The Ark of the Covenant of our Lord
by Gary Beaver KGCTJ
I have pondered long and hard on the subject of The Ark of the Covenant and how best to research such a subject. One cannot research the Ark without covering Moses, and one cannot include Moses without including research on Egypt, and then one must also include reference to the constant reference to the power of the pyramids and the part they and other myths might possibly play.
Therefore, as a scholastic researcher of ancient Templarism, I write this paper with an open mind and do not attempt or wish to promote one interpretation from another, suffice to say that we must read as much or as little into the ancient mysteries as each individual requires to bring the picture into focus, enabling each of us to discount as fantasy or fact.
My two visits to Egypt promoted my quest for further knowledge, it is a land of myth and mystery that entwines with hidden truth and enigmas that puzzle the brain, like a book that one just cannot put down until the last page reveals the plot.
Egypt, the Pyramids and the Mystic Secrets
There are at least 100 pyramids in Egypt, most date from the Old Kingdom c.2686 – 2181 BC and are located within a 100 kilometre strip on the Nile’s West Bank, between Hawara and Abu Ruwayash, the oldest being the step pyramid of King Zoser at Saqqara, built around 2650 BC. The architect of this wonderful structure was Imhotep, a man held in such esteem by the early Egyptians that he was believed to be a god. His statue, is sculpted out of black dorite and depicts a slim, frail man with a disproportionately large head.
The Great Pyramid, which was known in its day as “The Horizon of Khufu” readily deserved the reference to great, as the statistics relating to this wonder of architecture are amazing. The base of this structure covers 13 acres of bedrock. Around 2.5 million limestone and granite blocks went into its constructions, each weighing between 2 and 70 tons. It rises more than 201 tiers to the height of a modern 40 storey building. In its original form, the exterior was covered by 15 ton slabs of polished limestone, giving a total mass of 6.3 million tons. To put this figure into some kind of context, there is more stone in this one pyramid than in all the cathedrals and churches built in England over the past 2000 years. Napoleon once calculated that by tearing down the Great Pyramid, he would have enough raw material to erect a wall 10 feet tall and three and a half feet thick around the whole of France.
The bedrock platform was artificially levelled to a tolerance of a fraction of an inch. The base, which has a perimeter of a kilometre, is square to an accuracy of 0.08 per cent, the sides are aligned to the cardinal points to a tolerance of 0.06 per cent. The workmanship that creates casing stones, many tons in weight, so finely aligned that one cannot fit a knife blade between them, is reminiscent of what we see constructed much later by our Templar brothers.
There is an ancient legend held for centuries that the Great Pyramid was haunted by a vampire, its shadow witnessed by many during the construction and many since it has been opened as a tourist attraction. The scientific study soon discounted the vampire tale, but the mysterious shadows and lights were real enough. They are caused, it seems, by static electricity that manifests as an aurora during certain climatic conditions.
Now our journey of information gathering jumps to 1847, when a curious experience suffered by Sir William Siemens showed that the pyramid generated static electricity when the aurora was not present. The Seimens family were engineers, industrialists and inventors held in high regard and were the early pioneers in the field of electricity.
Sir William, formerly Carl Wilhelm Seimens, travelled to Egypt and visited the Great Pyramid, where he arranged to be escorted by an Arab guide on a climb to the summit. While they were standing on the topmost course, the guide reportedly remarked that when he raised his hand with his fingers spread, it caused an intense ringing noise in his ears. Upon hearing this, Sir William ventured a few tests, one by raising his arm with his index finger pointing, which he claimed caused a prickling sensation, then drank some wine from a metallic cup which gave him a distinct shock. Based on his technical background, he recorded that he was convinced he was witnessing some sort of electric phenomenon and instantly put this to the test by assembling a makeshift Leyden Jar, an apparatus for the storage of static electricity.
Sir William converted the wine bottle by wrapping moistened newspaper around it, the device was crude but served its purpose, as the static charge at the peak of the pyramid was so high that sparks began to stream from the bottle. Records show that the guide was so shocked that he accused Sir William of Witchcraft and tried to grab the bottle, but an electrical jolt knocked the guide unconscious.
In the early 1930s, Dr. Paul Brunton made a trip to Egypt after persuading the authorities to permit him to spend the night alone in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid. He recorded the following experiences as he lay in total darkness in that chamber:
“….all my muscles became taught, after which a paralysing lethargy began to creep over my limbs. My entire body became heavy and numb…… my feet became colder and colder. The feeling developed into a kind of iciness which moved by imperceptible degrees up my legs…. All sensation in the lower limbs were numbed…..
When the chill reached my chest…. The rest of my body was completely paralysed… At last my concentrated consciousness lay in the head alone…. I had the sensation of being caught up in a tropical whirlwind and seemed to pass upwards through a narrow hole… I had gone ghost-like clean out of my earthly body….
As there are no Egyptian documents that mention Moses, we must rely heavily the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy as the source of information on Moses’s life, suppoerted by rabbinical writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus rather than seeking fresh sources.
The mythic figure of the baby Moses being cast on the Nile and found in the rushes is well known. What is not widely known is that the same story is told about Sargon, King of Akkad, who lived about 2350 BC, more than 1000 years before the time of Moses. Despite this, the story is quite believable, and according to the biblical account was brought up in the Pharaohs’ court. Some Scholars say, that unlike the biblical event of the baby being found by the Pharaohs daughter who decided to raise him as her own, another possibility is the regular Egyptian practice of taking hostages from their Semitic vassals, give them Egyptian training, then sending them back to lead their people with an ingrained Egyptian viewpoint.
Whatever the course or reason, Moses’ position at court would have most definitely ensured his admission into the initiate priesthood. A New Testament reference suggests he “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds”. Philo of Alexandria stated that Moses learned mathematics, geometry, harmonics, poetry, philosophy, Egyptian and Assyrian script and astronomy. This level of learning in those days is clear enough sign that he had joined the closed elite of the priesthood. The former Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, suggested he might even have risen to the rank of High Priest. If this high rank was indeed bestowed, then Moses would have had access to every branch of specialist historical, religious and scientific knowledge vested in the Temples.
When researching the biblical account of The Parting of the Red Sea, I came across a little known Egyptian account of something that is most interesting and was under the safe keeping of Sir E.A. Wallis Budge at the BM, a reference to a Fourth Dynasty priest named Tchatcha-em-ankh in his unpublished work on Nectanebus II, the last native Egyptian pharaoh:
There is a story of ancient days, when the Pharaoh Snefru ruled. It appears this King, who was father to Khufu who the Greeks call Cheops, was subject to fugue. On a day in summer, falling in low spirits, he called on his Court to find some means whereby his heart might be lightened.
Failing in the more usual remedies of song and gossip, the nobles called on the assistance of the wisest man in Egypt of that day, a priest and writer of books, one Tchatcha-em-ankh. The priest advised the King thus:
“Go, Majesty, to the lake near the palace and there sail upon it in the boat which I have prepared for thee.”
So the King went to the great ornamental lake where the ibis waded in the shallows and there discovered a craft unlike any other, graven with the forms of fabulous beasts and leafed with beaten gold. The paddles of this craft were of ebony, inlaid with gold and in place of oarsmen were twenty female virgins, the most delicately beautiful in all of Egypt. Tchatcha-en-ankh had caused these young women to be dressed in netting, like that of sea fishermen, so that the most intimate aspects of their bodies were at once concealed and revealed.
When the King entered the boat, these nubile women manned the oars and sang sweetly to him while they rowed him hither and tither. And Seneferu, watching the fluid movement of their bodies beneath the netting, became aroused; and with arousal, his heart too rose up…
It seems that the leader of the nubile group, unaccustomed to rowing, managed somehow to tangle herself up in her hair; and in an attempt to free herself, lost an ornament of new turquoise, which fell into the water and sank. She ceased to row and the others, following her example, ceased to row as well.
Despite the distractions, Seneferu noticed that the craft had stopped and enquired as to the reason. When the girl told him of the loss of her ornament, he promised that it would be restored to her forthwith and called for the sage Tchatcha-em-ankh who, you will recall, was the originator of the divertissement.
Now Tchatcha-em-ankh was …… a priest and a writer, both of which might indicate he was a sorcerer as well; and such seems to have been the case. For on hearing the problem, he spoke certain hekau (which is to say, Words of Power) and a great miracle occurred.
On the command of Tchatcha-em-ankh, one portion of the water of the lake went up upon the other, like stones in a building, leaving the bed of the lake dry.
The virgins were fearful of this wall of water, which towered four and twenty cubits, and even Pharaoh glanced about nervously. But Tchatcha-em-ankh walked beneath it dry shod and found the ornament lying upon a potsherd. When he had returned it to the maiden, he then caused the water-wall to break, the water to fall and the lake to return to its former condition.”
The similarity between this ancient tale and the biblical miracle is plain to see.
After the Exodus, Moses met with his father-in-law, who performed sacrifices and advised him regarding a greatly improved judicial system. This statement suggests that certain parts of Moses’ legislative reforms, perhaps even God’s new name, Yahweh, were derived from the beliefs of the Midianites.
If one compares the Old Testament claims of Moses leading his people to a sacred mountain named Sinia, in another source Hereb, to receive God’s commandments, to the far earlier claims in the Egyptians Book of the Dead , the resemblances are remarkable.
When Moses encountered the Lord at the burning bush, he demanded to know the name of God, but the entity in the burning bush declined to reply. The term JHVH, usually translated as Yaweh or Jehova, is not a name, but a refusal to give a name. JHVH means “I am who I am” – or more to the point, a way of telling Moses to mind his own business.
Whether we believe the religious viewpoint, it is not necessary to accept it too, what is important is that Moses believed it himself, for it was his belief that conditioned his subsequent actions.
During the next forty days and nights, Moses remained upon the mountain and took down his Lords extraordinarily detailed instructions on the construction of the Ark of the Covenant and its Sanctuary; ten blue, purple and scarlet linen curtains each edged with exactly fifty loops were to be joined together with gold thread to form a sort of inner chamber. This was covered by eleven further curtains of goats’ hair, joined with brass taches. These curtains were in turn covered with red dyed rams’ skin and undyed badger skins.
“ And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the hight thereof.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof.
And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
There are a number of reliefs on the walls of a colonnade in the Great Temple of Luxor that tells the story of an important religious occasion in ancient Egypt – the Festival of Apet – during the reign of Tutankhamen, who ordered the reliefs inscribed.
The Apet Festival focused around the “Ark of Worship”, with the Arks being borne aloft by groups of priests and adored by hysterical crowds.
The similarity between these Arks and the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant is remarkable. What is surprising, is when Howard Carter opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, he found a number of caskets, which appear to be a form of prototype of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant
There are many different interpretations as to what the Ark truly was, ranging from a cult object symbolising the presence of God through to a weapon of massive destructive potential: so where can this research lead?
Just as the Egyptian practices of disguising their developing astronomy by using god-names to identify their new found constellations, is it not possible that the early Hebrew scriptures serve to interpret the reality of what is being described.
Many Scholars throughout history have believed that the religious terminology flows from misunderstanding the Ark by the Hebrews, such misunderstanding possibly fostered by Moses.
How can we start to establish the real nature of the Ark? I first make reference to Louis Ginzberg’s monumental study “Legends of the Jews” which contains many records of ancient oral traditions relating to the Ark, many refer to “sparks” or “fiery jets” that jump spontaneously from the cherubim and occasionally burned, or even destroyed nearby objects.
Jewish legend also refers to the intermittent appearance of a “cloud” between the cherubim, at which time the Ark was considered so dangerous that even Moses would not approach it. At such times, the Israelites believed that their holy relic was in the possession of demons.
When Moses heard the word of God, eyewitnesses noted a “tube of fire” was present which reached high into the air.
The biblical accounts and references to the Ark are so different to any other holy relic, that one can see why so many scholars believe that what was being described was something far more than a religious artefact. In Leviticus there is a detailed and gory reference to how Moses and his followers make animal sacrifices at the tabernacle.
And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burn offerings and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted and fell on their faces.[Lev. 9:24]
References tell us that the “fire” which emerged from the Ark was preceded by a “glow” which the Bible describes as the “glory of the Lord”. It appears that when the Ark of the Covenant was in this state, it was dangerous and not able to be controlled as witnessed by Moses’ own nephews:
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them in censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.
And there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. [Lev. 10:1-2]
This passage is of great interest, as it differentiates between two types of fire – the “fire” generated by the Lord and the “strange fire” made by the two nephews of Moses. This peculiar incident does not make sense in religious terms and is certainly not repeated anywhere else in the Bible. If we look at this in scientific terms, then the passage makes sense if the censer they carried was made of a conductive metal which could attract an electrical charge.
I found my research at this stage quite far fetched and found it necessary to permit my biblical research to continue without preconceptions.
The Israelites camped at the foot of Mount Sinai eventually disembarked for a new site, all were lead by the Levite priests with the Ark upon their shoulders. According to Jewish legend, carrying the Ark was a most dangerous job, as the artefact contained so much power it was known to jerk into the air, dragging its bearers with it. On several occasions it was recorded that the Ark flung the priests violently to the ground or even emit sparks that killed them.
During a rest in the journey, according to Numbers. 11:1-3, the Ark caused the death of more than a few bearer-priests.
And when the people complained….. the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.
And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the Lord burnt among them.
What this passage appears to indicate, is that Moses was the only person capable of controlling the power of the Ark.
Why would the Israelites keep such a dangerous and destructive item? The answer is clear, not only for its religious worth but also for its use in battle, as victory was assured. The devout followers took this an a clear indication that the Creator of the Universe was happy to side with an obscure, small Semitic tribe in their desert wandering. Jewish legend describes something far more specific:
An account of one such battle describes the Ark as first uttering ‘a moaning sound’ then raising up off the ground and rushing towards the enemy – who not surprisingly were plunged into disarray and slaughtered on the spot.
The biblical account describes something similar when Israel went into battle, and further confirms that the Ark of the Covenant was carried into such battles as a matter of course:
And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel. [Num. 10:35-36]
The results of all these battles made Moses’ tribe very powerful, which is reflected in the scripture “ Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. [Josh.2:24].
When Moses died within sight to the Promised Land, leadership of the Israelites and, it appears, the secret of the Ark, was passed to Joshua.
And it came to pass, when people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people;
And as they that bare the Ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the Ark were dipped in the brim of the water, for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest.
That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
And the priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. [Josh. 3:14-17]
This miracle, which bears remarkable similarity to Moses’ parting of The Red Sea, is suggestive that a field technology strong enough to hold back great volumes of water is generated by the Ark. Whatever this artefact was, Joshua treated it with considerable caution, highlighted by this account on the way to his famous battle of Jericho.
And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. [Josh. 3: 2-4]
Two thousand cubits is an extreme distance, some 1388 yards or close to a mile, but this is what Joshua judged as a safe distance from the Ark. The following passage highlights the lengths they would go to ensure that no metal should be brought too close to the Ark:
Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal.
As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.
And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their Judges, stood on this side the Ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord… [Josh. 8:30-33]
Our research now jumps us to 150 years after Joshua’s death, the Ark no longer carried into battle as before, but stored in a special sanctuary. It is thought that the secret means of controlling the Ark in battle had been lost.
When the Philistines defeated the Israelites at the battle of Ebenezer, tribal Elders ordered that the Ark be used during the next encounter, whereupon 30,000 Israelite soldiers were slaughtered and the Philistines captured the Ark.
The Philistines carried their trophy to Ashdod and placed it in their own Temple beside a statue of Dagon. The following morning they discovered the statue had fallen face down on the ground. They replaced their religious statue upright, but the following day it had been thrown to the ground once again and this time smashed, the head and hands severed from the trunk.
After such troubling events, the Philistines decided they would move the Ark to a safer place, the town of Gath, but shortly after the Ark reached the town the citizens suffered a widespread outbreak of tumours, which caused such a panic that the Ark was quickly removed from Gath. The Philistine authorities then ordered the artefact to be taken to Ekron, where another outbreak of tumours quickly occurred, causing such civil unrest that the Chiefs were told that the Ark must go.
A rapid decision was made to return it to the Israelites, so it was loaded upon an ox cart along with quantities of gold and jewels as a peace offering and sent off un-manned to the nearest Israeli occupied territory which was called Bethshemesh.
It is noted that records state that the escorting Philistine Chiefs followed at a safe distance up to the border, then allowed the cart to continue without escort of any kind. The cart came to rest in a field and a local farmer ironically named Joshua, recognised the Ark and called together a large crowd to make a sacrifice on a nearby stone.
During the removal of the Ark from the cart it was opened, a great number of people had crowded around to look inside and seventy of them were struck dead [ the King James version of the Bible puts the number of dead at 50,070, but modern scholars are certain that this figure resulted in a mistranslation of the original text].
The Ark was then taken to Kiriathjearim and stored on a hilltop at the house of Abinadab with his son Eleazar appointed as its official guardian, where it remained for twenty years.
When David became King of Israel, he decisded to have the Ark brought to Jerusalem in order to celebrate his recent victories over the Philistines. It soon became evident that the years of storage had not made the Ark any the less dangerous:
And they set the Ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeath, accompanying the Ark of God: and Ahio went before the Ark.
And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the Ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote hime there for his error; and there he died by the Ark of God.
And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.
And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?
So David would not remove the Ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. [2 Sam. 6:3-10]
King David, after seeing it safe for three months at the house of Obededom, took the safety precautions laid down by Moses and had the artefact carried into Jerusalem where it was placed in a tented tabernacle similar to that which had originally housed it in the desert.
The son of David, Solomon, set about building a new home for the Ark, although described as a temple it resembled more of a fortress or protective vault.
The Mount of Vision, Moriah, on the east side of the city was selected as the site of this Temple. The top was levelled and its precipitous sides were faced with a wall of immense stones strongly mortised and wedged into the rock face. Around the whole quadrangle area a solid wall of considerable height and strength was constructed. A second wall encompassed another quadrangle, on the inside of this wall ran a portico over which were built a variety of chambers. Another lower wall separated two inner courts, each at different levels.
It is startling to find out that the ground-plan of the temple, right down to the specific measurements of some of the ancient temples in Egypt. Why did Israel turn to the architecture of its traditional enemy? An enemy that had enslaved its people for so long? Some scholars have written that Solomon concluded that the origins of the holy Ark were Egyptian, therefore the only ones with the knowledge to control it.
What is for certain, is that no expense or effort was spared to create a safe storage for the Ark. The walls were of hewn stone, overlaid, as was the ceiling, with gold. The finest and purest was reserved for the sanctuary of the Ark, all the vessels to be used, ten candlesticks, 500 basins, and all the sacrificial utensils were of solid gold. There was also a seventeen feet diameter tank of molten brass, supported on twelve brass oxen, the purpose of which remains unrecorded and unknown.
It took 10 years to build, at the opening, Solomon took his place on a raised throne of brass as the preparation of burnt offerings commenced as the ceremony for the Installation of the Ark of the Covenant approached.
When the procession of Levites reached the Holy of Holies, a chamber built to be completely dark, the veil was drawn back and the Ark set in ploace on a massive stone slab known as the Sketiyya, or Foundation. At this point, it is recorded that the house was filled with a “cloud” that prevented the priests from carrying out their duties. As has happened before, “fire” erupted from the Ark.
The celebration lasted two weeks, during which 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep were slaughtered.
When the celebration was over, the massive doors were closed and the Ark was hidden from all but priestly sight until the time, somewhere between the sixth and tenth century BC, when it disappeared from the historical record.
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