Arc of the Covenant


Ever since I met my DH, we started reading the Bible together. Something that caught my attention is that of the Arc of the Covenant.

The JWs talk about this, or at least my DH does, and made me wonder, what ever happened to the Arc?

Any suggestions?


The ARK of the Covenant (I hope that’s what you meant) was captured as plunder when the Romans marched into Jerusalem in 70 AD to put down (yet another) Jewish rebellion.

This time the Romans burnt the city and sacked all religious objects from the Temple of Jerusalem, destroying all of the buildings in the complex save for the western wall (the ‘wailing wall’ of current Israeli pilgrimage).

The Ark of the Covenant and all the other loot (including the Temple Menorah) were carried off to Rome and melted down for their gold and made into coins commemorating the Roman victory in Jerusalem.

In Rome you can see the story depicted in one of the victory arches that Roman generals and caesars like to build to brag about what they’ve done. The Arch of Titus (look it up on the web for photographs) shows representations of what was taken from the Jews and the Temple.

Forget Indiana Jones, heck, Spielberg couldn’t get anything right (remember the ‘J’ in The Last Crusade? There is no ‘J’ in Latin and the word ‘Jehovah’ is a coined word by the KJV committe combining two different words for ‘Lord’ and ‘God.’)


Yeah, that’s what I meant. I mispelled the word Ark… sometimes it’s hard knowing more than one language. Thanks for pointing it out.

Anywho, I had no idea that’s what happened. That’s pretty interesting. I can actually go and teach my DH something the JWs are always wondering about! :smiley: Thanks!


The Romans taking the Ark in AD70 is one explanation. However, in the bible, the Ark is no longer mentioned after Jeremiah hid it when the Assyrians (or was it the Babylonians) were about to take Jerusalem. 2 Mac 2:5.

So if it was even present in Herod’s temple at the time of Christ is uncertain.

However, when you consider that the Ark was built to contain:

  1. The Word of God - i.e. the Ten Commandments.
  2. The staff of Aaron, representing the high priest of Israel.
  3. Manna - the bread from heaven.

Then…of course, after Jesus came as the Word of God, the new High Priest, and the Bread from Heaven, there was no longer a need for the Ark.

And of course, while Jesus was in her womb, Mary WAS the new ark of the covenant. Also refer to the last verse of Revelation Ch 11, and the first verses of Ch 12.


I searched for this on the net and I found this:

Before the destruction of the temple, Jeremiah received a vision from Yahweh to take the Ark of the Covenant and the golden altar of incense and hide them in a cave. This event is recorded in 2 Maccabees, one of fourteen books that comprise the Apochraphal, books that are not a part of the King James Bible, but are a part of the Roman Catholic Bible. *“… The document also described how the prophet, warned by an oracle, gave orders for the tabernacle and the ark to go with him when he set out for the mountain which Moses had climbed to survey God’s heritage. On his arrival Jeremiah found a cave dwelling, into which he brought the tabernacle, the ark and the altar of incense, afterward blocking up the entrance. (2 Mac. 2:4-6)” *Neither Zeruabbabel’s temple, which was built after Persia released Israel from Babylonian captivity, nor the Herodian temple, which was built at the time of the Messiah, had an Ark of the Covenant therein. Just a stone was placed there instead of the Ark. Quoting the Dictionary of the Bible by James Hasting, he states: “In one point of cardinal importance the glory of the second house was less than the first. No attempt was made to construct another Ark; ‘the most holy place’ was empty (p. 964).”

It should be pointed out that the Ark of the Covenant is still buried somewhere in the Holy Lands and Biblical archaeologists are looking for it. There are some who believe the Ark is in Ethiopia as stated in the book Sign of Seal by Graham Hancock (p. 1). Most, however, agree that the location of the Ark of the Covenant is a great mystery of the Bible. There is no report that the Ark was carried away or destroyed or hidden. There is not even any comment such as “And then the Ark disappeared and we do no know what happened to it.’ … The most important object in the world, in the biblical view simply ceases to be in the story (p. 3).”

So, what does the CC say about this?


The Catholic Church holds with the historical record that Titus’ legions took the Ark (an Ark?!) back to Rome as plunder from the Temple.

Besides, why would Roman authors record the Ark, what would be the significance of mentioning something that “isn’t there.”

Forget the conspiricists (wasn’t Hancock one of Dan Brown’s inspirations? didn’t he write a book about those *dreaded *Templars!?)

The Ethiopians refuse to show it (sort of like the Mormons and their ‘artifacts’!).

As to not being mentioned in the Bible, so what!

A lot of things aren’t mentioned in the Bible. The Bible is not the end-all be-all of a society’s (ancient Israel) day to day living and expenses: it’s the story of God’s Son being sent to fulfill a promise made to an ancient nomadic tribe which had trouble following His rules. It is the story of God-with-us.

Mercy me.


Actually, the Catholic Church have made no official claim who has the Ark. It doesn’t even claim that the Roman soldiers by the order of Titus took it. That is legend.


The question of what happened to the Ark is analogous to the question of “what happened to the Manna?”

The concept of the “Ark” is fulfilled in the person of the Blessed Virgin.

see this for more info.


The information I mentioned above are primarily taken from “Understanding the Scriptures” by Dr. Scott Hahn. This book has an imprimatur, so it doesn’t contradict Catholic teaching. However, there may be additional sources which are considered authoritative which have more to say about it.

I’m guessing that the whole “what happened to the Ark” thing is left up to personal interpretation, and is not in the category of dogma.


That the Ark was lost during the first destruction of the Temple during the time of Prophet Jeremiah is commonly accepted. While there are those who still search, most theologians beleive that it was taken into heaven to be preserved from looting. This is common in Jewish circles as well as Christian.

Now a Catholic perspective would have the Ark remain in heaven until the conception of Mary. Then the Ark returned to earth to bear the Word Made Flesh, the Incarnation, Jesus, the Messiah…you get the picture.

The Book of Revelation is where this Christian belief is rooted. John’s seeing of the Ark in Chapter 11 is significant to Jewish ears as it had not been seen on earth for 500 [or 1000 years - I forget the time line from Jeremiah to Christ and I am at work] plus or minus.

Chapter 12 describes the Ark - the Woman [Mary] clothed with the sun who gives birth to the “One Who Will Battle the Ancient Foe” [Jesus].

Remembering that the Chapter 11, Chapter 12 divisions are constructs that are arbitrarily [not contextually] set to assist in copying texts. The seeing of the Ark followed by the description are read as one.


The Catholic Church would probably say, “Aside from what we find in 2 Maccabees, and the impossibility of definitively identifying the “Ark” that appears on the Arch of Titus with THE Ark of the Covenant, we really have no way of knowing, so the scholarly speculation above is as good an explanation as any. The current location of the *physical *Ark of the Old Covenant is not of critical importance to the faith of Catholics”

Having said that, ricmat’s remarks about Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant is, from a spiritual standpoint, a widely accepted Catholic understanding. Read here for more info:


Interesting stuff… it’s like giving candy to a child… I want more!! :smiley:


It is generally agreed that the ark was not in the Second Temple. The holy of holies in the second temple was empty and there was no ark.


Actually, She does.

In a book with the Imprimatur of the Most Reverend Charles Grahmann, Bishop of Dallas and the Nihil Obstat of the Censor Librorum, Rev. Robert A Coerver, entitled, “Expressions of the Catholic Faith,” you will find the reference on page 31. ISBN 0-345-38116-5

Pax Christi


Do you get the History Channel? I hear they can explain anything to a JW that the WBTS can not.:wink:


The granting of an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat to this or any other book does not mean that everything in it is official Catholic teaching. It simply states that the one granting it has found nothing in the book that he considered contrary to faith and morals, or that contradicts the defined teachings of the Church.

The location of the Ark of the Covenant is neither a matter for faith or morals, or has anything to do with doctrine. It is merely scholarly speculation, which in itself is neutral.


:rotfl:HILLARIOUS :rotfl:



The New Advent site has some good articles which tend to go the way of Dr Johnson’s book: the Ark is gone.

Look up Titus and Ark of the Covenant.

You’re correct, believing it was melted (along with the shewbread table which carried it as shown in the Arch) does not contradict any Catholic doctrine or teaching.


Oh I agree with all that, I was clarifying the point about the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

Thank ye kindly. :tiphat:


The Catholic Encyclopdia lists different traditions as to what happened to the ark.

But it points out that the Ark is NEVER mentioned among the appurtenances of the 2nd Temple. If it were there, it would most likely have been at least alluded to.

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