Other Theories

Another book of the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras, implies that the ark was destroyed. This book purports to be the words of Ezra the priest (Esdras being the Greek form of his name) but in fact dates to much later. The author, lamenting over the fall of Jerusalem, says: ". . . our sanctuary is laid waste, our altar broken down, our temple destroyed . . . the ark of our covenant is spoiled" (2 Esdras 10:21,22). According to the Babylonian Talmud, dated well after the return of Christ, the ark was carried to Babylon, but if so then it is odd that the Scriptures record other things being carried away but not the ark; and also, it would surely have been brought back at the end of the captivity with the other items from the temple, as recorded in Ezra 1.

A different Jewish tradition states that the ark was hidden under the temple. Humanly speaking it is the sort of thing one would expect to be done by one of the priests when the Babylonian armies took the city, although it may of course not have been God's will that it should have survived. Again, one might ask why the ark was not taken from its hiding place and put into the holy place of the new temple when it was built. Surely, if it had been hidden away somewhere safe then knowledge of the location would have been retained among the priests, unless of course all those who knew perished at the hands of the Babylonians. It might be said that, since we are not told that the second temple did not contain the ark, it might have been there. Against this is the statement of Josephus that the most holy place was empty in his days.8

But the question we now have to consider is whether there is any possibility that the Jewish tradition is true and that the ark lies under the Temple Mount. Recent investigations close to the Temple Mount have in fact revived this as a possibility.

Next section: Tunnel by the Western Wall