The Ark is a wooden chest built by the Jews, under God's instruction to Moses at Mount Sinai. God gave Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, a special talent to build and oversee the construction of the Ark.
The Ark was made of acacia wood and covered with gold. It was about three and one half feet long, and about two and one half feet in height and width. A cover was made for it out of gold. The Ark was placed in the Tabernacle when the Israelites were camped. As the tribes moved across the desert, the Ark was carried by the Levite tribe, using two long poles attached by rings to the sides. Inside the Ark, Moses placed the tablets of the 10 Commandments that were given to him by God on Mount Sinai.
God spoke to Moses from above the cover of the Ark, and gave Moses His commands and laws, thus the Ark is the most sacred object of Israel. When the Israelites left the desert and conquered Canaan, the Ark was first set up in Shiloh. At one time the Philistines captured the Ark, and placed it in their temple near the statue of their god, Dagon. The statue then fell off its pedestal. The Philistines replced Dagon on the pedestal and it fell off a second time, and broke into pieces.
Whatever city the Philistines moved the Ark to, the people were afflicted by a plague. Finally the Philistines returned the Ark to Israel. It was placed in the house of Abinadab in Kirjath Jearim. Later, after David defeated the Philistines and conquered Jerusalem, he decided to transfer the Ark to his new capitol. But disaster struck when Uzzah, a son of Abinadab, touched the Ark to keep it from falling, and died on the spot. David then left the Ark with Obed-Edom the Gittite.
Only when Obed-Edom was blessed, did David venture to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. During David's reign no temple was built, and the Ark remained in a tent, though it was taken out from time to time by the Levites to accompany David's armies in times of war. When Davids son Solomon became king, he built the Temple.
The Ark was placed in a room called the "Holy of Holies" When Solomons Temple was destroyed, the Ark disappeared. Whether it was removed earlier, or destroyed by the fire Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, set to destroy the Temple, is not known. But in 2 Maccabees 2:1-8 (from the Catholic Bible) the prophet Jeremiah is said to have taken the Ark "to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God's inheritance." He then hid the Ark in a cave and blocked up the entrance. In the New Testament, in the book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation, the Ark is mentioned as appearing in the heavenly temple.
There are many stories as to where the Ark is today. Some say its hidden under the Temple Mount in Israel. Some say it was hidden in Ethopia for many years and then brought back to Israel and stored away someplace. And some say it is still hidden in a cave in the mountain of Moses. But as Jeremiah states in 2 Maccabees 7-8, "The place is to remain unknown until God gathers His people together again and shows them mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things...."
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