about them. Hardly a suitable candidate for the “Holy of Holies”
  32. 32. The Covenant was a sort of treaty between God and his people, with a similar contract form to that common to the neighbors of Israel, like the Hittites. It has several distinct parts to it. A clear distinction is made in other places between the Covenant and the Testimony or Pact, which are different words – such as Psalms 25:10 – “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His Covenant and His Testimonies”. The Ark is never called the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus, but is always called the Ark of the Pact orAncient legal contract Testimony, which is a different word. In Deuteronomy it is called the Ark of the Covenant, but at a later time. The relationship between the Covenant and the Pact or Testimony might be like the relationship between a marriage and the ring that signifies it. One is abstract, the other is concrete.
  33. 33. The Covenant has severalpromises by God to the people ofIsrael and none are in the 10Commandments, which only listthe people’s obligations. The twintablets and the 10 words on themcannot be regarded as identical tothe Covenant or to the Pact orTestimony that Exodus talks about,which is put in the Ark. They aresometimes called the tablets of thePact or Testimony, and the Tent orTabernacle is called the Tabernacleof the Pact or Testimony. At mostthey could be a sign or symbol ofthe Covenant. A stone from the skywould be a much more miraculoussign from God.
  34. 34. To Summarize –The Covenant has several parts, like any treaty or contract.The twin tablets with the 10 Commandments is just one part.The Torah speaks of the Testimony or Pact as being not identical to theCovenant.The Ark and the 2nd set of tablets were man-made. Yet the Ark and itscontents had miraculous powers. Perhaps it was a miraculous meteorite thatgave rise to that belief.Exodus never says that the tablets were put into the Ark.If all this is confusing then you have correctly understood it.
  35. 35. If this allseems like alot of splittingof hairs thenit is in thelong traditionof very manycenturies ofTalmudicdebate andanalysis
  36. 36. My big conclusion, then, is thatthe Ark did not contain the twintablets of the 10 Commandmentsbut instead contained a sacredmeteorite. Later accounts, like inDeuteronomy, were hundreds ofyear later than the constructionof the Ark and cannot be trusted.
  37. 37. When Solomon built his great Temple (the 1st Temple) in 957 BCE, it was modeled after the Tabernacle that was in the desert. It contained the Ark of the Covenant. The temple was decorated with great opulence and there was much gold in it. It was, at the time, one of the wonders of the world. The First Temple was the site of allimportant religious rituals, like sacrifices
  38. 38. The Holy of Holies held the Ark of the Covenant until the destruction of the temple in 586 BCE by King King Solomon dedicated the Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whotemple in Jerusalem invaded Israel.
  39. 39. The temple was looted of treasure, like the Ark, then the temple wasdestroyed and Jerusalem was sacked and the Jews enslaved and sent toBabylon for the Babylonian Captivity. This is when the Ark vanishedfrom history. There is no further biblical mention of it.
  40. 40. There are two theories about what happened to the Ark after thedestruction of the 1st Temple. One is that it was hidden away inanticipation of the sacking of Jerusalem and the looting of the Temple’streasures. Maybe hidden under the Temple Mount, maybe takenelsewhere for safe keeping. The other is that it was taken as loot backto Babylon along with the other treasures from the Temple.
  41. 41. There are many theories about where the Ark might have ended up. When the Temple was looted, it and the other treasures might have been melted down for their gold. If it was saved by the Jews and hidden before the looting Some of the more distant locations that some have then it might bespeculated about include Ethiopia and even the south ofFrance – taken there by the Knights Templar after finding it almost Jerusalem during one of the Crusades.
  42. 42. From 2nd Maccabees, Chapter 2 “And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it.” 1st and 2nd Maccabees are not part of either the Jewish or Protestant biblesbut they are in the Catholic bible. They are the source of the Chanukah storyand are regarded as a Jewish historical document. They date to about 124 BCE.
  43. 43. Here we will only look at one of these many theories about what happened to the Ark. There was a remarkable development in recent times that was related to the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 11 remote caves between 1947and 1956 near the shores of the Dead Sea. They date from around 150BC to 70 AD. Most were written on parchment or papyrus and wereprotected all these years by the very dry climate.
  44. 44. The scrolls contain biblical texts, like this passage above fromPsalms, and are the oldest known biblical text examples. One scroll ofthe many found was completely different, in many ways, from the rest.It is know as the Copper Scroll and was written on sheets of copperinstead of parchment. The copper was corroded and the scroll had to besliced into many sections in order to be able to open it up.
  45. 45. The Copper Scroll was actually two scrolls, rolled up like that shownon the right above. They were found in a pottery jar, shown at lefthere. Some of the sections it was sliced into are shown laid out andthen a copy of the reassembled unrolled version is shown above that.
  46. 46. Once the copper scrolls had been sliced open some reassembled replicas were made, also in copper, to show what they looked like when new, 2000 years ago. The text seems to have beenmade with a small hammer andchisel on the metal surface.We can only guess that metalwas chosen instead ofparchment writing to ensurethat they lasted forever.
  47. 47. And now for theinteresting part. Unlike allthe other Dead SeaScrolls, the Copper Scrollis not biblical texts butinstead is a listing offabulous treasures andtheir hidden locations inthe ancient Israel. Thismight possibly include theArk of the Covenant. Oneproblem is that landmarksreferred to may have eitherchanged their names bynow or be inaccessible(such as under the TempleMount in Jerusalem).
  48. 48. "In the fortress which is in the Vale ofAchor, forty cubits under the steps enteringto the east: a money chest and it’s contents,of a weight of seventeen talents." So begins the first column of the CopperScroll, one of the most intriguing, andbaffling, scrolls to be found among thecollection known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.Sounding like something out of an IndianaJones movie, the text of the Copper Scroll(3Q15) describes vast amounts of buriedtreasure in several locations. The landmarks directing where thetreasures are may have been well-known tolocal people 2000 years ago but now areoften obscure and puzzling.
  49. 49. The treasure, spread out over That reference to the Ark being put many locations, might consistin a cave, in 2nd Maccabees, is about only of money (gold) and jewelsthe same time as the Copper Scroll and not include the Ark of thewas written and placed in a cave. Covenant. Nobody knows yet.Interesting!
  50. 50. A colorful figure who is part of the searchfor the treasures of the Copper Scrolls is thearchaeologist Vendyl Jones, who claims tobe the inspiration for the character IndianaJones in that movie about the lost Ark.Steven Spielberg denies that and law suitswere traded.
  51. 51. The search for the treasures indicated by those directions in the Copper Scrolls is a current on- going effort in Israel. We may or may not ever discover the Ark of the Covenant, if it still exists. What about the contents of the Ark, which may have been a sacred stone, a meteorite (the “Pact” between God and the Jews that is in the book of Exodus) – are there any ideas about that? I’m glad you asked – yes there are.The Holy Grail is a famous icon of medievalChristianity. It is supposed to be a sacred cup withmagic powers that was used by Jesus at the last supperor was used to catch his blood at the crucifixion. Itplays an important role in the King Arthur and hisknights saga. Nobody was thought to have ever seen it.Artists have guessed at it, like this chalice here.
  52. 52. The Grail first appeared in stories in the Middle Ages. Here it is shown in a tapestry, on the table. The earliest accounts of the Grail were quite uncertain as to what exactly it was. Later a large amount of Christian lore was attached to it but it may have been The Grail was agreed upon to be a cup or originally drawnchalice later on, but one of the earliest accounts from pagan Celticwas adamant that it was a stone, specifically a mythology.meteorite! Sound familiar?
  53. 53. The Romance of the KnightParzival, composed around 1225by the German poet Wolfram VonEschenbach, describes Parzival’squest for the Grail. He regards theGrail as a magic stone that fellfrom the sky (God) and calls itLapis Exillis. Wolfram claims thatone of his sources was an Arabicmanuscript from a descendent ofKing Solomon (!!) (builder of theFirst Temple has housed the Ark ofthe Covenant). Whether or not the Grail legendcomes originally from some oddconnection with the Ark and itscontents, here we have anothersacred meteorite story.
  54. 54. During the Crusades theKnights Templarsometimes took controlof Jerusalem from theMoslems. They broughtback to Europe manynew ideas, from thatcultural interchange.The Grail legend startedaround this time and mayhave been due tosomething seen or heardabout in Jerusalem. TheArk might even havebeen found at that timeand taken elsewhere byThe Knights Templar.
  55. 55. And then things start to get reallyweird, with secret societies andsome really esoteric stuff. So wewill quit here, before things getsilly. Monty Python has alreadycovered that well with their Grailmovie. But there is one more aspect ofmiraculous meteorites that is farmore ancient than either the HolyGrail or the Ark of the Covenant’scontents. It is the Philosopher’sStone and its evolution overthousands of years.
  56. 56. The Harry Potter book shownhere was published first inEngland. Then it came out inAmerica with the different titleof “Harry Potter and theSorcerer’s Stone” Theyprobably figured that weAmericans were too stupid toknow what a philosopher is sothey changed it to sorcerer. In medieval times aPhilosopher’s Stone was a muchsought after magic aid inalchemy, for turning lead intogold.
  57. 57. The miraculousPhilosopher’s Stone, socentral to alchemy, hadmany magical properties.It could cure all illnesses,make its holder invisible,also invulnerable inbattle, as well as turnmetals into gold. Pre-historic blacksmithswere as important aspriests because theycould produce iron, notgold. Why was that sospecial?
  58. 58. Meteor plunging to earth. Iron meteorite Thousands of years ago terrestrial iron was unknown and iron smelting fromore had yet to be invented. Yet there were some very rare iron knives, spearpoints, etc. All of it came from the iron in meteorites, the only source of ironknown back then. When Cortez asked Aztec chiefs where they got their ironknives they simply pointed to the sky. Iron was unknown to Moses (pre-IronAge) except in the form of meteorites. The ancient Sumerian word for iron translates as “sky-fire” or meteorite. Ironwas very much harder than brass or copper so it was regarded as a miraculousgift from the sky (or God). No wonder it was thought to have magic powers.
  59. 59. My theory ofeverything = Thecontents of the Arkof the Covenant, theHoly Grail ofChristianity, and thePhilosopher’s Stoneof alchemy andantiquity are alleither real or elseimagined meteorites.(Also Kryptonite inSuperman comics).All were consideredto have manymiraculous powers.
  60. 60. How good is the credibility ofancient sources, like the CopperScrolls, the Book of Maccabees,etc.? There are many un-supernatural ways to explain manyof the biblical “miracles” and oftenthe popular imagination has aconception of these unlikely“miracles” that is more expansivethan what the ancient sourcesactually say. Moses parting thewaters did not have to look asextreme as this kind of image here.
  61. 61. We often assumethat people backthen could nothave been all thatsmart, compared toour brilliancetoday. Just oneexample of howstupid they were: They thought thatthey were living inthe present, whileit is clear to anyfool today that theywere living in thepast. (joke).
  62. 62. We often assume thatpeople with more primitivetechnology than us aresomehow less intelligent,more gullible, etc. How should we deal withancient accounts that seemhighly suspect – such as“miraculous” or highlyunlikely? There are someuseful rules that can help.
  63. 63. Ancient accounts that portrayone group of people as moreadvanced, less savage, etc. thanother groups should be consideredas most likely propaganda tojustify genocide, the taking ofland, etc., although there may besome truth in it.
  64. 64. The ancient accounts most likely to be true or largely true will not have value judgments in them (i.e., propaganda) and will describe something as it would have been understood back then. We can often separate what is being described (likely to be true) from how they thought it was being done (by gods, etc. and therefore probably false). Let us take a famous example from Herodotus, the Greek “father of history”, from 2500 years ago and apply this idea.Herodotus
  65. 65. Herodotus traveled to Egypt,and other remote places andbrought back accounts ofthings he had personallyobserved as well as stories hehad heard. He was skepticalof outlandish sounding talesand tried to have severalindependent accounts of thesame thing. One account he gave is howthe people in India hadacquired so much gold. Thiswas by hearsay and has beenusually taken as a perfectexample of how worthlessancient accounts can be.
  66. 66. The story that Herodotus had heard several times was that giant ants burrowed into the ground and brought back gold to the surface, from a desert region rich in gold. People then could just scoop this up with no effort on their part. Furthermore these were not ordinary ants but wereThe story elements: larger than a fox and smaller than a dog. The Persians as well as1) Enormous ants, clearly impossible Indians told this same story.2) Gold dug up without human efforts – a pleasant fantasy3) Therefore a ridiculous fable, with no factual value Let us reject the how and keep theHere 2) is the What and 1) is the How what and see what happens.
  67. 67. The New York Times reportedthat in the 1990’s a remote area ofthe Himalayan mountains in theIndia/Pakistan border was foundwhere marmots (sort of prairiedogs) throw up lots of gold dust tothe surface of their burrows andthe remote local tribe scoops upthe gold. Furthermore, the word inPersian for “marmot’ is equivalentto “mountain ant” There are many other examplesof ancient tales that seemspreposterous and yet often thekernel of truth can be extractedwith the right approach.
  68. 68. All of the Hebrew bible was transmitted orally for hundreds of years, much more in some cases, before ever being written down. How accurate is the oral transmission of stories? It varies, of course. But there is a Native American tribe in the Pacific northwest that has various myths about a nearby mountain. The myths clearly describe a volcanic eruption, although not in modern scientific terms. Recently an ethnologist thought to ask geologists if the mountainhad ever been a volcano. The answer – yes, 8,000 years ago! And thememory was preserved by this illiterate group over many millenia.
  69. 69. Heroic figures, real and mythical, often have many life details that are the same.This is not a coincidence, it is myth-making at work. One common theme is a childof royalty who is sent off to be killed by a jealous king, but is spared by the kindlywoodsman, etc. and given to a humble peasant couple to rear to adulthood. Then histrue royal identity is revealed. Almost all of the details of Moses’ life conform to theparts of this heroic life myth, such as that no one knows where his grave is. But onepart of Moses’ life is the reverse of the usual – he was born of slaves and raised inthe Pharaoh’s palace. Freud thought that this departure from the normal mythicpattern preserves a kernel of historical truth. This is another way to extract truthfrom myth.
  70. 70. There are many similarities in the lives of Moses, David, Oedipus, Jesus, Siegfried,Hercules, etc. These are probably mythic similarities, not based on fact, such asunusual birth circumstances. Virgin birth, baby in an ark in water, born in a manger, etc.
  71. 71. Other heroic figures from the distant past were also plucked as babesfrom the water, like Moses, but none were of humble birth as he was. The Dahesh Museum in Manhattan is full of paintings like this.
  72. 72. In summary, it is hard to know howmuch to believe about the Ark of theCovenant - its existence and eventualfate. But to dismiss out of hand theArk as a biblical fantasy seems quiteunwarranted. We don’t have tobelieve in the Ark’s supposed magicpowers to think that people back thenprobably believed it. Archeology iscontinuing to find fresh proof thatmany factual type details in the bibleare correct. This in no way impliesanything about the theological contentof the bible, simply that ancientrecords should be given a fair hearingand interpreted as how things wereunderstood at the time, back then.